The heart of the Arizona Climbing and Adventure School (ACAS) resides with its instructional staff. Every course bears the mark of its instructor's leadership and vision. ACAS instructors are dedicated educators, caring and skilled in a number of disciplines. Whether leading a technical ascent or explaining the nuances of desert ecology, these men and women form the backbone for every course.

Instructors are selected for their maturity, judgment, teaching experience and outdoor skills. A genuine interest in people and love for teaching are as important as an extensive climbing resume. Our select instructors are AMGA, PCGI, Leave No Trace (LNT), EMT and Wilderness First Responder certified. Many have worked at other outdoor educational organizations and schools such as Prescott College, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) or Outward Bound. Their years of climbing, canyoneering and teaching have made them unequalled in safety and experience. Climbing and wilderness adventures are more than our business, it's our way of life!

To learn more about our staff click here.

Mark Brontsema
WMI/WFR Certified
LNT Certified
NOLS Certified
Colorado Outward Bound Certified

Climbing Director,
Jayci Ferrimani
AMGA/RCI Certified
WMI/WFR Certified

Office Manager and Workshop Director,
Michelle Monette
WMI/WFR Certified
LNT & NOLS Certified
COBS Certified

Climbing Instructor,
Eric Crosby
AMGA/SPI Certified
WMI/WFR Certified
LNT & NOLS Certified

Climbing and Yoga Instructor
Amylee Thornhill
WMI/WFR Certified

SPRAT Instructor,
Dan Janssen
WMI/WFR Certified

We at the Arizona Climbing and Adventure School (ACAS), want personally to tell you how pleased we are that you are considering joining us for a course. If you do come, you will look back on your ACAS course as one of the great adventures and learning experiences of your life.

Along with adventure will come challenges.
Indeed, the very purpose of ACAS is to help you find untapped resources within you; to let you discover that you have the ability to do more than you thought you could.

The number one concern our students have before coming is "not being able to meet the physical challenges of the course." We address that concern by encouraging a noncompetitive and nonevaluative learning environment. You set your own goals for the course. And you are the sole judge of your success. Upon completing the course, better that 95% of our students felt they benefited greatly from the experience.

Our Course's Focus On:

... Transcending self-imposed limitations
... Self-knowledge
... Tenacity
... Teamwork and responsibility
... Promote skill mastery
... Leadership skills
... Self-reliance

Each course has a set curriculum; depending on which course you enrolled in, expect to camp, hike, make challenging decisions, rock climb and rappel off vertical faces, explore deep desert slot canyons; but don't expect your course to happen in any routine way or on any particular schedule. The itinerary, the route, the staff and the weather will all work together to make your course unique and challenging.

Each course offers you the opportunity to risk, to trust, to try and to learn. Our courses and workshops are designed to allow you to learn by doing. You will be asked to be an active participant, to experience adventure based programming firsthand. You will find that our courses can leave a lasting impression on you.

Expect your course to be dramatic, exciting, educational and fun, but be prepared for it to be even more. Your ACAS experience is still ahead of you. The itinerary has yet to be finalized; you and the uncontrollable forces of nature are about to write the story.

Be ready for anything. Get personally invested. Get excited. Get ready for one of the truly great outdoor experiences of your life!

We hope you look forward to being with us as much as we look forward to having you!


Mark Brontsema, director
Michelle Monette, assistant director
Jayci Ferrimani, climbing and canyoneering director
Hallie Mueller, climbing instructor
Mike Riley, climbing, canyoneering & LNT instructor
Colin Kubarych, climbing and canyoneering instructor
Dan Janssen, SPRAT Level III instructor - Rope Rescue instructor
Eric Crosby, climbing instructor
Catie Armstrong, climbing instructor
Amylee Thornhill, climbing, yoga instructor
Jonathan Reckling, climbing instructor
Avi Katz, climbing instructor
Beth Suffolk, yoga and hiking instructor
Marc Ronzeiha, office staff
..................and the rest of our exceptional staff!

"Triumph and disaster are equal imposters" – R. Kipling

Director, Mark Brontsema's colorful 32-years in the climbing and adventure-based profession started with Exum Mountain Guides in Moose, Wyoming in 1977 and Team Leader for the Grand Teton National Park's Search and Rescue (SAR). In 1981, Mark enrolled in the National Outdoor Leadership School and soon after became a mountaineering instructor. Mark pursued climbing as an instructor in Yosemite, Joshua Tree, North Cascades and Alaska. In 1993, he had the opportunity to be with the Colorado Outward Bound School in Leadville, Colorado.

"He had that rare weird electricity about him-- that extremely wild and heavy presence that you only see in a person who has abandoned all hope of ever behaving"normally."

Mark has had the opportunity to climb, sea kayak, canyoneer and backpack in some of the most remote areas of the Western Hemisphere. Mark has participated on international expeditions – from cold Alaskan mountains and oceans to the vertical pinnacles of Yosemite and Tierra Del Fuego. He has also been the director of Youth Wilderness Challenges, a community education and substance abuse prevention program of the Cave Creek School District and a Sierra Club outing leader.

The sheer south face of Cerro Torre. The dotted line indicates our route and the “X” marks our location after three days of grueling climbing before the avalanche which would take Chuck's life and part of mine.

While mountaineering, Mark has endured and survived some of the harshest weather conditions the planet has to offer. Over the years, he has had a number of successful ascents, as well as his share of injuries, losses and major failures.

In 1987 Mark was swept off a vertical rock face by a snow and rock avalanche on a remote mountain in Tierra Del Fuego and suffered 14 fractures to his right leg. One of his team members perished in the avalanche. Mark spent three days alone on the mountain with severe injuries enduring high winds and freezing temperatures before being rescued. After two years of physical therapy, along with Mark's stubborn determination and perserverance, which he attributes to years of a highly active life style in the mountains.

Mark has returned to rock climbing, kayaking, and canyoneering and continues to provide staff and students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed at the sport. Mark's endurance, patience, humor and experience is seconded only by his ability to teach and lead.

Mark also donates a portion of the resources of the Arizona Climbing and Adventure School to the Ronald McDonald House, CARE, Make A Wish Foundation, Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF.

Mark has held certification in Team and Trust Building, Wilderness Therapy, Rock Climbing, Sea-Kayaking, Mountaineering, Outdoor Leadership and Wilderness First Aid/Responder from the Colorado Outward Bound School, American Mountain Guides Association, the National Outdoor Leadership School and is a member of the American Safe Climbing Association (ASCA), American Alpine Club member, ACCESS FUND and Leave No Trace (LNT) Partner.
- by Michelle Monette

Mark has written climbing and gear review articles for The New York Times and has been an ANA (Arizona Newspapers Association) award winning columnist for three years.


Mark's adventure column, 'On the Edge' is about his many enlightening, humorous and life changing adventures which can be read by clicking here.

Climbing and
Canyoneering Instructor

Colin Kubarych
AMGA/SPI Certified
WMI/WFR Certified
NOLS Certified

Climbing Instructor,
Hallie Mueller
WMI/WFR Certified

Climbing Instructor,
LNT and Adventure Instructor
Michael Riley
AMGA/SPI Certified
WMI/WFR Certified
LNT Master Certified
NOLS Certified
Prescott College -
Outdoor Ed.

Climbing Instructor,
Jonathan Reckling
AMGA/SPI Certified
WMI/WFR Certified
LNT/NOLS Certified

Climbing Instructor,
Avi Katz
AMGA/SPI Certified
WMI/WFR Certified
NOLS Certified

Yoga & Hiking Instructor
Beth Suffolk
WMI/WFR Certified
LNT/NOLS Certified