Top 10 Mountaineers of Instagram: Inspiration for 2024

In this feature from Mountaineer magazine, enjoy our ten favorite Mountaineers of Instagram and be inspired for your next year of adventure.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
January 01, 2024
Top 10 Mountaineers of Instagram: Inspiration for 2024
Photo by Eddie Kruger.

The Mountaineers launched our Instagram (@mountaineersorg) in 2014 as a way to celebrate the adventurous spirit of our community, the beauty of our natural landscapes, and the myriad types of outdoor experiences we have access to in the Pacific Northwest. From star-lit campsites to sun-kissed summits to smile-filled stewardship, Mountaineers are eager to share their photo-rich trip reports and inspire others to appreciate and protect the special places that we’re lucky enough to call home.

Every winter, we choose Mountaineers whose photographic adventures we hope will inspire you into the New Year. A picture is worth a thousand words. We’ll let the photos from this year’s Top 10 Mountaineers of Instagram do the talking.


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"I started taking photos after high school as a way to document the places I was traveling to and the local landscape where I grew up in Florida. Landscapes naturally became my favorite subject to shoot. After moving to Washington, my love for day hiking turned into overnight backpacking and then to multi-day trips in the backcountry. The isolation of the wilderness encourages me to feel fully present. It’s the form of escapism I was searching for from a fast-paced, modern society. Using photography, I am able to share the feeling of excitement that comes from summiting a new peak or the peaceful elements of sitting in an alpine meadow gazing at the distant mountains."



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"I grew up in California, and for vacations when I was younger my family would frequently camp at national parks. I absolutely loved being outside and exploring nature. As I got older and moved further up the West Coast, I rediscovered the joy and energy that outdoor activities gave me. What started as day hikes turned into long backpacking trips, scrambling, rock climbing, and mountaineering. I love photography because it allows me to capture the special moments of my adventures in stunning locations and share them with family and friends who couldn't be there with me or can't make it there themselves. Having these photos around is also a great reminder of how far I've come in my own journey with alpine climbing."



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"I dabbled with photography in my late teens and really got into it when I moved to the Canadian Rockies in the early 90s. I joined The Mountaineers soon after I moved to the PNW about seven years ago as I knew I wanted to explore and capture the great winter sights without becoming an avalanche statistic. Now when I get outside, I can't always tell if I want to simply move in the great outdoors or if I have a burning need to create a great shot. It's likely these desires have melded together. I love it most when I feel small and rendered speechless in a big, beautiful, wild outdoor space."

Hwei Ling Ng, @thenomadicartist

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"I grew up as a city kid in the tropics of Malaysia. Hiking and climbing were not part of my life until later in adulthood, but I eventually found my heart in the mountains. It was a natural combination for me to bring my love of photography into the outdoors. Memories made in the mountains bring extremes together. There is struggle and elation, pain and bliss, fear and joy. Hiking and climbing have taught me so much about myself - both my weaknesses and capabilities - and photography is my attempt to capture the experiences I’ve lived through in the wilderness, a way to relive my journeys through the places that make me feel most alive."

Lucas Cook, @lucascook_


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"I've always loved the way that photos inspire people and motivate them to go outdoors. I can remember countless photos of people adventuring outdoors that led to me researching and completing an adventure of my own. I love that photography brings people together to share their stories and memories of the outdoors. The beauty of photography is that you are hoping to capture a moment that encompasses the lighting, grandeur, the feeling of that moment and still, you never can quite capture it all. It's the elusive nature of capturing that moment that keeps me closing the shutter."

Sam Bugas, @swbugas

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"Around age 21, I invested in a camera that sparked a great deal of curiosity and passion in me. Still, I struggled to find which way to point it, feeling both lost and captured by my new hobby. That same year, my cousin took me on my first climb to the top of Mt. Saint Helens, and everything began to make sense. I invested in a copy of The Freedom of the Hills, read it front to back (more than once), and threw myself at climbing. On my first climb in the North Cascades - Eldorado - I inadvertently discovered the power of photography in the mountains. Put simply, the rest is history. I’ve deeply invested myself into the mountains now, always with a camera in hand (even when my bag is way overpacked), and the intention and passion I feel every day is unlike ever before in my life."

Laura Botz, @ellebotz



"I moved to Washington from Minnesota 14 years ago and, until just six years ago, I didn’t particularly like being outside at all. I went on my first day hike in 2017 and since then, I can’t get enough. My photography is an expression of my awe at the natural beauty I witness on my adventures. I often feel stunned by the scenery of the Pacific Northwest, like it can’t possibly be real. Taking a photo helps me to engage with my surroundings and process what I’m seeing. It also allows me to share the joy I find outside with others. Since taking the Intro to the Natural World course with The Mountaineers, I also use photography to document and identify the plants I encounter. And, at home, I use the photos I take on my adventures as source material for my other artistic outlet: printmaking."

Ryan Keeling, @ryan.w.keeling


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"When I am on a trail run, climb, or other adventure in the PNW, I can’t help but pause, look up, and gaze across the landscape. That view, that sliver of light, that experience, only lasts a moment. While it's no substitution for actually being there, pairing that pause with a few photos allows me to hold on to that moment. That is why I’ve fallen in love with landscape photography. Photography also gives me the opportunity to share my experiences with my family and celebrate the broader community."

Zihao Deng, @wilmtang



"When I was little, I was fascinated by the ant colonies under my apartment and could watch them for hours. Naturally, I dreamed of becoming a wildlife biologist. Born and raised in eastern China, there wasn’t much opportunity for me to explore the wilderness. I wasn’t outdoorsy until several years ago when I moved to Seattle. I started going on trips I once would have considered very hardcore, but in fact are a cruise when with the right people who are patient, caring, and willing to share. Being in the mountains and capturing stunning moments, I feel I can realize my childhood dreams in another way. It’s been four years since I began falling for photography. Not so coincidentally, it’s around then that I discovered mountaineering. To say the two activities have become core to my drive, my emotion, my fitness, and my love for nature would be an understatement. Finding photography was like finding a reason, so to speak."

Martina Kohlus, @summitlass


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"Discovering the outdoors took me half a lifetime. I grew up in a Northern European city without a single mountain nearby and have mostly lived in big cities. Spending time in the mountains was somehow never high on my list of priorities. That all changed when I moved to the Pacific Northwest. With the mountains and the ocean in such proximity, the call of the wild could no longer be ignored. I discovered hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, and photography. I still have a lot of catching up to do, but as part of the community of outdoor enthusiasts, I continue to learn and explore, and often reflect on how there are 'so many mountains, so little time.'"


Be sure to check out the featured Mountaineers of 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022, and 2023. Want to be featured next year? Add a comment with a link to your handle (if you're a member!) and we'll add you to our running tally for next year's top 10 list. Remember to use our #OurPNW tag on Instagram every day for a chance to be featured on The Mountaineers feed (whether you're a member or not).

This article originally appeared in our winter 2024 issue of Mountaineer magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our magazine archive.

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Brad Peacock
Brad Peacock says:
Jan 01, 2024 10:34 AM

Stunning photos - in awe of both the talent to take them and the locations that inspired them!