Canyoneering entered my life in 1998, when I first visited Zion National Park with college friends. Zion's mystery, beauty, and adventure were evident everywhere, but nowhere were they quite so raw and vibrant as in its slot canyons. I returned to Zion that summer, taking on a guiding apprenticeship with Jonathan Zambella at Zion Adventure Company, and began exploring Utah's canyonlands in earnest.
I first came to know Tom through his website, Tom's Canyoneering, where I would go to find canyon beta and do some serious armchair canyoneering. "Who is this guy?" I wondered. Eventually, I had a few chance encounters with Tom at Zion Adventure Company, both annoyed and impressed with his brusque, slightly awkward social disposition. One day, Tom sent an email to the canyoneering world advertising his interest in guiding, and we hired him about 20 minutes later. Four years later, Tom hired me to help him revamp CUSA, which had grown unwieldy and outdated under the sheer weight of the volumous information Tom shares with the world.
Tom and Canyoneering USA (is there a difference, really?) embody a strange, fascinating polarity. Both intelligent and low-brow, professional and messy, cocky and humble, it's difficult to pin Tom or his business down as one thing or another. Is Tom a bold and dedicated entreprenuer, or just a big kid muddling through an adult world? Is CUSA a for-profit business making a killing, or a service organization for the canyoneering community, just barely scraping by? The only right answer to these questions is, "YES", an answer Tom might give you himself, with a big smile on his face. For me, Tom and his business illustrate how one person can exert an enormous influence by simply and passionately following his interests, loves, and relationships. Thanks to Tom for fervently pursuing adventure and canyoneering over many years, and for sharing his knowledge to help so many of us get out into wild country.
For more about me, check out my work as a Madison, WI photographer, my Wisconsin climbing business or my website design work.