Tom Wayes

Tom Wayes is many things: a big mountain expedition skier, an off-road racer, a Tahoe tree topper, a husband and father, and a veteran Alaskan heliski guide. Fellow SEABA guide Reggie Crist profiles one of most respected guides in the business–one who is known for safely delivering clients to the steep and deep.

Tom Wayes gazes out of the front seat of an A-star helicopter as he and his clients hover in for a closer look at Tomb Raider, a nasty, un-skied ridgeline near Haines, Alaska. The slope is steep, complicated, and riddled with spines, but a quick decision must be made: to ski or not to ski? Wayes analyzes the situation for a split second and calculates all of the variables–most importantly, the ability of the group. The team is exceptionally strong and highly motivated. Wasting little time, Wayes motions for the pilot to land. The clients unload, the heli dives away, and there is no turning back.

Wayes clicks into his skis and establishes the tone, “I’m gonna need everyone’s A-game starting right now,” a special phrase reserved for critical situations with severe consequence. Wayes’ gritty leadership style is reminiscent of an Afghanistan Platoon sergeant. “He is exactly the guy you want leading you into battle,” says Bryon Friedman, a former World Cup downhill racer and current client…

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