More About Us

Tom on Emerald Peak, 2021
Tom on Emerald Peak, 2021

Sawback was founded by Tom Wolfe in 1995 as a small one-man operation, running mountain hiking trips for groups in BC and Alberta. Since then we have increased our programming to become one of the most successful independent guiding operations in Western Canada.

This coming winter season we have over 20 trips scheduled across BC, Alberta and Scandinavia. We provide employment to over 20 guides, and support local ski lodge businesses, porters, cooks, and hotels here in Western Canada. We also offer exotic trips to the farthest-flung regions of the world. Each winter we strive to provide our loyal clients, as well as new clients, unique and amazing ski trips of a lifetime.

Tom is a trained and internationally certified Mountain Guide and a professional member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), the International Federation of Mountain Guides (IFMGA) and the Canadian Avalanche Association. He speaks English and German and can get by in French and Spanish. Tom holds two university degrees, summa cum laude: one from McMaster University (B.A.Sc.) and the other from the University of Calgary (B.Ed.) He is also Paddle Canada certified as Moving Water Instructor Trainer and has worked many summers as a Canoe Guide for Churchill River Outfitters and Nahanni River Adventures. For over 12 years Tom worked with the local Stoney First National School in Mini-Thni (Formerly Morley, AB) leading and facilitiating outdoor educational opportunities for middle and high school children instructed by ACMG volunteer members. He is the original creator of the Mountain Conditions Report which has been running since 2005. He also created and operates the InformalEx, a guide’s information exchange mailing list for the ACMG since 2001. In 2010 he was awarded the ACMG’s “Distinguished Service Award ” in recognition of his consistent and dedicated contribution to the Association.

Tom has lived in Canmore, AB since the early 1990s where, along with his wife Deborah (a Registered Nurse) he raised his two children, Rohan and Ruth. Rohan is currently at the University of Edmonton and Ruth is in Grade 11 at Canmore Collegiate High School.

In his spare time he enjoys skiing, climbing and whitewater paddling trips in the remotest places in Canada such as northern SK, Yukon, NWT and Manitoba and is an avid amateur photographer. He’s also a fan of the history of Canada’s early exploration — his hero is David Thompson who with his wife Charlotte Small — and their children, 5 of them born along the way — mapped over 3.9 million square kilometers of North America from 1797 to 1812. During this time he walked and paddled over 80,000 km.

All of Sawback’s guides are certified by Association of Canadian Mountain Guides or the international equivalents. Most of our guides are fully certified in their discipline (e.g. Ski or Alpine) and many are internationally certified Mountain Guides. Sawback is also active in supporting the training of Apprentice Guides and on a few select trips an Apprentice supplements a full guide. For more information, please see our Guides and Partners Page for some photos and brief bios.

How can I book a trip?

For existing trips, simply use our Book Now link to fire off a quick booking request. We will follow up quickly with you to confirm the booking with you.

In addition to ski tours, our internationally certified mountain guides (IFMGA/UIAGM) also offer custom summer and winter climbing trips on rock, alpine and ice. If you are looking for a custom trip – e.g. a day of ski touring or ice climbing or a multi-day trip that we don’t offer – email or phone us or use our contact form. We will offer suggestions and personally help you organize the best trip possible.

Tom Ruth Norway
Tom with his daughter Ruth in Norway, April 2023

Member Associations

Sawback’s guides are members of the following associations:

Canadian Avalanche Association - Professional Member

Canadian Avalanche Association members are dedicated to upholding the highest standards of avalanche safety, and are committed to life-long learning and pursuit of excellence in their fields.

International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations

The International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA/UIAGM), founded in 1965, is the international umbrella for mountain guide associations from more than 20 countries in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania, representing a total of almost 6,000 guides.

Avalanche Canada Avalanche Skills Training Provider

Avalanche Canada aims to minimize public risk in avalanche terrain by providing leadership, development, communication, coordination and delivery of public avalanche safety education, warnings, products, and services.

Association of Canadian Mountain Guides

The Association of Canadian Mountain Guides has been the voice for all aspects of mountain guiding and instruction in Canada for over half a century and the first guides outside of Europe to be recognized by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations.