On June 27th, 2009 the Exum family and friends raised their glasses at the retirement party of two distinguished guides – Dave Carman and Peter Lev. Peter started guiding for Exum in 1960 and in 1978 he bought a portion of the business from Glenn Exum. With his colleagues Al Read, Rod Newcomb and Dean Moore, Peter helped carried on Glenn’s legacy and make it the company it is today. Dave started guiding for Exum in 1978 and retired after 29 years of guiding. During his tenure, Dave served as the Chief Guide, mentored many young guides, provided adventure and enthusiasm for his clients, and inspired us all with his elegant style in the mountains.
The following article is written by Kimberly Geil, Peter Lev’s niece.
When I was twelve years old, my parents sent me up to the Tetons to visit my uncle Peter. At the time, Peter was a bachelor and definitely not the parental type…although it must have been at least partially his idea to have his niece visit. I remember lying in my pup tent next to his cabin, getting scared at the rustling noises I heard outside, and then realizing that my mom wasn’t there and I was going to get no sympathy from my uncle. Not a good time to get scared! I managed to convince myself that the noises weren’t bears, and get some sleep. A few days later, we hiked up to the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton. We spent the night in the old Quonset “tin can” hut, and then he got up early to take some clients up to the top. I hung out at the saddle with another lady, sitting in the sun and watching the marmots. Then he came back, and we ran down the mountain…after all, he was a mountain guide and my knees were still young. Something about Exum and the Tetons got under my skin then, and when I got old enough I began coming back, finding my niche in the Exum office.
Two summers ago I convinced my mother, Peter’s little sister, to come up and take a climbing class. She was fond of saying that Peter had gotten all of the “adventure genes” in the family, but despite her fears she gave it a try. Her guide for that Level I class was none other than Dave Carman, who encouraged her up the Bathtub Slabs (which she hated) and down the rappels (which she loved).
This summer brought a turning point…my uncle officially retired as an Exum guide and owner, and his good friend and colleague Dave Carman had retired from guiding the year before. To mark the occasion, we hosted an Exum Old Coots’ Retirement Party in their honor, and initiated them as the inaugural members of the Exum Old Coots’ Club. The American Alpine Club Climbers’ Ranch graciously provided the space, and we toasted Peter and Dave with piles of fried chicken, a potluck dinner, and a giant cake. Peter’s daughter Alexandra and Dave’s son Adam, who had grown up together on Guides’ Hill, collected photographs of their fathers and Alex put them together in a slide show that took us all down memory lane.
Folks present at the celebration shared stories and memories of not only Peter and Dave, but of guides that had gone before them and guides who were still carrying on the Exum tradition. There were guides who’d left Exum many years ago, climbing rangers, old friends, and new Exum guides who were just getting introduced to the Exum tradition. Peter and Dave both shared a few words, and as Peter put it, although many things have changed at Exum since he began guiding in the 1960s, one very important thing has remained the same. Regardless of the rules and bureaucracy that our culture currently requires, the mountains don’t care…all who climb in the magnificent Teton range have to live up to their standards.
In that spirit, we salute Dave and Peter for their over 70 years of combined guiding experience at Exum Mountain Guides and wish them well in the next phase of their lives. We’ll miss you!