Michael Bortnowski

AIARE Course Instructor

Mike’s beginnings started with growing up on the outskirts of Chicago and learning to snowboard in his middle school years. He became obsessed with his newfound passion and didn’t realize how much it would shape his path in the coming years. While still in high school, he went on a life altering road-trip with close friends to explore the wild places of the West and was instantly hooked and humbled by the varied geography and recreational opportunities that abounded. Ironically, the first place he stopped on that tour was Estes Park, CO which he now calls home for the winter months, splitting the remainder of his time not traveling in the Denver area.

Learning to snowboard on the icy “mosquito bites” of Wisconsin, Mike tried hard to overcome his geographical disadvantages by taking as many ski trips as possible out West to hone his skills riding more sustained terrain. Longing for even more challenging backcountry descents, he eventually made the decision to relocate to Golden, CO and attend the Colorado School of Mines to pursue a degree in Geological Engineering. Torn between finishing his degree and following his heart, Mike chose to withdraw from the School of Mines and its Outdoor Program (which he helped supervise) to fully focus on guiding and outdoor education.

CMS Guide Michael Bortnowski Splitboarding
Michael Bortnowski Shredding the Gnar!

In his guide training and personal endeavors, he has descended technical 55+ degree couloirs, ridden directly off the summits of remote high altitude peaks in perfect snow, rock climbed in Colombia, surfed in Australia and Hawaii, scrambled up ridges in Poland and Slovakia, ice climbed in San Juans, and has shared multitudes of memories with lifelong friends and clients. He is an avid traveler and loves to explore, always more interested in venturing off the beaten path and sharing new experiences. He is also a devoted conservationist, a proud member of the LGBTQ community, and spends many hours pondering how to best make a lasting positive impact on the world and people around him. Although he remains humble and recognizes that he still has much to learn, Mike has amassed a wealth of knowledge in his primary disciplines of Avalanche Education and Splitboard Guiding and prides himself on being an approachable and skilled guide and educator that can relate to almost anyone.

Mike is currently an AIARE Level 1 & 2 Instructor, a certified Wilderness First Responder, LNT trainer, and has completed the AMGA Ski Guide and Single Pitch Instructor Courses. He has attended the International Snow Science Workshop as a delegate and seeks out additional forms of professional development regularly. He plans to pursue certification in the Alpine, Rock, and Ski disciplines with aspirations of making education and guiding a vital part of his career goals. He looks forward to getting to know you and igniting your own passions!

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