We are educators at heart, but believe that the best classroom is the outdoors. That is where we feel most complete as humans, and best positioned to wrestle with difficult questions. We're inspired by the example of Alexander von Humboldt, the great 18th-century Prussian naturalist, who believed that scientific rigor must be blended with creativity and literary imagination in order to fully appreciate nature's beauty. We work in that mold, bringing our students and clients face to face with breathtaking vistas, while also introducing them to cutting-edge scientific techniques and sharing the stories of men and women who call this extreme place home.
We live and work in at the edge of human habitation, but ensuring our clients are healthy and safe is always our first priority. No major medical incidents have occurred in our two decades working on the ice fields, and we are constantly reviewing our procedures and equipment to ensure that remains the case. All our guides are certified Wilderness First Responders and carry satellite phones and fully-stocked first aid kits should an emergency arise.
Staying healthy means eating and sleeping well, and we take lodging and food very seriously. The food we serve is of the highest quality, with an emphasis on local, organic, and in-season fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. Breakfast and dinner are prepared, cooked, and devoured around a communal fire, as Patagonian tradition dictates. Lunches are eaten on-the-go, but we have a knack for finding stunning overviews and sheltered tuck-ins to enjoy our midday meal. We're not just guides, climbers, and scientists; we're ranchers and farmers dedicated to producing and serving the healthiest, freshest, and highest quality food available. We often joke that our TripAdvisor page reads like a restaurant review - our clients are often astonished to find themselves eating so well so far from a restaurant kitchen.
Our final commitment is to the community that we're a part of: the people of Aysén. Most of our staff is aysenino, and PAEX plays an important role in the economy of Puerto Bertrand, a small town on the Carretera Austral. We help train the next generation of outdoor leaders from this place, and work with local students so that they can experience the natural wonders in their own backyard. We maintain excellent relationships with our neighbors in Colonia Valley, and local guides are contracted and trained in house.
We've put together one of the leading teams of guides, educators, researchers, and mountain professionals in Patagonia. We are a small, tight-knit community, fully dedicated to sharing our home in a sustainable, exciting, and safe way. We invite you to join us in learning from this remarkable part of the world.
Jonathan Leidich, Founder & Head Guide
Jonathan Leidich is one of Patagonia's best-known guides. He first came to Patagonia at the age of nineteen, seeking the limits of human habitation on the planet. For the past twenty-five years, he has made Patagonia his home, based in the Colonia Valley. He pioneered the rafting network on the Baker River and is an accomplished mountaineer, with ascents throughout Chile and across Latin America. He has co-authored articles in numerous scientific journals and been featured in many books, articles, and films about the region of Aysén.
Andalicio "Gringo" Cadagan Arratia, Lead Guide
Born and raised within sight of the Patagonian Ice Fields, "Gringo" grew up in the Colonia Valley working on his family's ranch. He now dedicates his life teaching people from around the world how to move through Patagonia's difficult terrain with grace and style. The old gaucho traditions are alive and well with Andalicio, and he will gladly share stories of his home over a strong maté. Gringo has worked with PAEX since 2008, and has walked the AGT and its surrounding valleys hundreds of times, though he will be the first to tell you that each trip is a revelatory new experience. He is a Wilderness First Responder.
Andrés Mora, Logistics & Operations Manager
Andrés manages PAEX's operations from his home town of Coyhaique. He is tasked with ensuring that every PAEX pick-up and drop-off takes place smoothly, safely, and with style. Andrés is connected to numerous tourism projects along the Carretera Austral, and co-owns a hostel in the small town of Bahía Murta. A world traveler, Andrés has spent time on five continents and is always planning his next trip. He is a Wilderness First Responder and holds Whitewater Rescue certification, and is committed to providing PAEX's clients with personalized, caring service -- and always with a smile and a joke at the ready.
Luis "Chino" Toro, Guide
Luis, or "Chino," was born and raised on the shores of Lago General Carrera, in the small town of Puerto Río Tranquilo. He works as a guide and instructor with the renowned Escuela de Guías, based in Coyhaique, and spends his winters focused on his work as an technical designer. Chino is has put up several first winter ascents on the Northern Patagonian Ice Field. He has guided with PAEX since 2013, and is a Wilderness First Responder.
Dan Rohde, Caretaker
Hailing from outside Buffalo, New York, Dan keeps the home fires burning with style and grace at the Sol de Mayo ranch, where he nourishes a flock of sheep and manages the upkeep of Sol's gardens and buildings. A skilled mechanic and carpenter, Dan is also a professional fitness trainer, has completed an Iron Man, and has climbed extensively in the Adirondak Mountains.
Ben Wilcox, Guide
Ben originally moved to Chile to work for Conservación Patagónica, focused on building the nearby Patagonia National Park. He fell in love with Sol de Mayo and the Northern Patagonian Ice Fields, and now works full time helping people explore and learn from this remote part of the world. When he isn't guiding, Ben works on translation projects for the Coyhaique-based publisher Ñire Negro, and explores local archives to learn more about the history of Aysén. Ben is a graduate of the National Outdoors Leadership School and is a Wilderness First Responder.
Ramón Sierra, Boatsman
Ramón steers us across the waters of Lake Bertrand and Lake Plomo to the shores of his traditional Patagonia ranch, which marks the beginning of the AGT. He has ranched in the Soler Valley for decades, and is also a masterful horseman, responsible for the pilcheo (or horse-packing) that delivers our gear to the edge of the Neff Glacier. You'll know Ramón as the always smiling, always whistling, always reliable porter of our most important equipment.
María Pía Moreira, Photographer
Pía is PAEX's staff photographer, providing imagery for our educational and scientific materials as well as providing optional custom photography services for private clients. Born and raised in Temuco, Chile, Pía received her photography training in Santiago. She has been widely recognized for her work photographing Chile's landscapes and wildlife.
Buddy, Head of Welcome Committee
Adopted off the streets of Puerto Bertrand as a puppy, Buddy has risen quickly through the PAEX ranks. He's not quite running the show yet, but frankly Jon is quaking in his boots. You're sure to meet Buddy and his furry companions when you pass through Sol de Mayo Ranch, a dog heaven full of open spaces and intriguing odors.