Meet the Guides

The Chilkat Guides Team

The guides at Chilkat Guides are highly qualified, and passionate about what they do. With first descents all over the globe, a wide scope technical outdoor and safety skills, and more experience than any river guides in the area. You will enjoy their wealth of information and love of the area.

eliprofile2Sean Gaffney

Sean is the President of Chilkat Guides and has been instructing and guiding for 30 years. He has led extensive rafting, skiing, high-altitude mountaineering and trekking expeditions throughout North and South America, Africa and Asia.

eliprofile2Eli Fierer

Eli is one of the owners and General Manager. He has guided and instructed for more than 14 years throughout North America, Alaska, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, and China. He is a certified EMT , holds a Avalanche Level III and is an accomplished teacher.

Mike S ProfileMike Schmeling

Mike is our Director of Cruise programs and has been working in Skagway since 2007. Between skiing in the early season and fishing for salmon in the late season, Mike manages all of our Skagway operations and Cruise ship programming during the summer months.

Jake GC 5

Jake Eckhardt

A lifetime of outdoor sports and travelling around the world has uniquely prepared Jake to facilitate adventures for guests and guides alike. Jake is our Haines Program Manager and has been working and guiding in Alaska since 2008.


Bart Henderson

Bart Henderson has been guiding raft trips since 1969. He has over 35,000 river miles guiding under his belt, from the Grand Canyon to Africa and much of the world in between. In 1976 he came to Alaska and explored the Tatshenshini, fell in love with it and been working on the river ever since…


Scott Ramsey

Scott enjoys all aspects of river-running and mountaineering, he has been a guide and aspiring naturalist for 13 years. He has been a part of the training at Chilkat Guides since 1997, and has been leading the ‘Guide School’ since it’s inception in 2004. Scott is the only guide on staff that has led trips in all of our program areas, and he is a certified Swiftwater Rescue Technician



Shaun has been guiding with Chilkat Guides since 1999. In addition to leading guided trips on the Alsek, Tatshenshini and Kongakut, Shaun is a Swiftwater Rescue Technician and WFR. As a senior guide, he also supports our guide training programs. He has worked extensively in Antarctica and guided rivers around the world.


steve ritzinger profile

Steve Ritzinger

Steve has been guiding with Chilkat Guides since 2001. He grew up adventuring in the wilds of the Boundary waters and Colorado. He has an infectious love for the wildness of Alaskan rivers. He’s an avid backcountry skier and a certified Swift Water Rescue Technician. Steve is also a talented musician, teaching and performing on a variety of instruments on a regular basis.

Steve Merrow - webSteve Merrow

Steve has been guiding rivers in Alaska since 2008. He brings a wealth of knowledge about rivers and Southeast Alaska Natural and cultural history. “I remain in awe of this place and find inspiration in the places I guide and the people that join me. The Alsek and Tatshenshini Rivers are the places I am most passionate about.” When he’s not rowing a boat, he loves taking photos, backcountry skiing, hiking, and cooking large meals for great people.


Jessica Blick - webJessica Blick

Whether paddle captaining on the Blanchard, or cooking up a feast on Walker Lake on the Tatshenshini, Jessica is at home on the river.


There are over 100 people on staff at Chilkat Guides. Check out the site after river training in May to see this years’ guides.