Professional Experience

Wyoming Catholic College employees a PhD in Outdoor Education to run our Outdoor Program. Dr. Thomas Zimmer is competent and certified not only to teach students, but also to train students to become future instructors themselves in these activities.

Experience in diverse climates, including mountains, canyons, and deserts allows Dr. Zimmer to be an effective educator for a broad range of student interests. Whitewater expertise in both rafts and kayaks is complemented by years spent rock and ice climbing, mountaineering, canyoneering, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing. Furthermore, due to his experience within the Rocky Mountains, students are rarely in a place where Dr. Zimmer has not been.

Specific activity sections from Dr. Zimmer’s experience:

Whitewater Rafting

  • Certified ACA Swift Water Rescue Instructor; taught numerous courses
  • Led multiple week-long college courses on the Yampa, Green, & Colorado rivers
  • Rafting for 20 years (CO, UT, AR, CA, ID, OR, WA, AK, NM, WY, WV, Costa Rica, Ecuador, New Zealand)
  • Professional guide for 18 Years
  • Rafting for 20 years, 20,000 river miles (8,000 commercially)
  • Class V guide for 8 years (e.g. Gore Canyon, Pine Creek of the Ark, Upper Gauley)
  • Professionally guided various multi-day sections
  • Raft guide instructor for 6 years, both oar and paddle boats (3 different companies)
  • Familiar with multiple commercial guiding operations (ownership in 3 companies)
  • Professionally guided on 12 rivers in Alaska, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, West Virginia
  • Head Boatman/ Lead Guide/ Lead Instructor for commercial rafting company of 50 staff
  • Men’s national raft racing team captain for 3 years (2000 National Champions)
  • Trip Leader for Salt River, Cataract Canyon, Westwater, Desolation/Greys, Nenana, Gore Canyon, Brown’s Canyon, Pine Creek, Numbers, Royal Gorge, Dowd Chutes, Lake Fork, Taylor River, Shoshone, Roaring Fork, Gates of Lodore, Dolores & more

Whitewater Kayaking (play boating, big water, creek boating)

  • Certified ACA Swift Water Rescue Instructor; taught numerous courses
  • Kayaking for 20 years (CO, UT, AZ, CA, NM, ID, OR, WA, WY, AK, WV, MD, NC, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, New Zealand)
  • Kayak instructor for 8 years (3 companies, CO, UT, AK)
  • Over 7,000 kayaking river miles
  • Class V safety boater for 7 years (Pine Creek, Gore Canyon)
  • Class V video boater (Pine Creek, Gore Canyon, Upper Gauley)
  • Favorite rivers and creeks: OB-Joyful, Big South, Pine Creek and the Numbers, Gore Canyon, Clear Creek of the ARK, Upper Yough, Gauley, Payette, Royal Gorge

Rock Climbing  (traditional, sport, multi-pitch, aid climbing)

  • AMGA Certified SPI Instructor
  • Climbing for 20 years (CO, NV, CA, AK, UT, ID, OG, WV, WA, MD, Europe)
  • Professional instructor/guide for 20 years (traditional, sport, multi-pitch)
  • Owner of 2 guiding companies for over 9 years (permits to Penitente Canyon, San Juans, Arkansas River Valley)
  • Legally developed climbing site on BLM land (bolted and cleaned ten routes)
  • Vertical rescue leader/ thirdman/ trainer for WSC Mountain Rescue Team and Summit County Rescue Group
  • Constructed climbing gym in Colorado Springs, WSC, and multiple private walls
  • Rock scaled for American Mining Services & Rock and Co. (vertical rock rescue/excavation/blasting/safety nets, etc.)
  • Favorite climbs/areas: Ellingwood Arête, Castleton Tower, Indian Creek, Black Canyon (Prodigal Son, Escape Artist, Blue Collar Corner), Rocky Mountain National Park (Petit Grepon), New River Gorge, Red Rocks, Joshua Tree, City of Rocks, Zion


