Whenever Durangos Josh Kling sets foot on the summit of Kendall Mountain in Colorado, Mount Rainier in Washington or Mount Elbrus in Russia, he remembers each and every step that took him to the top.
And everyone who helped along the way.
I was super excited to work with Sara (Egbom) and her group (of senior business students at Fort Lewis College) because I was a business student at the college, Kling said in an interview this week.
But Kling not only was a business student at FLC but also a business honors graduate (Class of 2005).
The Chicago native with a passion for the outdoors turned his passion into his own local business Kling Mountain Guides with the help of his business degree from FLC.
Now, Kling says hes more than eager to help out business students at FLC students like Sara Egbom, who also was a standout soccer player for the Skyhawks.
When I was a business student, someone gave me the opportunity. They gave me the opportunity of an internship, which was huge, Kling said of his postgraduation internship with Dakine, the international skiing and snowboard clothing company. If I can pay that forward and do the same thing to help someone else, thats super exciting, said Kling, adding that there are more than just FLC business connections.
Saras on the (FLC) soccer team. My wife played soccer there, he said of wife Bonnie Kling.
Its all intertwined, said Kling, who launched his Kling Mountain Guides in 2008 after working as guide at Mount Rainier for three seasons. That was the first time I thought that this might be a direction I could go full time.
He always enjoyed business, too. And when he discovered FLC and Durango on a cross-country bicycle trip after graduating from high school, he knew he wanted to move west and get a business degree.
I biked from Virginia to California, and we came through Durango, Kling said. We had a rest day here. ... I thought Durango seemed awesome.
He and his pals completed the ride to California.
I looked more into Durango, There was a college here. So I came here and never looked back, said Kling, an avid mountain biker who started climbing when he moved to Durango.
I started climbing with the (club) at the college. I started climbing with them every weekend. I had some good older students, mentors, Kling said.
He gravitated to the renowned Outdoor Pursuits program at FLC first as a student, later as a student-leader, now as a trip leader.
Ive been on all their major expeditions Alaska, Africa, Russia. Ive worked with them on and off since 2001, he said.
Kling even worked at the Animas City Rock climbing gym that operated in Durango at that time.
He worked in Washington and in Colorado after completing his business degree. He entrenched himself in the Durango community. He worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters. He worked with search and rescue.
And with his business background, Kling studied the local market.
Everything snowballed, he said. I researched. There were something like 13 or 14 rafting companies in town. But there was only one climbing guide service. It seemed in an adventure-tourism spot like Durango, there could be a couple of climbing services.
His company now offers guiding services for climbing, backcountry skiing and big expeditions.
It was fun to really use my business degree, Kling said. And I used the Small Business Development Center at the college.
Kling also moved his business into the educational arena by teaching classes at San Juan College in Farmington and the Silverton Avalanche School.
I teach 10 to 12 credit hours at San Juan College every year, he said of the curriculum in outdoor leadership
Hes also worked with Durango Mountain Resort and FLC.
We do a lot of ski guiding and rock climbing, said Kling, who also pioneered a Rock and Raft program in Durango a half-day of rafting with Mountain Waters and half-day climbing with Kling Mountain Guides.
He also originated a unique climbing-skiing combination trip to the Moab, Utah, area.
We do ... chutes and towers trips in the Moab area where you climb a tower one day, and you ski a peak in the (LaSalle Mountains) the next day, Kling said with his voice rising in excitement. When you ski the peak, you can see the tower. And when you climb the tower, you can see the peak.
Future trips include an Alaskan mountaineering expedition in May.
In July, were running a Rainier trip. We have a permit there, said Kling, who just returned last week from a ski guide mountaineering course in Canada.
The course was a 10-day course and examination, part of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) certification. There are three divisions of the AMGA rock, alpine and skiing. Kling is fully certified in rock climbing.
He just completed the second of two required courses in the ski discipline. He has one final alpine course to take next fall in the Cascades. Then hell move up to certification by the International Federation of Mountain Guides.
And it all started back at FLC, said Kling, who works out of an office at Backcountry Experience in Durango.
Its a great symbiotic relationship (with Backcountry Experience), Kling said, adding that his business would not be operating without the support of Backcountry Experience.
Theyve been wonderful in helping me out, said Kling, who added hes focused on supporting other local Durango businesses.
I try really hard to support local businesses, and I think other local businesses try really hard to help me, he said.
Just like helping a fellow climber to the summit.