Kurt & Heidi Armacost
Heidi and Kurt met on the ski slopes of Utah, while Heidi was attending the University of Utah. Kurt managed a children’s ski school and Heidi was his prized instructor. In 1996 they took over the Armacost family business, where Kurt started guiding at the age of 16. During the early years Kurt would row the gear boat and follow his dad down the river. Heidi now manages the HCR office, while balancing two amazing future guides. Both of them have degrees from the University of Utah. At last count Kurt has logged over 500 trips in Hells Canyon. “It never gets old going to the best office in the world”. Family -time consists of river trips, camping, teaching two little girls how to fish. In the winter they never miss a weekend at the local ski resort.
A native of Eastern Oregon, Derek grew up in the Hells Canyon Area. He has been guiding on the Snake River and the Northwest since 1992. He brought his extensive knowledge to HCR in the late 90’s. Having racked up thousands of miles floating and fishing numerous rivers, Derek now spends the majority of his time casting his line into just two, the mighty Snake River of Hells Canyon and the River of No Return. "There just are not rivers anywhere that offer such a rich variety of exhilarating whitewater, spectacular scenery, and absolutely unparalleled angling". He has a master in Fine Art from University of Hawaii, and two bachelors of Arts from Eastern Oregon University. He also spent four years in the US Navy on the USS Nimitz working as a jet engine mechanic. To say his experience is diverse is an understatement. He now calls McCall Idaho his home.
Elijah Saltzgaber a.k.a Eli
An Idaho native, if it’s outdoors Eli loves it. Especially if you can paddle, cast, catch, hike, or educate about it. His deep knowledge of the 106 species Hells Canyon birds constantly amazes guest. During the winter Eli ski patrols in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. He is certified on the national registry of EMT’s. Eli’s easy going nature and approachability make him a go to guide when asking a question. He has been with HCR since 2005, and guided since 2002 on rivers in the North West. He likes to classify himself as well educated in applied hydrodynamics.
Came out west from Omaha Nebraska. He has guided since 2006, and found a home with Hells Canyon Raft in 2007. In the winter he works in the Ski Patrol at Mt Hood Meadows in Oregon. He recently built a cannon for launching explosives into avalanche zones. When not on the water or skiing, he mountain bikes, does extended mountaineering, SCUBA, fishing, and studies snow science. He recently built a facility to produce affordable water filtration in Kitale, Kenya. He has degrees from Gonzaga University in Civil Engineering, and Business. Plus he is still attending the school of life. He also has an EMT license, a National Avalanche School Graduate, an Avalanche II certification, and his friends say he is especially skilled at the steep boot pack when backcountry skiing.
Audrey is a native Idahoan and began her career as a river guide in 2008. Born and raised in Emmett, Idaho, Audrey has enjoyed living, working, and playing in a variety of locations around the west, including Oregon, California, Montana, Colorado and Mexico. She attended the University of California Santa Barbara where she earned a degree in Creative Studies and Exercise and Health Science. She also has a M. Ed from Montana State University. Working on the river three months a year ultimately lead to working in a classroom as a teacher for the other nine months of the year. Audrey currently lives in McCall and teaches high school English and drama. When school's out, she enjoys snowboarding, working out, gardening, baking cookies, kayaking, and being on stage.
From Yorktown, VA, Eileen’s first trip, at the age of 6, was with her dad on the Upper New River. She started guiding in 2007, and has logged thousands of river miles on the Ottawa River in Ontario/Quebec, Canada; the Rio Pescados in Veracruz, Mexico (and several others around that area. She has spent most of her time in West Virginian guiding on The New River, and the Gualey River. She is a wilderness first responder WFR from Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS; and CPR certified for the professional rescuer. She has a bachelor degree from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA in Fine Arts. She loves hiking, trail running, casting her fly line at huge rainbow trout, and doesn’t brag about it but Eileen loves to sew.
I am a ski instructor in the winter months and driver extraordinaire for Hells Canyon Rafting in the summer time. I became a Seattle transplant two years ago, and before that lived in Oregon and Iowa. My loves are family and all things northwest, except the rain. In my spare time I love skiing, biking, hiking, Pilates and becoming acquainted with this beautiful state of Idaho.
My Washington life: school bus driver, piano teacher, martial arts instructor, software trainer for law firms, jewelry design and sales, ski instructor and ski patrol, kind of all over the place, but never bored!
My Idaho life:: PSIA Level 2 Alpine certification, Children’s Specialist 2 (CS2) – highest PSIA child specific accreditation, Senior Specialist 2 (SS2) – highest PSIA-NW adult specific accreditation, PSIA-NI Board of Directors Representative Hiking Club, biking road and off, running, skiing, skiing, skiing, teaching skiing, training instructors, home projects and training to become a Pilates instructor.
As a sophomore in high school, I was on a Ski Club trip that brought our group to McCall, Idaho in 1978 from Walla Walla. I fell in love with the area but did not return until the mid 2000s to vacation with family. Upon my husband’s retirement last year we finally made our move to McCall.
Growing up in the mountains of Utah, Abi has had a lifelong passion for all things outdoors. A guide since 2012, she has logged thousands of river miles on the Salmon and Snake rivers in Idaho. While not on the river, she works as a Lift Operator at Solitude Mtn. in Salt Lake, UT. Abi has two degrees in economics and political science from Utah State University, is trained in swift water and wilderness rescue, and is currently working on obtaining an EMT license.
Sean Gould was born and raised in McCall, Idaho. He began guiding for Hells Canyon Raft in 2015. He is a certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR) from Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS and a certified Swiftwater Rescue Technician from Wilderness Rescue International. He has a Doctorate degree in philosophy from the Universiteit van Tilburg in the Netherlands. In the winter he works as assistant program director and glorified snowboard instructor at a local non-profit hill, The Little Ski Hill.
A fourth generation Idahoan who grew up on a farm/ranch in southern Idaho."I had always loved Idaho, but truly didn’t realize all it had to offer until I moved away. After 10 years, I was drawn back home to Idaho. It was then that I could recognize and appreciate all the incredible resources available and access to some the most amazing whitewater in the world!" With 12 years experience he would rather be on the river than just about anywhere else. During the off season he is an avid hunter, fisherman, skier, snowmobiler, and hiker. "I love knowing that the snow I enjoy all winter in our mountains becomes the very water I enjoy in the summer in our rivers."
Anneke grew up in the dry, desert valley of Phoenix, AZ, but has always been drawn to rivers and oceans. With family in Idaho, and her first thrilling and scenic rafting trip on the Salmon River as a teenager, the seed was planted for her to become a raft guide. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2012 with a B.A. in Social Welfare and Geography, she has tried on many hats and lived in many places, but has always held a love for wild places and for the joys that come from sharing them with friends and strangers. In 2015, she began guiding for a rafting company in California's gold country, where she worked two seasons, and then moved to Idaho where the rivers are many, the winters are long, and the people are warm. She enjoys hiking, swimming, storytelling, cooking, and a good solid pun.