Mike Muscato

-Born in Albuquerque, NM.
-Grew up in the Manzano mountains east of Albuquerque.
-First backpacking trip at 5 years old, 6 miles in the Bandelier monument.
As a teenager and young adult I spent most of my free time backpacking and scrambling in and around the central NM mountains with my best friend, Chris. We graduated high school in 1997 and for our senior trip Chris and I completed a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon. The training for, and success of this trip solidified my passion for long-distance and high impact backpacking.

I met my future wife and moved out of the mountains when I was 19 (leaving the mountains was a big mistake.) I got married at 21 and my first son, Christoper, was born when I was 23. I took him camping and hiking in Redwoods National Park when he was 9 months old; we had a miserable time due to lack of planning and high demand from 'the baby.' Future financial and time constraints from the marriage and Christopher kept me out of the mountains for the next several years.

I got divorced at 25 further impacting my financial situation. Needless to say I didn't get out into the mountains at all for the next couple of years. In 2007, due to declining physical health and general unhappiness, I decided to start hiking again. I started by taking some small day-hikes with my son and girlfriend, Zarina, in the foothills of the nearby Sandia mountains.
In May of that year, traveling to a business conference, while peering out the window of a 737 at Death Valley, I remembered a goal I had set several years earlier and never attempted: To climb Mt. Whitney in southern California. Immediately upon arriving in San Diego I got online and learned that there were still two permits available for mid-September. I reserved them as soon as the permit office opened the next morning and began planning my training. Zarina and I trained all summer, each losing about 20 pounds, and successfully summited Mt. Whitney on September 13th, 2007.
All the training for high altitude has gotten me really hooked on 'big mountains.' I completed a winter mountaineering course in winter 2008 and I'm booked to attempt Aconcagua, the 2nd highest of the 7-summits, in January 2009.