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.

Seton Talty

Seton was raised on Long Island, NY. Growing up, she explored and fell in love with the West during visits and long road trips with her family. In high school, she had the opportunity to attend HMI in the spring of 2011 where she learned the magic of HMI and Leadville. Then, Seton adventured to the mountains of the East to attend Middlebury College. She completed Middlebury in December with a degree in International & Global Studies: Latin American Studies and a focus in Geography. Seton was an HMI apprentice in Semester 36, and currently works at the School for Ethics and Global Leadership. She is eager to be back in Leadville to help foster the same passionate, fun-loving community she enjoyed during her time at HMI.


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.

Clara Maeder

Clara was born and raised in Washington DC. At Bates College, she discovered her passion for outdoor exploration and the study of Spanish and Latin America. Clara has incorporated both into everything she has done since. She lived for nearly three years in Latin America backpacking from the Andes to the Amazon, studying community development in Bolivia, investigating and publishing an article about the student movement in Chile, teaching English at a Mexican university as a Fulbright grantee, and traveling with and teaching American students in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Clara joined the HMI community as a Semester 35 Apprentice, is currently the HMI Semester Spanish faculty, and is thrilled to work in yet another capacity as an instructor for the High Peaks Adventure.


Peter Talpey

Peter grew up in a suburb of Rochester, NY. He spent his childhood taking family canoe trips in the Finger Lakes and dabbled in backpacking through the Adirondacks. It was not until his time at Hamilton College that Peter’s interest in the outdoors really snowballed. He led orientation trips for incoming freshmen, and spent the rest of his time working on math problems or hanging out at the climbing wall. Over the summers during college, Peter worked on a dude ranch outside of Cody, WY, and upon graduation he moved to Wyoming full time. He has since been helping to manage the ranch and explore his interest for horses, hunting, and living in rural Wyoming. He joined the HMI community as a math apprentice in Semester 38 and is excited to return for High Peaks Adventure.