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“OWA is a great experience in a beautiful part of Colorado. All the counselors are really helpful, fun, and flexible. They help you safely step outside of your comfort zone and personalize your experience. I became close with other campers and built good relationships”- Sage, age 14
Austin, TX



Connect with OWA

James Faerber-Owner, Executive Director

James Faerber

James Faerber guiding mountain biking in Fruita at 18 road near Grand Junction

Originally from Lander, Wyoming James grew up cross country skiing and backpacking with his parents in the Wind River Mountain range. He was considered an Olympic hopeful in mountain biking as a teen and then James discovered mountain climbing. He has been climbing since he was 14 and his curiosity and passion for the sport have taken him into the Tetons, the Wind River Range, the Colorado Rockies, El Potrero Chico in Mexico, El Pico de Orizaba (18,500 ft) ,Yosemite (including 2 big wall routes) and many other climbing areas across North America. He has first ascents on routes in Wyoming, Colorado, Texas and in Mexico. James has successfully led 3 expeditions to the high volcanoes of Mexico, taught advanced mountaineering & ice climbing courses in the Mosquito range in Colorado and done grade IV rock climbs with clients in the Wind Rivers, he is a true all around climber with a passion for taking people on adventures of a lifetime. One of his most memorable moments was on a trekking trip deep into Mexico Copper Canyon and conversing with a Tarahumara family that hadn’t ever met a English speaking or caucasion person before! Today, James and his family enjoy the mild winters of the Texas Hill Country that allow year round climbing, mountain biking and kayaking. James is a certified AMGA Single Pitch and Climbing Wall Instructor, Wilderness First Responder, a NICA certified Head Coach (mountain biking), a Cat 1 (Expert) mountain bike racer and accomplished mountaineer. He is also the climbing coach at a private school in Texas during the winter months. James is a member of Access Fund and American Mountain Guide Association. He assists with bike races that raise scholarship money for Trips for Kids. James enjoys helping others discover their inner strengths. It was a privilege for James to provide a weekend of adaptive climbing for soldiers from The Center for the Intrepid who sustained injuries serving our country. His easy going, calm demeanor naturally encourages his clients to work hard to meet their personal goals.

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Chelsea Faerber-Co-Owner and Director of Marketing

Chelsea Faerber

Chelsea leading a backpacking trip for beginner in the rocky mountains.

Chelsea Faerber has been guiding and working in the recreation field since 1998. She started her career at City Kids Wilderness Project in Jackson, Wyoming and enjoyed working at the climbing shop, Wild Iris in Lander, Wyoming. She has a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Administration with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation and has an MBA. She was a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist at The Center for the Blind where she created and led outdoor recreation trips for the State of Texas. She is a Leave No Trace trainer. Chelsea has also spoken at several conferences around the United States to increase the knowledge of outdoor recreation for people with disabilities. One of the highlights of her climbing career was climbing The Grand Teton with her husband and her father.


Kenley Baraban-Field Director Texas and Rocky Mountain region

Kenley has been working for OWA for a few years now as a climbing guide. Climbing and guiding are definitely more than a hobby for Kenley, they are his passion. He enjoys taking beginners climbing just as much as climbing on his own. Kenley has a background of emergency medicine but at an early age decided he would rather spend his life outdoors climbing and seeing the world. He has been climbing for 7years and has climbed all over the United States and Mexico. Some of his favorite destinations are Mexico, Colorado and he also enjoys climbing in New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada on a regular basis. Of course Texas is where he spends a large amount of time climbing and knows all the local areas. He loves to mountain bike, snowboard, skydive, and pretty much anything that gets his heart pumping. He is always ready and looking for the next big adventure.


Sean McNally- Field Director Pacific Northwest

Sean McNally

Sean on a personal climbing trip in the high sierra linking mount Whitney East Face and Fishhook arete on Mount Russell.

Sean was born and raised in Austin, TX and is excited to be guiding for OWA! Sean started as a camper at OWA when he was just 10 yrs old and worked his way up through our advanced camps, expanding his skillset, proficiency, and passion for the outdoors. Now, Sean has made the outdoors both his personal and professional life pursuit. He is finishing his Master’s Degree in Recreation at Texas State University, and spends his free time doggedly exploring his love for the mountains, completing impressive climbing feats each year! Sean has done first ascents in Colorado, Texas and Mexicos El Gran Trono Blanco. He completed the Evolution Traverse in California Sierra Nevada Range. He leads WI4+ and 5.11 gear routes.  Sean is a Wilderness First Responder and member of the Access Fund (he has to be, his father is the President of the Board!)

Sean is an AMGA Apprentice Rock Guide! Having recently completed his Rock Guide Course in Joshua Tree, California.

You can follow some of his adventures on our Facebook page or our OWA Guide’s blog.

