About Your Hosts
Billy FitzGerald is a native Bostonian, who migrated to Alaska in the early 1970’s pursuing a long-time dream of adventures in the Alaskan Wilderness.
Ute (Menzel) FitzGerald was born in a small village in southern Germany. A devout patron of traveling, Ute had journeyed to the far corners of Europe, Africa and South America, before arriving in Alaska.
Billy and Ute FitzGerald founded their guide service in 1984. This was the culmination of ten years living and working in the Alaskan wilderness from the Brooks Range to the tip of the Alaska Peninsula and including the entire arc of the Alaska Range.
Mr. FitzGerald worked for outfitters, sport fishing lodges and commercial fishermen. He hunted, trapped and survived seven winters of dog mushing and mountain wilderness travel. It was during a three-week dog mushing adventure on the Ruth Glacier where he met and married a similar spirited soul, his wife and best friend, Ute.
Living the Alaskan dream, they built a beautiful log home in the wilderness and raised their children, Sean and Alexandra, in the same adventurous tradition that carried them to Alaska and intertwined their destinies. Besides thirty five years of wilderness adventures in Alaska, Billy and Ute have traveled and hiked in many different parts of the world, including the Black Forest of Germany, the French and Swiss Alps, the Dolomites of Italy, traversing the Andes of South America and hiking the hills of Ireland and the British Isles. Within the U.S., extended sojourns include the Appalachian Trail in New England, Yosemite National Park, Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park, Poly Poly Park on the island of Maui and several day-long adventures in the Rockies.
The village of Talkeetna has been their home and base of operations since 1977. It is the perfect launching point for all types of backcountry adventures. Every climber destined for the highest peak in North America, Denali, comes through Talkeetna. In a twenty-minute airplane ride from the Village Airstrip you can land in very remote, wild and challenging country. It is paradise for raising a family and owning a wilderness adventure company.
Billy FitzGerald is a licensed commercial pilot with over 4000 hours of flying time in the Denali National Park area including the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains.
Forty years hiking in the Alaskan wilderness has made Billy a valuable resource to agencies considering development in the vicinity of Denali National Park. He is earnestly proactive, serving as a member of several boards created to provide a conduit for communication between land managers and backcountry recreational users. His participation has resulted in many positive changes and actions.
Billy has represented the community of Talkeetna while working together with planning teams from Denali National Park, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and independent contractors.
Other notable achievements include:
Awards for work he has done to reduce human impacts on moose populations.
Flying low-level surveys along the proposed Alaska Natural Gas Line for companies hired to locate live eagle nests and identify critical habitat along the intended route.
Working with biologists, capturing, collaring and monitoring sharp-tailed grouse migration patterns in central Alaska.
Working with the non-profit group Cook Inlet Keepers flying biologists out to remote locations for stream study and water quality evaluation.
Mr. FitzGerald recently served as board President at Sunshine Community Health Center Inc.