Nikki Mcgee - Founder & Executive Director
Hello! I’m Nikki McGee, founder and executive director of EMG! I teach rock climbing, yoga, snowboarding, fishing, backpacking, experiential outdoor education, and environmental stewardship. I grew up in Minnesota without a lot of resources or exposure to the outdoors until my college years when I was blessed to be introduced to rock climbing. Nothing I had done before connected me more with myself and the land around me. Nothing else had ever given me such purpose and focus! Little did I know that this would start me on path where I would end up calling Utah my home and climbing and guiding my career! None of this would’ve ever come about, nor would I have ever gotten this far, without the generosity of my friends and colleagues in the outdoor industry. For this I am eternally grateful and wish to pay it forward!
Erkki Becker - co-founder & director of communications
Hi! Since early on in my childhood, the outdoors have been a big, important part of my life. As a teen growing up at the foot of the Wasatch mountains in Utah valley, the times spent both alone and with friends out in the wilderness were extremely important for me and my growth as a person. One key thing I got out of those times spent outdoors was a broader perspective on myself, society, and the planet we’re all on. Through the years, the jobs I’ve chosen were all either directly engaged with the outdoors, like patrolling on the ski slopes, or counselor with a wilderness therapy outfit, or were in locations that gave me access to the outdoors, like the hostel I worked at in Hawaii or where I currently work, High West Distillery in Park City, Utah. I’ve been involved with EMG since our first gear donations delivery trip back in 2015, and it’s been an incredibly rewarding part of my life. It’s been a lot of work, and the journey to where we are today has been a long one, but every time I get the opportunity to interact with the people EMG serves, it’s completely apparent that it’s all been very much worth it. I’m very excited to continue this work, and be a part of the growth EMG is experiencing, so we can reach more and more people.
emily mahaffey - lead instructor
I am a Firefighter/EMT for Unified Fire Authority in Salt Lake City. I also coach climbing and teach Wilderness Medicine classes. I was born and raised in Salt Lake City. I have lived in four states and two countries. I love climbing, being outside, my dog, and drinking coffee. I love wilderness medicine because not only are you saving someone’s life, you have to do it with limited resources. It requires creativity and resourcefulness and thinking outside the box. I think it allows people to open their mind a little more and realize that a lot of things are multi-use, you just have to adjust your thinking.
I got started with Elevated Mountain Guides after coaching climbing with NIkki. She mentioned she needed some help and was going down in the fall to teach some courses. I immediately jumped at the chance! I love teaching, especially wilderness medicine, and to teach a group like the one in Peru is incredible!
Kylie Christensen - volunteer
Buenas, I’m Kylie Christensen!
I’m lucky to work at the United Way of Salt Lake, a nonprofit dedicated to changing the odds so every child has a chance to succeed in school and life. Previously, I worked with the Waterford Research Institute’s UPSTART program, a nonprofit that focuses on kindergarten readiness for Utah children. I love people, connection, climbing, being outside, learning and teaching. I especially love the connection forged between people when they’re doing things they love in awe inspiring environments! I studied anthropology and the Spanish language at Utah State University. I lived in Logroño, Spain where I fell even more head over heels for the Spanish language, and experiencing other cultures. I’ve been climbing and canyoneering for 14 years, and I’ve worked as a coach and belay instructor in Utah climbing gyms for 5 years. I spent a summer as a zipline and mountain bike tour guide in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. I adore being involved in the outdoor community and sharing my love of outdoor activities with others.
christina haddix - executive assistant
In 2014 I made the huge decision to quit my career as a Pastry Chef to go back to school. I had been working in the culinary industry for almost 10 years and while I loved it, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that something was missing from my life. I knew I wanted make a difference in the world and wanted to work in the nonprofit sector through PR and marketing. This need drove me to enroll at Salt Lake Community College where I recently graduated with an associate's degree in Communications. I will be continuing my education at University of Utah in the fall.
I was inspired to join Elevated Mountain Guides after hearing Nikki speak so passionately about it at a dinner party in 2016 and I have been involved with the team ever since. Working with a team so dedicated and passionate has helped me stay inspired to work towards my Communications Degree.
Kris Franz - Relations Manager
Growing up outside Chicago, I always loved exploring the woods and waters of Northern Wisconsin and throughout my years at Purdue I would spend my free time skiing and exploring the mountain west. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to move to Salt Lake City in 2007 for work and took full advantage of all Utah had to offer from the slopes to the trails and everything in between. My work as a Sales Engineer took me all over the mountain west before being relocated to Denver in 2014. Colorado has become my new home and also provided me an opportunity to grow in my career with a transition to a global consulting firm back in 2016. I have always found great pleasure in sharing my favorite mountain places with friends and family and this drive has extended into volunteering in the adaptive sports community first in Utah and now in Colorado. The way nature and the mountains can inspire people who otherwise may not have an opportunity to climb, ski, hike or bike is incredibly rewarding. In my free time I can be found enjoying the great outdoors skiing, running, camping, and connecting with my local Alumni association as a board member.
JAXON CHRISTENSEN - PROJECT CLIMB INTERN
My name is Jaxon Forrest Christensen and I am the Project Climb intern for EMG. I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah which allowed me to spend the majority of my free time in the mountains starting at a young age. I love to hike, ski, surf, climb, and pretty much anything else outdoors. I am a Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (PRT) major with an emphasis in Outdoor Recreation Studies at the University of Utah. This major has changed my life in several ways. First, because I never really knew that I could go to school for a program that allows me to integrate all my interests into my studies. Second, because it has lead me to opportunities like this internship. During my first semester in the PRT program, my classmates and I designed an environmental sustainability/health and wellness fair that we put on for elementary students from a Title One school. This experience made me realize that spreading recreation opportunities to underserved communities is something I could see myself involved in for my professional career. So, when I learned of this internship, I knew it would be perfect for me.
I am so excited to work with EMG because the mission and values of the organization align with my own personal ones. One of my guiding characteristics has always been that I am passionate about the well-being of the environment and believe that we as recreationalists have a duty to protect it. With this internship, I will be able to help develop and put on programs designed to get children from underserved communities into the outdoors. Through this I hope to gain further knowledge on how to successfully run outdoor programs and how non-profit organizations operate. I cannot wait to see where this opportunity takes me next!
HARRIS HADZIABDIC - SOCIAL MEDIA INTERN
Growing up in Salt Lake City, being nestled in the mountains has always been a crucial part of my life. I started to really appreciate the landscape when I began skiing around 6 years old and always wanted to capture the beauty of my home. For my 7th birthday my mom gave me an old Polaroid camera, which has influenced my choice to study photojournalism at Salt Lake Community College.
Being so close to the mountains has allowed me to explore rock climbing, photography, and preserving the land with leave no trace ethics, all of which are crucial elements of my life.
I’m excited to work with EMG because we get to share experiences in the outdoors which brings everyone together. I’m very excited for the good times to come!
SAVANNAH CUTHBERTSON - PROJECT CLIMB INTERN
Hi! I am Savannah, an intern for Elevated Mountain Guides. I grew up overseas in 5 different countries and moved to the United States for University. I took a year off after Sophomore year to work as a Wilderness Therapy Guide in St. George Utah. I am now a student at the University of Utah and am excited to be working with Elevated Mountain Guides! I am passionate about introducing people to the outdoors and believe in the positive influence it can have on peoples lives.