Team Members

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Our Founders

YExplore was established by John P. DeGrazio in January 2006 after arriving in the Sierra Foothills with his family and a plan to develop a sustainable eco-tourism business in Yosemite National Park. Catherine DeGrazio is the co-owner and Director of Operations and Client Relations.  Both have dedicated their lives to molding a mission driven tour company that offers the highest level of customer service and ensure this is possible through continuous involvement in its daily operations.

“Our journeys throughout the years have led us from East Coast to California; from the Na Pali Coast of Hawaii to the Alaska Range. We hiked Zion & the Grand Canyon, explored the Rockies, trekked the Appalachians, and ascended Half Dome together. John has reached the summit of Mts. Shasta, St. Helens, and Rainier in the Cascades, as well as Whitney and Lyell here in the Sierra. We are proud to lead a company that brings outdoor experiences to adventure travelers who wish to enjoy the countless wonders of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada Range.”

YExplore Guides

Yosemite Wilderness Guides, Naturalists, Professional Photographers, International Guides

John P. DeGrazio | Founder and Yosemite Naturalist Wilderness Guide

Lead Adventure Hiking Guide & Naturalist Yosemite Centennial Ambassador YExplore Founder Our greatest discoveries are made in nature where we  find a peace that brings balance to our lives with every day, hour, and moment spent outdoors. 

Jorge Garzon |International Guide | Machu Picchu

Jorge Garzon was born and raised in the mountains of Cali, Colombia where he had a spark and love for the outdoors since a very young age. He has pursued that passion by exploring different parts of the world on personal and professional climbing trips for more than a decade.

Gena Wood | Yosemite Adventure Guide

Lead Naturalist Hiking Guide  Yosemite Adventure Hikes Gena Wood | Yosemite Adventure Guide Born in Southern California but raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Gena was quick to return west at the age of 18. 

Dan Webster | Yosemite Naturalist

Lead Naturalist Hiking Guide  Yosemite Nature Tours Yosemite Adventure Hikes Dan’s first trip to Yosemite was in the spring of ‘84. First hike up Half Dome, icy dips in the Merced River, climbing black oaks – That was it! – the Sierra was Dan’s new playground. 

Glen Young | Yosemite Naturalist & International Guide

Glen Young, our lead international guide for Everest Base Camp, is a native of Southwestern Michigan who has been working in the outdoor industry for 17 years. Glen began as an environmental educator in the Midwest before moving to Alaska and later New Zealand where he attended graduate school.

Mark Petersen | Yosemite Geologist Wilderness Guide

Naturalist Hiking Guide  Yosemite Adventure Hikes Yosemite Nature Tours A year or so before the Beatles release of “Rubber Soul,” Mark first experienced the magic of the Yosemite backcountry. In the many years and miles since, he remains convinced that few of Earth’s wonders can compare to Yosemite National Park. 

James McGrew | Yosemite Art Instructor, Naturalist

Lead Art Instructor | Lead Naturalist | Professional Photography Guide Yosemite Plein Air Art Workshops James McGrew first backpacked in Yosemite at 4 months old and recalls childhood memories of frequent trips to Yosemite to paint and photograph. 

Olotumi Laizer | International Guide | Lead Local Guide Tanzania

Mt. Kilimanjaro Guide Olotumi Laizer is a Masaai Warrior from northern Tanzania.  He grew up in a small village in Ngorongoro Conservation Area.  He went to college in Tanzania where he studied Animal Health and Wildlife Management.  Laizer is an experienced leader who has guided many groups to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and different national parks in Tanzania and Kenya.

Karma Geljen Sherpa | International Guide

Karma Geljen Sherpa was born in Sibuje Village in the eastern Everest Region of Nepal (called Solukhumbu) where he grew up working on a family farm. As a teenager, he began began working with expeditions as a porter at the age of 15 and then as a trekking guide. 

Robb Hirsch | Yosemite Professional Photographer

Trained academically as a biologist and natural historian, Robb Hirsch developed an intimate relationship with the natural world. 

Al Golub | Yosemite Professional Photographer

He has photographed all aspects of Yosemite, from the accessible valley, to the more distant Nevada Fall, May Lake, Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, and through the wilderness areas only reachable by days of hiking.

Jesse Summers | Yosemite Professional Photographer

Jesse Summers is a Florida based landscape photographer who specializes the newly developing niche of night landscape astrophotography

Joshua Cripps | Yosemite Professional Photographer

Currently residing in Santa Cruz, Josh spends much of his time photographing the city’s gorgeous coastline. Each summer he returns to his spiritual home in the High Sierra to camp, backpack, and photograph the spectacular views which the Range of Light has to offer.

Jay Sousa | Yosemite Professional Photographer

Professional Photography Guide | Adventure Hiking Guide Yosemite Photography Classes and Workshops Photo Hikes and Backpacks Yosemite Guided Hiking Tours and Backpack Trips Jay Sousa has been a fulltime professional photographer for thirty-five years and a Professor of photography at Merced Community College for the past seven years.

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