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Keenan McDonald- Guide

Keenan climbing Ancient Art 5.8 Outside Moab Utah near Canyonlands

Keenan climbing Ancient Art 5.8 Outside Moab Utah near Canyonlands

Keenan McDonald first became interested in outdoor adventure after attending an OWA summer camp at 13 years old. Since then he has been on many adventures climbing, caving, mountain biking and backpacking all across the country and abroad. Keenan grew up in Austin, Texas and attended St. Stephen’s School where he had the opportunity to develop skills in a variety of outdoor sports through the Devils Canyon Wilderness Program. He graduated from The College of Wooster in 2014 with a degree in philosophy. He ran the college outdoors club there for two years planning and attending trips to the Red River Gorge, the New River Gorge, Moab, Red Rocks and Joshua Tree. Keenan has worked for OWA since 2011 guiding climbing, mountaineering, backpacking and rock climbing. He loves to spend summers in Colorado where he gets to explore some of the world class rock climbing the state has to offer. Keenan currently lives in Austin, Texas.

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Ryan McNeely-Rock Climbing Guide

Ryan McNeely

Ryan on the Harvard Glacier in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska

Ryan is a man of many hats and helmets. He enjoys rock climbing, mountain biking, and mountaineering. He was born in Burleson, Texas, earned a degree in Environmental Studies from Texas State University, and currently lives in Austin, Texas. When in Colorado, you can find him on long traditional rock routes or hiking up one of the state’s many 14ers. Ryan joined the OWA team during the summer of 2011. Ryan graduated from a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) semester long leadership course before joining OWA. He is an AMGA Certified Single Pitch Climbing Instructor.  This picture is located on the Harvard Glacier in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska.

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Paul Johnson-OWA Senior Guide and AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Paul Johnson has worked for OWA on a variety of program since the 1990’s he is a currently certified AMGA Rock Guide and EMT he resides in New Mexico, a quick drive from both our Texas and Colorado locations. He has guided extensively for OWA throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Texas and on international expeditions. He is a Bolivia Mountaineering expert and has done first ascents throughout the US. When OWA director James Faerber first worked with Paul at Enchanted Rock in 2002 he knew his calm demeanor and professionalism was a huge asset to OWA! We look forward to having Paul guide with again this year!


Kirk Scheel-Senior Guide

Kirk Scheel

Kirk on an ice climbing trip to Lincoln Falls WI3 2 pitches winter 2013

Kirk is OWA’s medical director and lead guide for climbing and mountaineering trips. He got his start in the outdoors trekking through the Alps in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria as a youth. Kirk also teaches our wilderness medical courses that are scheduled throughout the year and has been a firefighter and paramedic for 17 years. Most impressively, Kirk is a two-time Iron Man finisher.


Paul Taylor-Senior Guide

Paul Taylor

Paul guiding on Orizaba in Central Mexico

Paul is a highly accomplished outdoor educator and wilderness guide with over ten years of experience. He planned and executed thru hikes of the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. He worked across the U.S. as a backpacking, paddling and climbing guide. He is experienced with ultra-light backpacking and wilderness kayaking. Paul’s passion is exploring exotic locations in Patagonia, and Peru.


Abby Wilkerson-Climbing Guide

Abby Wilkerson

Abby coiling ropes on the Greenbelt in Austin Texas

Abby enjoys all things outdoors! Especially rock climbing, trail running, backpacking, and slacklining. She is a certified Wilderness First Resonder, and is now earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Therapeutic Recreation at Texas State University. She currently lives in Austin, Texas, but enjoys taking trips all over the world! In the last few years, she has lived in Kenya and the UK. She has also explored Haiti, Maui, and most of the states in the Western US. Her favorite climbing & backpacking spots are Hueco Tanks, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Zion, the Pecos Wilderness.. and of course Reimers Ranch. She is currently guiding for OWA’s trips in Central Texas.

Sam Whitley-Climbing Guide

Rock climbing on the Cloister Wall in Kampong Trach; Kampot Provence; Cambodia

Sam Whitley doing a first ascent of a route in Cambodia

Say “sok sabay” to our overseas guide, Sam Whitley. Sam is currently an English teacher and climbing advisor in Cambodia, but when he is back in the U.S.A. he is a rock climbing guide for OWA. A born and raised Texan, he earned a degree in Business Management from Texas State University in 2011 then moved up to Colorado the following summer to be a climbing director for the Boy Scouts. He met OWA director James Faerber in Colorado and has been guiding for OWA since then. Sam has been climbing in Australia, Singapore, and even has some first ascents in Cambodia.


