There are plenty of great peaks to climb in Colorado, but Craig native Scott Bouldin's yearning for adventure is pulling him south of the equator.
Bouldin is going to work for Skyline Adventure School in Peru as a mountaineer. With his bags nearly packed, he leaves Tuesday to climb mountains and help guide others to do the same.
"It's what I want to do ---- it's my passion," he said.
Bouldin started climbing as a student at Western State College in Gunnison.
"I started with a lot of personal trips and that landed me a job at Wilderness Pursuits, which is a student-based guiding organization at Western State," he said.
"It afforded me the opportunity to be around more experienced rock climbers. That's what really builds your skills, is being around people better than you."
The mountains of Peru are higher than Colorado's and feature "awesome granite," Bouldin said. "It's fantastic. The only problem is the climate. The weather is amazingly brutal.
"There have been guys who have gone down there three years in a row, waited 28 days in a tent to get two days of decent weather to do a climb, and then failed in the attempt."
Mountaineering requires several different sets of specialized skills, Bouldin said. "If you're walking on a glacier, it requires different skills than scaling a rock face. You may have to traverse a glacier for 800 feet to get to the rock face.
"There is a lot of information to grasp, but after a while it just becomes procedure." he said.
He said climbers carry about 30 pounds of equipment, slightly more if ice is involved.
"And you always carry water," he said.
Bouldin has experienced many adventures in climbing. One of the most memorable trips was to Crestone Peak, which is about an hour and a half east of Salida near Crestone.
"It was exciting climbing 900 feet and exhilarating arriving at the top," he said.
He said that there is a misconception that you had to have a lot of strength to be a successful climber.
"Balance and agility are much more important than strength," he said.
The world's tallest peak, Mount Everest, is not on Bouldin's list of mountains to climb. He said the permit alone costs $65,000. That doesn't include the costs for guides and equipment.
"It is just very cost prohibitive and the most of the technical work is done by the Sherpa (guides)," he said.
One disappointment was failing to climb Ellingwood Needle. It's a 14,000-foot peak, but the climb itself is 2,500 because Bouldin and his brother started at 11,500 feet.
"At about 700 feet from the top we ran into ice and we were not prepared, so we had to bail," he said. "It just was not safe to go on."
Safety is always an issue in mountaineering, rock or ice climbing. Gear must be checked and rechecked.
"Checking yourself the second and third time and then checking your partner too. Wearing the right gear and always, always a helmet," he said.
Bouldin plans to return to Colorado when his South American adventure ends. He hopes to find that perfect guide job -- something that includes lots of travel and he would be glad if it's in Colorado.
"There are lots of companies based in Colorado that do expeditions here and all over the world," he said.
Bouldin said experienced guides make about $100 a day. He said climbers are an international community, opinionated and very connected to the Earth.
"I think on a whole we're peaceful and really care about the earth," he said.
This will be Bouldin's second trip to South American. He is excited to return and said the people were so friendly and hospitable.
"I spent some time in Chile and Argentina -- the people are so kind and gentle," he said.
Bouldin credits parents, John and Marilyn for his passion of adventure and travel.
"We were always going and seeing new places so it was in my blood at an early age," he said.
The job ends in September. He plans to stay and possibly meet friends and go on to Argentina to climb some more.