9 Things You Should Know About Brooks-Range Founder Matt Brooks

There’s an old saying that every good thing needs to start with a dream. At Brooks-Range Mountaineering, every piece of outdoor gear began as an adventurer’s dream that the right piece of gear can make the bad times good and the good times even better. At Brooks-Range, that dreamer is Matt Brooks: a badass adventurer, explorer, and entrepreneur.

Matt’s heart is in adventure, and the gear he develops is guided directly by the uses and abuses required by epic trips. Here a few of the larger-than-life endeavors Matt has accomplished in his 64 years circling the sun:

1. First Ascender: Matt has many first ascents in the Alps, the Sierras, and Yosemite, including a first ascent on a Yosemite Valley route called Galactic Hitchhiker, which he climbed in 41 pitches! It is the longest technical rock climb in North America.

Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, half dome and El Capitan

2. Mountain Guide Extraordinaire: Matt has over 30 years experience working as a mountain guide in the French Alps and across the U.S. When Matt lived in the Alps, he worked on Search and Rescue. During one rescue, he heli-rappelled in to save some hikers. The helicopter couldn’t land due to bad weather, so Matt bivyed with the people who needed help until the helicopter could return the next day. He still gets Christmas cards from the people he saved!

mountain rescue

3. Trendsetter: In the 1980s, Matt helped develop standards so that mountain guides could become trained and certified as internationally recognized professionals. Prior to his contribution, guiding was dominated by rogue outdoorsmen trying to make a buck, without standards. The American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) has awarded Matt the Presidential Gold Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the guiding profession.

4. Entrepreneur: After years of guiding—as well as working on search and rescue—Matt got to see firsthand all sorts of backcountry issues and problems that could be solved with the right piece of gear. He started Brooks-Range Mountaineering in his garage back in 1995. Soon, his guiding friends wanted what he was developing and it snowballed into the company it is today!


5. Aviator: A dedicated adrenaline junkie, Matt is also an accomplished adventurer in the air and sea. He is a gifted aviator who holds national and international aviation records for distance without landing, and the speed record for distance around the world in a C-1 and C-1.d, Group III aircraft. He received his first pilot’s license at age 13!

Matt Brooks-aviator

6. Safety Enthusiast: Matt is passionate about developing snow safety tools and using snow safety education to save lives in the outdoors. He loves using teaching and instruction to prepare others to recreate safely. He believes that while a good piece of gear can make a harsh time better, ultimately, the best tool a backcountry enthusiast can use is his or her brain.

7. Patron: Because Matt is so dedicated to the role of education and preparation before backcountry trips, he sponsors a scholarship for mountain guides to become certified through the American Mountain Guides Association.

Teaching companion rescue at a fundraiser for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center. Photo by Jessica Haist
Aaron Richards teaching companion rescue at a fundraiser for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center. Photo: Jessica Haist

8. Sailor: Matt can teach an old boat new tricks – he’s sailed three World Championships and restored two historic yachts. He just finished the Transatlantic Race in a boat he restored, the Dorade, which was originally designed in 1929 by Olin Stephens and won the Transatlantic Race in 1931. Still up to sailing shape, under Matt’s navigation, the 84-year old Dorade beat her previous record by more than 26 hours despite a course that was 300 miles longer. To read more about Matt’s trip on the Dorade, check out www.dorade.org

Matt and crew aboard the Dorade. Photo: Billy Black
Matt and crew aboard the Dorade during the 2015 Transatlantic Race. Photo: Billy Black

9. Diver: Matt has help find several new species of fish on expedition off the coast of Indonesia, and even named one of them Eviota Pamae for his wife Pam.

One of Matt’s mottos is “Failure is Not an Option,” and it’s clear that it’s a slogan that has guided him through life. Quality gear, just like quality adventures, doesn’t just take a dreamer, but also needs a do-er. Brooks-Range Mountaineering is led by a visionary who is always fine-tuning gear to make it better and better. Keep your eyes peeled, because who knows what Matt’s next adventure may be!


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