JACKSON, WY — Like many of us, Brendan Burns’ passion for snowboarding and love of the mountains are what brought him to Jackson Hole over twenty years ago.
“I knew I wanted to be a backcountry guide before I moved here,” says Burns, whose new company Burns Guiding won bronze for Best Mountain Guide in this year’s Best of Jackson Hole. He pursued his love for the mountains and his sport, working his way from a “hole-in-the-wall snowboarding shop to instructing on the mountain, and eventually becoming a certified back-country guide.”
In the wintertime, Burns can be found guiding backcountry tours through JHMR, for whom he has now worked for twenty-two years. Like many of his peers, he has found a way to tap into his skills and the market for backcountry guiding as a freelance guide as well. Through Burns Guiding, he offers tours all over the world including Japan and Europe.
“It’s very difficult to acquire permits for backcountry guiding in this area,” Burns explains. “Major companies already own the rights to those permits, and it’s near impossible to get your hands on them as a freelance guide.” As a result, Burns has turned his business model outward, offering Jackson Hole skiers and snowboarders opportunities to experience world-class skiing in exciting and different parts of the world.
“I try to bring a sense of adventure and passion to what I like to do,” he says, “I’m just trying to share my love of traveling through the mountains.”
His adoration for the mountains runs deep and does not run off with the snowmelt. In the summer, Burns guides for Exum Mountain Guides, bringing patrons up major summits such as the Grand Teton throughout the warmer months.
“I didn’t even climb when I first moved here,” he laughs, “I went for my first climb at the old Teton Climbing Gym.” Despite his novice, Burns honed his skills quickly and began guiding for Exum thirteen years ago. “I love the history and community of Exum,” he says, “they’re unbelievable people: accommodating, professional and trusting, they’re always open to new ideas.”
In his free time, Burns can be found enjoying the ‘brown pow,’ his summer love. “It’s my real passion, I just love mountain biking,” he says.
When asked what placing in the Best of Jackson means to him, he explained that it reflects how hard he’s worked to get where he is professionally and that he’s grateful that the community recognizes his hard work.
As for his favorite business in the valley? He had to admit it’s his wife’s company, Shannon White Design. “She and her business enable me to do what I do. We really work together as a team.” Having met as employees of JHMR, their romance was sparked on a party flotilla on the Snake River one hot August day. Both now successful business owners, and parents to three-year-old Damian who will join the local’s program on the mountain this winter, theirs is a true Jackson Hole love story.