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Our Story


Katjarina "Katja" Hurt is an outdoorsy nerdette with a penchant for volunteering and trying to make the world a better place. In 2018, Katja left her career as a curriculum specialist and instructor-trainer with the Department of Corrections to launch Wilderness Chaplains, a nonprofit providing crisis intervention, education, and support to wilderness first responders. Katja has been an active member of the National Ski Patrol for over a decade and is a volunteer instructor with her local Mountaineers' branch. 
Katja is proud to be a born-and-raised resident of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She lives in Olympia, Washington, with her two adventure dogs.


Wilderness Chaplains began with the loss of our beloved friend, Stephen Kornbluth. Stephen died in a climbing accident on Dewey Peak in Mount Rainier National Park on August 14, 2018.


Stephen's climbing partner and "mountain wife," Katja, was one of the first to receive the news. In the midst of grief, Katja drew on a decade of experience as a chaplain, ski patroller, and mountaineer. She responded as a chaplain and cared for her beloved climbing community.


As the dust settled, people asked: "how did you do it all?" Friends began asking for tips and resources to use in a tragedy. Soon members of local wilderness rescue groups began requesting Katja's "mountain chaplain" services. It became obvious that wilderness crisis response resources were few and far between. 


Inspired by Stephen's memory, Katja resigned from her position in state government. With a handful of notes and unstoppable enthusiasm, she went to work. In the wake of tragedy, Wilderness Chaplains emerged.

Wilderness Chaplains was established by and for first responders. Our focus is compassionate critical incident response in the wilderness and remote environments. Our services are available to everyone, regardless of religion, faith, or spiritual preferences.


Wilderness Chaplains has set a goal to help all first responders provide compassionate ministry in remote environments. Our aim is to ensure that the outdoor community has access to CISM training and chaplains are readily available to wilderness rescue organizations. We envision meeting these goals by operating a Wilderness Chaplains Academy, educating the public in compassionate crisis response, and supporting our wilderness first responders in all areas.



Learn more at Wilderness Chaplains

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