Staff

Typically there are two instructors and one intern with a group of up to twelve students. The High Peaks Adventure instructors are talented wilderness leaders and teachers who are versed in backcountry travel and adolescent development. The intern is a college-aged High Mountain Institute alumni who is an aspiring outdoor educator. All High Peaks Adventure instructors have wilderness medical training.

For our days of rafting, mountain biking, and climbing, we work with contracted, professional guides who are specialists in their field. We work with Arkansas River Tours for our day of rafting and Absolute Bikes Adventures for our day of mountain biking. During these days, the High Peaks Adventure instructors focus on individually coaching students as opposed to instructing the group. For our day of climbing, instruction is provided by experienced High Mountain Institute staff.

Matt Turnbull

A native New Englander, Matt made the move to Leadville to teach history at the High Mountain Institute in 2007. After graduating from Bowdoin College in 2000, he earned a Master’s Degree in history from the University of Michigan. He has taught in a variety of settings, including stints as a winter naturalist at Vail, an experiential educator in Plymouth, MA, and a sixth grade English teacher in the Boston area. In past summers, he has participated in teaching seminars on “Federal Trials and Great Debates in American History” and “The Progressive Era.” He has also led and scouted backpacking and bicycle touring trips for Overland Summers, and instructed The Leading Edge courses for HMI. Matt now teaches history at Buckingham, Browne, and Nichols in Cambridge, MA. In his free time Matt enjoys running and biking in the mountains, cross-country skiing, and doing jigsaw puzzles when he should be grading papers.

Eliza O’Neil

Eliza’s love of the mountains began in New Hampshire, where she lived and worked in the high alpine huts across the northern Presidentials. Her first foray into the much larger Rocky Mountains began after graduating from Bates College in 2009, when she came to Leadville as an RMS 25 apprentice. After becoming a certified NOLS instructor, leading wilderness and cultural immersion trips for Overland Summers in Europe and Tanzania, and serving as head of the residential life program at Coastal Studies for Girls, a budding semester school in Maine, Eliza returned to HMI as Residential Life Faculty for the HMI Semester and Summer Term (semesters 29-32). Eliza then returned east and pursued her broadening interest in experiential education in other contexts, and earned her Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she now teaches and works, developing social emotional learning curriculum and resources for teachers around the country. Despite being away from Leadville, Eliza is devoted to the work and mission of HMI and is thrilled to be coming back to work for HPA.

Liddy Renner

A country girl at heart, Liddy was born in West Virginia and grew up in rural Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She developed a love for hiking and backpacking while spending time in Colorado with her family growing up. While studying Human Ecology and Poetry at Middlebury College, Liddy spends as much time as possible playing Squash, exploring the Adirondacks, Green Mountains, and incredible rivers and swimming holes around Middlebury. Liddy can’t wait to return to HMI after only visiting briefly since her time at HMI as a student in Semester 29. She has spent the past couple summers exploring Wyoming and the Adirondacks, but can’t wait to make Leadville and the Sawatch Range her home for the summer with the High Peaks Adventure and Lake County Backpacking trips.