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N. Lincoln grad now a guide in the Rockies

Dustin Mitchell stands on the summit Gemini Peak in central Colorado.

Sports Writer

Dustin Mitchell, a 2007 North Lincoln High School graduate, spent his entire life in Lincoln County until moving to Colorado in 2009 to pursue his love for mountaineering.
Since then he has been a student and an adjunct employee with Colorado Mountain College’s Leadville campus and, outside of his personal climbing, has led groups to some of the finest peaks the Rocky Mountains have to offer. He said that the danger and adrenaline rush of mountain climbing was a factor that helped draw him into making it his career choice.
“The danger and the risk is fun when you’re with people or you’re personal climbing, but when you’re guiding people you want them to be comfortable,” he said.
“A lot of times guiding is very, very stressful. You have to make sure that the people you’re guiding are OK, and on the other hand you have to do certain things to get them and yourself up the mountain safely.”
Mitchell was at the summit of Mount Massive, near Leadville, this past September when news reached him that his father, Guy Mitchell, had passed away. Mitchell said it was his father’s love of the outdoors that helped spark his interest.
“He was into dirt-bike riding, and although that’s not really outdoorsy, in terms of what I do, we would go on camping trips and I think that’s what kicked it off,” he said. “I liked being away from modern things, and then coming back to them. It kept progressing; I started making longer trips to different locations, then rock climbing. I started thinking that there were guys who went out traveling around the world climbing huge mountains, and that looked like a lot of fun.”
Mitchell received a bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation from UNC-Charlotte, and started working for the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte. After working in retail, the opportunity to attend Colorado Mountain College presented itself.
“It’s the Holy Grail of mountaineering out there,” he said. “You can’t just continue hiking and backpacking to try to do it as a career, you have to move up into the guiding and big mountain industry.”
After finishing his degree in Colorado, Mitchell said he’d like to split his time between the western part of the United States and North Carolina if he’s able to find work in his field here.
“It would be great to be able to come home and work as well, but on the east coast it’s generally only rock climbing in the mountains here,” he said. “There’s some ice climbing but it’s only two months out of the year. It would be great to come back here in the summer when the snow melts in Colorado, and try to stay in both areas, but there are so many job opportunities out west.”

Image courtesy of Contributed

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