Knight and Leonie guided several groups up Mt Washington, NH for winter summit bids from 2012 to 2017. Each time the mountain threw subzero temperatures, freezing pea soup fog and 100mph winds at them. Once out of the treeline, they corralled clients from one cairn (a giant pile of stones marking the safe path) to the next. As Knight leaned into the question of a name for an outdoor adventure based leadership development firm, he went once more to Mt Washington with a fellow guide for an ice climbing trip. When they gained the top of Huntington Ravine, he saw the above view. The name cairn became immediately irresistible. Cairns originated in ancient Scotland, where 30 foot bee hive shaped cairns mark the way for travelers. Today, cairns can be found marking worn out trails, obscure paths to climbing objectives and routes in typically hard to see weather such as Mt Washington! When in doubt, look for a cairn someone might have left to help others who follow. When you know the way, leave a trail for your people to follow!


"Cairn Leadership will put you in situations that will challenge your leadership skills far beyond what your day to day situation ever could. By integrating a physical challenge with the leadership curriculum, you will be forced to apply your knowledge and skills in a very hands on way. Would I do a trip with Cairn Leadership again? No doubt!"  

-Paige, 2LT US Army


Get professional instruction for amazing outdoor activities!

Get professional instruction for amazing outdoor activities!


“Thanks for running such an enjoyable, funny, engaging and fact filled event. I recently read "Deep Survival" by Lawrence Gonzales. It was great to get first hand info from you on your experiences. (I loved the props!).”

-John, Global Tech Lead, San Diego


“I have participated in a variety of coaching activities in the past, but the Cairn Leadership Strategies experience was unlike anything I have ever done.  I found a new strength within myself, while also developing a better sense of direction in moving forward to achieve my personal business goals.  Through the experience, I was able to clear my mind of the day-to-day clutter and cut to the heart of what matters most to me as an entrepreneur.  One thing I learned on my personal ascent was that there are many ways in which to approach a climb, but you have to make a decision on which one to take.  You can take one of many paths forward or you can try to go backwards and find another route.  But if you do nothing, you will be stuck on the crag indefinitely and never achieve your goals.”

-Jack, SD Small Business Owner

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“I had the privilege of working with Knight on our departmental staff retreat at a local botanical garden. Despite the threat of rain and the vagaries of Los Angeles traffic, we were able to fully engage in open, honest, and highly productive conversations about personal and team goals leading into a time of change. I am so appreciative of Knight's expertise, presence, and humor facilitating this event and hope we get to work again soon.” -Yvonne, LA County Museum of Art

Our Partners


Outdoor Women’s Alliance is a volunteer-run nonprofit media and adventure collective that engages, educates, and empowers women worldwide. Through the lens of human-powered adventure, OWA works to inspire confidence and leadership in women of all ages. OWA strives to help women get outside their comfort zones, build new skills, and become empowered in safe and supportive spaces, building community around a collective passion for adventure and the outdoors.


Originally founded by Marine Special Operations Forces in the battlefields of Afghanistan, RuckPack™ is combat nutrition designed to help you stay cool, alert, driven, and physically ready to ramp up when needed.


We partnered with Active Life Company because of their awesome sunscreen, Kovr. The SPF 30 lotion is all natural, doesn’t kill sea life when it washes off swimmers, and WORKS! We love other companies who take environmental stewardship seriously. Click their logo to see more!