NEW TIMES Where do you do your guided backpacking?
NELSON Yosemite National Park.
NEW TIMES Who were the clients on your craziest trip?
NELSON The CEOs of two of the largest companies in the world and their wives.
NEW TIMES Can you tell me a specific incident that made this trip so crazy?
NELSON Two things really stand out. The first thing was, within the first three miles of the hike, one of the CEOs had heatstroke! A full on heatstroke! He didn’t prepare for the trip like he should have, and he was trying to be a tough guy. I always tell people, “Hiking on the beach is different than hiking in Yosemite at 8,000 feet in hot weather.” I tried to tell him he was in trouble, but he ended up passing out, vomiting, and [pooping] himself. He recovered and insisted that we continue the trip. As their guide, I’m not allowed to call off the trip. They’re adults, and they paid a lot for this experience. I give them my advice, but it’s entirely up to them to continue or not.
NEW TIMES You said there were two really memorable things about this trip?
NELSON Yes. The next day, we hiked up the back of Half Dome. I made the CEO who had the heatstroke the day before stay at the base camp. On the way down this beautiful rock wall, still about 2,500 feet above the valley floor, one of the wives lost her footing and let go of the cables. I caught her with one hand, lifted her back to the wall, and told her, “Grab the cables. Grab the cables. Grab the cables!” The woman was in shock. It was terrifying! There was a lot of damage to my left shoulder, but she didn’t splatter all over the rock below! It’s only because of adrenaline that I was able to save that woman. I had super-human strength. It was crazy!