Cindy Abbott-Mountain Bike Guide


Cindy abbot rocking the OWA bike jersey at the Camp Eagle Classic in Rocksprings Texas

Cindy Abbot is a proud Aggie with a degree in Recreation, Park, and Tourism from A&M. She has been climbing in the Austin area for more than ten years now, but most likely you will find her on the dirt rather than the crag. The past six years her love has been for mountain bike racing. She got started racing off-road triathlons around the country and mountain bike racing in Colorado. She currently races professionally in the Texas circuit. She is a Professional Climbing Instructor, Association Base Managed Climbing Instructor and Climbing Wall Instructor Course Provider. Additionally, she has extensive technical climbing experience everywhere from Potrero Chico, Mexico to Arkansas and more specifically my hometown of Austin. She has also guided whitewater kayaking, canoeing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and backpacking in various locations around Texas and the U.S.

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Angie Elgin-Guide


Angie bakpacking in Yellowstone National Park Wyoming getting ready to summit!

Our new guide Angie Elgin comes to OWA from Virginia. She got her start in the Appalachian Mountains learning how to climb trees and scramble over rocks at a very young age. She found a passion for all things outdoors including backpacking, adventure racing, rock climbing, skiing, and especially paddling sports. She has spent the last 4 years perfecting her paddling strokes as a raft guide, canoe instructor, and SUP leader for various companies on the East Coast. She is also a certified Wilderness First Responder and registered EMT. Angie has committed herself to an outdoor lifestyle and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Recreation Management at Texas State University. Along with guiding for OWA, she works for Texas State as the Outdoor Program Graduate Assistant.

Lin Cameron-Chef

Lin Cameron - Copy

Lin Cameron getting out of the kitchen and into the wild!

Lin first joined OWA as a parent and participant in several international expeditions, lending her expertise as a naturalist. She previously was a partner in a successful natural food store in Nashville before developing a successful restaurant. With a broad knowledge of global foods and the nutrition required for high energy sports, Lin provides delicious meals at Base Camp. You will leave seasoned with good food and new friends. As a bonus, she is also a Wilderness First Responder.


Visiting Guides

Will McDonald-Rock Climbing Guide

Will Mcdonald

Will McDonald learning how to tie his shoes in the middle of nowhere!

Will attended OWA as a teen and has been an OWA rock guide for eight years. As a thirteen year old, a Wyoming rocktrip opened his eyes to the notion of travelling and climbing and he has been obsessed ever since. Will cut his teeth in the South Platte around the OWA base camp and has since climbed extensively in the West. Will enjoys climbing in Yosemite, Indian Creek, Red Rocks, Nevada, Zion, and all over Colorado. He visited Thailand to climb overhanging volcanic rock on the coast. He took several trips into Mexico to climb at Petrero Chico and has bivied down in Hueco Tanks for some good old West Texas bouldering.


Ryan Dorsey-Mountain Bike Guide

Ryan Dorsey

Ryan Dorsey winning the first mountain bike race he entered at Flat Creek Ranch near Comfort Texas

Ryan, a Colorado native, has been onboard with OWA since he participated in Colorado Mountaineering in 2000. He has climbed throughout North and South America as well as in New Zealand. Ryan spends his winters in Durango racing for Fort Lewis College. When not guiding, Ryan climbs, skis, runs, and races his bike. He is a pro mountain bike racer on the Honey Stinger Trek Team. Ryan speaks Spanish and is certified in Wilderness Advanced First Aid.


Jess Meiris-AMGA Assitant Rock Guide

Jes Meiris at the top of El Capitan after completing the solo womans speed record.

Jes Meiris at the top of El Capitan after completing the solo womans speed record.



Jes is a Colorado native whose passion for the outdoors was kindled at a very young age by highly enthusiastic and active parents. After living on both coasts and a few places in between, she makes her home in Colorado Springs during the winter months, and during the summer travels regionally guiding rock climbing trips. A strong leader in the community, she coaches one of the state’s top competitive climbing teams, leads both indoor and outdoor technical skills clinics, serves on the Board of a local climbing advocacy non-profit, and works as a professional model. When she’s not out guiding, she can be found hanging from the face of big walls, bombing down trails on a mountain bike, or sharing smiles with friends at the crag. For Jes there is no better reward than to share her passion for the sport of climbing with those who are eager to learn and ready for a challenge! She has been guiding since 2005. Jes is currently in the AMGA rock climbing guide program she is an AMGA Assitant Rock Guide for more information about AMGA rock guide programs go here!



Jes racking up for the womens solo record on the Nose of El Cap

Jes racking up for the womens solo record on the Nose of El Cap


Jeff Bendall-Rock Climbing Guide

Jeff Bendall

Jeff leading at Reimers Ranch just outside of Dripping Springs Texas

Jeff guides rock climbing weekend trips, school groups and more in Central Texas. Jeff came to OWA with a great deal of experience guiding in North Carolina.