About the AAI Shop & Staff

Located in Bellingham, Washington, The Equipment Shop at the American Alpine Institute has been fulfilling the specialty gear needs of climbers, skiers, and hikers locally and around the world for more than 25 years. At The Equipment Shop we are dedicated to carrying only the best outdoor clothing and equipment for all types of backcountry activities. Many of the products carried by the Equipment Shop go through extensive field-testing by AAI guides, and only items that meet our expectations are carried in our shop and recommended to clients who are participating in our courses. With this process you can be assured that you are getting the best recommendations for the highest quality, top-of-the-line gear for your next big outdoor adventure.


Equipment Shop Staff 

Richard Riquelme: Equipment Services Manager and Guide

Richard Riqueleme

Richard has been guiding and working in the AAI Shop since 2005. His primary job is to ensure that all the equipment needs of the AAI climbing programs and guide services activities are met in 6 states and 16 countries. He also enjoys advising climbers on their selection of personal equipment for domestic and foreign programs. Richard's climbing and skiing has taken him throughout Chile, Peru, and Argentina as well as to the US, Canada, and Europe. He has extensive experience in search and rescue operations. He has been guiding professionally since 1993 and for AAI since 2006. He is proficient in German and a native speaker of Spanish. AIARE Level 1 & 2 Avalanche Lead Instructor, AMGA SPI Certified, and Leave No Trace Master Educator. His academic training is in metallurgical engineering. 


Tom Anastasio: Senior Equipment Specialist and Van Fleet Manager

Tom has been with AAI since 2012, selling gear and outfitting clients for climbs. His previous 8 year stint with a large national outfitter gave him a wealth of gear knowledge that he uses to help outfit clients for courses. An avid hiker and outdoorsman, Tom is relatively new to mountaineering. He has summited Mount Baker with AAI five times out of seven attempts. Outside of AAI Tom is a professional bassist, performing and recording in many musical styles.


 Mike Madsen: Equipment Shop Manager

Mike has been with AAI since 2022. He grew up on the flat plains of South Dakota, spending his summers in the Black Hills he grew to have a love for the outdoors. He found climbing in high school and went full force and immersed himself in everything he could. After attending Black Hills State University for mass communications Mike decided to travel and climb for a few years around the Rocky Mountain states. In 2011 he spent 50 days with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in the Indian Himalayas learning mountaineering and leadership skills. Mike has had the opportunity to climb in the Alps, Himalayas, Mexico Volcanoes, Greece, Virgin Islands and Korea. He is a life long learner of the outdoors always wanting to learn more. He has written multiple guidebooks for local areas around the Black Hills and Wyoming. He has developed numerous routes in the Midwest. He values stewardship being part of Trout Unlimited, The American Alpine Club, Black Hills Climbing Coalition and Access Fund. Mike always says, “I was raised in the farmlands of South Dakota and Braised in the rain of the beautiful Cascade Mountains.” When not climbing or enjoying walks in the backcountry Mike enjoys traveling, spending time with family, Mountaineering history books, coffee, food and fishing.

Sofie Gard: Assistant Shop Manager

 Sofie has been with AAI since 2022, outfitting climbers with gear for all kinds of excursions. She grew up near Seattle, calling the Central   Cascades home for nearly 20 years. Sofie now attends. Western Washington University and is studying Kinesiology as well as running for their   cross country and track teams. When she’s not in the shop, Sofie can be found out in the backcountry on a ski tour or attached to a rope.


Colin Jackson: Shop Assistant 

Colin has been with AAI since 2021, helping keep the shop clean and organized for our customers. Colin has a passion for the coolest hats and badges he can find, sporting a cool new look each time he is in. He also has a service dog (Lando) who can be found hiding under the table of our kitchen at most times.