An Interview with Corey Fitzgerald, NEM Guide & Co-Owner

Corey Fitzgerald – Mountain Guide, Co-Founder NEM

Corey found his love for mountains at the young age of 8 when he first scaled Mt. Adams in New Hampshire. For the next 16 years he has continued to hike and backpack throughout the country. He found his niche of climbing bigger mountains when he visited Mt Rainier for the first time. He has training as a professional photographer, which has only compounded his love for the outdoors and high places. Corey also enjoys hiking, floating lazy rivers, and any other adventurous activity.

What is your favorite climbing trip of all time?
My favorite climbing trip would have to be our trip to Ecuador.

The mountains are beautiful, the people are friendly and everything is so accessible. Even the approaches to the climbing are scenic and keep you engaged. Ecuador is an amazing country and it is always fun to explore a new culture and attempt to speak to the locals in Spanish.

Dream climbing destination? What is on top of your bucket list?
I would love to get into the more remote parts of Nepal such as the Mustang Region and look for possible first ascents in the area. Just a small team of good friends and spend a month or so exploring and climbing. I am also very much interested in a backpacking trip through the heart of Iceland in the Summer. The scenery and hot springs cannot be beat.

What is your favorite aspect of guiding? How does it differ from climbing with friends?
My favorite part of guiding, aside from working outside, is getting the opportunity to meet so many interesting people and learning from them. Everyone has a story and everyone has something that makes them tick. I like to pick their brain and collect as much knowledge from them as I can in the time we have together. I have made many new friends from guiding, which is priceless. I am often asked if guiding takes the joy out of climbing for me. Not even a little. The big difference between guiding and climbing with friends is the pace. Since there is no instruction portion, we can move quickly and hardly have to say a word to each other.

How did you get started climbing?
My first “climbing” experience came when I was 16. I signed up for a guided climb of Mt. Rainier in Washington State. It was a fundraiser for the American Lung Association. I spent months training and attempting to raise the required $3500 to climb the mountain. In the end, I fell very short on the fundraising and had to recruit the help of my parents. I made it to the summit, barely. I was hooked and signed up for the same fundraiser the next year.

What is something people do not know about you?
I owned a photography business for 10 years before guiding. I also have a small white lap dog who is 13.

Who is your biggest supporter?
My wife, Hannah. She has endured countless days and nights and weeks alone when I am off climbing in the White Mountains, Ecuador, the Cascades etc. She also agreed to relocate to New Hampshire so I could be close to the mountains despite having her own business in Massachusetts. My brother Brett keeps the climbing ideas coming and inspires new adventures.

If you could you give one piece of advice for beginner climbers or those looking to push their grade what would it be?
Hire a guide. I could have avoided many terrible mistakes in my earlier days if I had sought the expertise of a guide. It is far to easy to pick up bad habits in climbing so it is better to learn it the correct way in the first place. Also, be prudent in the mountains and quickly learn your level of acceptable risk and understand your level will be different from many other climbers.