Q&A with Climbing Instructor Bayard Russell

Photo by Jim Surette

Bayard Russell is a 33 y/o mountain guide who lives in Madison NH with his fiance Anne.  He has been guiding for seven years and runs his own guide service, Cathedral Mountain Guides. He is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, in Durham, where he began climbing in 1996. Bayard is a AMGA certified rock instructor and Mountain Rescue service team leader and board member.

Q: When/how/why did you get involved with Kismet?

A: I got involved with Kismet in 2008 as a newly independent guide. I had worked with groups of kids guiding in the summer for years and Kismet offered an opportunity for me to continue doing so, but with the added satisfaction of reaching kids who would otherwise not have access to climbing.

Q: Is there a memorable story from a day out with the Kismet students that you wish to share?

A: I was walking out of Sundown Cliff’s Lost Horizon area on a day after a rain and kids were sliding around on the loose footing and wet leaves. It was a lot different than the paved sidewalks that a lot of the kids were used to.  There was one boy though wasn’t having a problem negotiating the terrain at all and I told him he was good at getting around. Hassan’s reply was, “It’s my Iraqi legs.”

Q: What do you like most about working with this organization?

A: What I like about Kismet is what I like about teaching climbing to teenagers in general.  It’s really satisfying to see them pick up the attitude and understanding of what climbing is and how it works, to watch them become climbers and to love it. That experience may help on some others levels back in their lives away from Kismet, it may not, but having experienced that satisfaction of proficiency, or just the experience of climbing is a great memory of a unique litttle world.

Q: Tell us a bit about your life when you are not working with Kismet?

A: I have focused a lot of personal climbing time in the last few years on developing new climbing routes and free time in general working on my fixer- upper where I live with my fiance Anne. In the past two years I have begun to guide independently and it’s been picking up. When I’m not guiding I build houses, something I really enjoy.

Q: Any parting thoughts?

A: Kismet is a great organization. If its therapeutic for the kids that pass through it that’s a wonderful thing, but simply providing an opportunity to experience something as vivid and beautiful as climbing and places it takes you is enough.