  • Mountaineering for 18 years (CO, UT, CA, OR, WA, AK, Ecuador, Europe)
  • Professional guide for over 10 years
  • Led multiple academic college course expeditions, 16-day trip to Ecuador summiting various volcanoes and an attempt on Cotopaxi (19,000 ft), and 16-day alpine and glacial mountaineering trip to Washington including Mt. Rainier and many shorter courses in Colorado and Utah
  • Strong skills in alpine rock, glacial mountaineering, ski mountaineering, and rescue
  • Owner of guiding company for 5 years (permits in N. San Juan’s)
  • Mountain rescue volunteer for 10 years (Gunnison County and Summit County)
  • Coordinator/trainer in mountain rescue for WSC MRT
  • Guided 18 people up Mt. Rainer in 1998 (training included a climb up Mt. Baker, glacier travel, crevasse rescue, winter camping, environmental ethics, and more)
  • Guided 4 people up Cotopaxi in Ecuador
  • Well-known summits: 44 of Colorado’s Fourteeners, over 20 summits professionally guided, nearly 100 peak summits over 13,000 feet in Colorado including winter ascents, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainer, Mt. Shuksan, Mt Baker, Liberty Bell, Mt. Lizard Head (winter ascent), Ellingwood Arête x5 (guided), Hallet’s Peak, Petite Grepon, Dream Weaver, Cotopaxi, multiple peaks in the Dolomites, and more

Ice Climbing

  • Ice climbing for 18 years
  • Instructor for 3 seasons
  • Various multi-pitch climbing experiences (Colorado, Utah, Washington, Alaska)
  • Comfortable climbing WI 5


  • Canyoneering for 8 years
  • Instructor for 8 years
  • Locations: Canyonlands National Park; Fish Canyon, Utah; Salt River area, Arizona; Zion National Park; Hanksville area in Utah, San Rafeal Swell, and more
  • Knowledge and experience in canyoneering travel, safety, and rescue

Mountain Biking

  • Mountain biking for 20 years
  • Instructor for 5 years
  • Strong technical rider with trials skills
  • Proficient in bike repair and typical trailside repair skills

Skiing/Snowboarding  (Alpine, Alpine Touring, Telemark, Backcountry)

  • Alpine skiing for 30 years
  • Telemark skiing for 18 years
  • Snowboarding periodically for 5 years
  • Backcountry skiing for 18 years, Telemark, AT
  • Expert in Big Mountain, Steeps, Backcountry, Terrain Park (rails/hits)
  • Professional Ski Patrol 7 years both Alpine and Telemark
  • Professional backcountry and snow cat skiing guide
  • Professional avalanche forecaster/traveler/rescuer
  • Professional avalanche dog handler/trainer
  • Evaluator for Summit County Rescue Dog Program
  • Ski patrol avalanche route leader, ski and toboggan instructor, and tramway lift evac trainer
  • Avalanche level I and II since 1996 (CBMG & Silverton Avalanche School)
  • Intermediate experience in Nordic/Cross-Country and Skate Skiing (groomed runs for Breckenridge Nordic Center)


  • Wilderness Medicine: extensive wilderness medicine training and experience, WFR and W-EMT since 1998; SOLO WFR Instructor since 2014
  • Backpacking: over 20 years, extensive professional experience, navigation skills, expedition logistics (food prep, permits, etc.) and more
  • Fishing: intermediate fishing skills, backcountry fly fishing
  • Spelunking: intermediate technical caving skills and experience
  • Survival Skills: experience with survival skills, bow-drill fires, etc.


  • AMGA Certified SPI Instructor
  • EMT-B & CPR: 1995-Present
  • WFR & Wilderness EMT: 2005-Present
  • ACA Swiftwater Rescue Level 4 Instructor: 2011-Present
  • SOLO WFR Instructor: 2014-Present
  • Leave No Trace Master Educator Instructor, 2006
  • Avalanche Level I: 1995; Avalanche Level II: 1998, Recertification 2001
  • Mountain Rescue Association (MRA), Field/Support Certified, 1996, Rescue Certified, 1998
  • PCS, Positive Control Systems, 2007, 2009
  • Rocky Mountain Tours White Water Guide School, 1995