Riding The Spine

"Of Course He Can, It´s Russ" :


Russell grew up in California alongside the Yost family. His father John Kramer went to high school with John Yost and later became one of his a river guides in the early, exploratory days of SOBEK. Yost and Kramer now live nearly 3,000 miles from where they grew up but only four miles apart. His mother Renee, then a nurse, was traveling the U.S. when she met John in California. She was trying to get on a free river trip and offered to bail water out of the boats. John, who was leading the trip, obliged. She only had a pair of shorts and a sleeping bag and wondered what else to bring, John said that is all he brings, and the rest was history.

As a kid Little Russell lived in Calavaras and took part in as many of the adventures that the terrain had to offer. Family rafting trips were common as well as caving, hiking, riding bikes, swimming, tree climbing, knee scraping, blackberry crawling and just about anything else you can think of. Of course he was also a part in some of the adventures of the Mighty Goat Patrol, including hiking to Havasue Falls. He grew up with JJ Yost (Goat´s younger brother) as a brother and recalls going out a few times without J and people would constantly be asking where J was. He recalls once going out with J as little tykes and an inflatable vinyl kayak with intentions to ¨run¨ the flooding coyote creek, blackberry brambles, barbed wire and water falls in all. They were shut down by a ¨wicked¨ old lady at the put in. This exemplifies the adventurous spirit of Russ. Enthusiastically for adventure though somewhat oblivious to some of the hazards involved. Russ likes to say, and its true, ¨the harshest experiences make for the best stories.¨ Needless to say the Kramers and Yosts have had a long and colorful history.

Russell met Nate (see other guest rider) in grade school and along with the rest of the Clavarians attended Bret Harte High School. There they learned of the sickness ¨snow fever¨ and would routinely become sick after a storm. In the process they became excellent snow mountain men, ¨bombing¨ down harrowing terrain at exorbitant speeds on either snowboard or ski. This is also when he and the Yost boys took up rock climbing, soon scaring their brains out trying to reach the top of the basalt crags of Table Mountain. Russ has continued this endeavor to become a proficient multi-pitch climber; summiting routes on Mount Wilson (Dogma Levitation 29, Red Rocks) and El Cap (East Buttress, Yosemite). Along the way he learned a little Math and Science as well.

After High School Russell went to Humboldt State University. There he explored the mountains and rivers of the Six Rivers National Forest by backpack, snowshoes and kayak. He also got to learn how to surf in the hostile waters of the Pacific Northwest. Inspired by Goaty Mon, Jacob and Nate, Russ had intentions of building a tree house to live in as well. He soon found Arcata´s climate much wetter and colder then predicted and ended up opting for less extreme alternative housing, first living in a large tent and then upgrading to a self built Yurt (complete with wood stove) in a friend´s backyard with the added luxury of things like electricity! During the summers he took up what he knew and started river guiding on Central California rivers such as the Merced, Tuolumne and American Rivers to help pay the bills. At Humboldt he obtained a degree in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology. Using his adventure skills to his advantage he wrote a senior thesis examining the possible effects of the ginormous 1964 flood of the Eel River on old growth Coastal Redwoods which took him up some magnificent ancient trees, successfully combining his passion for river ecology with his climbing habit.

Russell now spends his summers river guiding on the Grand Canyon and traveling in between to check out new adventures of all sorts. He has plans to go back to Grad School but first needs to Spine it up and spend time with friends he wasn´t seen in a while.