By Emily Stifler
photo by Deia Schlosberg
During a two year, 7,800 mile trek
that spanned the length of the Andes
Mountains in South America, Gregg
Treinish and Deia Schlosberg battled
illness, navigated harsh mountainous
terrain, and visited remote and never before
visited villages. For their accomplishment—
becoming the first people
to walk the length of the Andes—they
were named National Geographic Adventurers
of the year in 2008.
During that trip however, Treinish had
“a selfish feeling, of not being able to
accomplish everything I wanted to do
for the world.”
On their next expedition, 2010’s “Connecting
the Gems,” the adventurers
walked 520 miles across the Greater
Yellowstone Ecosystem in Wyoming
and Montana, and through the Frank
Church River of No Return Wilderness
in central Idaho.
The goal was to connect “two of the
most intact and important ecosystems
in the world’s temperate zone, … essentially
ecological islands of protected
habitats.” Traveling on foot, they collected
data and worked to understand
“the conditions and threats to key
habitats, presence of various species,
current management practices, and
perspectives of local people between
these two ecosystems.”
In the year before and after Connecting
the Gems, Treinish, who has a biology
degree from MSU in Bozeman, interviewed
experts on Northern Rockies
biology and came to understand that
“when populations of animals exist in
isolation, they are left without the ability
to maintain genetic diversity.”
That inspired Treinish to begin a new
project, Adventurers and Scientists for
Conservation (ASC). The Bozeman based
non-profit is “dedicated to pairing
scientists and adventure athletes so
they may conduct meaningful expeditions
that contribute to the greater
scientific knowledge and ultimately to
the preservation of natural places.”
At the end of March, the first two ASC
expeditions launched, one to climb
Everest and collect plant samples, and
one to walk to length of the Himalaya
and gather data on high altitude bird
species. Both of these expeditions
bring together world-class adventurers
with university scientists already
conducting in-depth research. Each
year, ASC plans to help fund several
scientific expeditions. In addition, the
organization aims to connect students,
mentors and science advisors, and
offering expedition planning and
Also this spring, Treinish plans to
attend the Pacific Crest Trail startup
party in southern California, looking
to recruit long-distance hikers to
collect soil samples along the length of
the Pacific Crest. That project, he says,
still needs scientists. Closer to home,
in Montana, he’s looking at training
citizen scientists to conduct whitebark
pine and grizzly bear surveys.
ASC’s Board of Directors is stacked
with serious adventurers and big
thinkers. The group includes Bozeman-
based professional mountaineer
and author Conrad Anker; oceans
expert and journalist Jon Bowermaster;
ocean rower and environmental
campaigner Roz Savage; explorer,
filmmaker and conservationist Trip
Jennings; champion distance runner
and MSU ecology Professor Scott
Creel; Lance Craighead of the Craighead
Institute, a Bozeman-based environmental
non-profit; and Captain
Joel Fogel, conservationist, adventurer
and Chairman of the Philadelphia
chapter of the Explorers Club.
Treinish, who has long pursued both
science and adventure, says, “This
organization will not only allow me
to combine both of my passions,
but will make a clear and tangible
difference in the world. When I
did expeditions there was always a
feeling of wanting to do more and not
having the tools to do that. That was
why I got a biology degree, knowing
all along I wanted to do biological
Now, with ASC, he sees an opportunity
to create “an army of data collectors
and an army of citizen scientists.”