Exit Glacier Guides & Liquid Adventures

Q&A With Brendan Ryan & Ryan Fisher

It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play.

Co-owners Ryan Fisher and Brendan Ryan have been shaping the Kenai Peninsula’s adventure travel industry since 2004, when their company, Exit Glacier Guides, pioneered ice climbing tours in Seward. In 2013, they took over the helm at Liquid Adventures and have been growing Seward’s Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) scene ever since. These friends and business partners continue to push the boundaries of guided tourism by creating safe, exciting, and novel adventures for visitors to Seward and the Kenai Fjords National Park. Specific experiences include paddling around towering icebergs in Bear Glacier Lagoon, kayaking expeditions in remote Northwest Fjords, heli-accessible alpine hikes, and exploring deep crevasses on Exit Glacier. Exit Glacier Guides also provides convenient and economical transportation to Exit Glacier with a shuttle that leaves every hour from downtown Seward.

We recently sat down with Brendan to learn more about the journey he and Ryan have taken as small business owners in Seward. 

Co-owners Ryan Fisher (left) and Brendan Ryan (right) relax after a successful summer of guiding. Photo courtesy of Exit Glacier Guides.

What makes your business special or unique? In other words, what are you known for?

Our goal is to provide unique, ground-breaking new tours with the best-trained guides in the area. We have a very extensive training program in place for both companies, and for Liquid Adventures we only hire guides with extensive prior guiding experience. We believe this provides our clients with an exemplary and safe guided experience.

Tell us about a product or service that you’re particularly proud of.

We’re proud to be offering a new kayaking trip this year, the Aialik/Northwestern Explorer, that explores the fjords using a custom-built, brand new catamaran as a ride out. This vessel is not shared with any other companies, which means that our captain and guides can choose whether to paddle with our clients in Northwestern Fjords or Aialik Bay for the day, depending on factors like the weather, wildlife activity, and crowds.
 
We’re very excited to offer a trip that allows us the flexibility to provide our clients with the best paddling experience we can, specific to the day. Kenai Fjords is a very dynamic environment and we wanted to create an experience that can flex with the day’s conditions. Best of all, we’ve worked out a way to offer this trip at the same price as most other kayaking day trips to the fjords while offering a more private and exclusive experience.
 
How long have you lived in Seward? What first brought you here?

I’ve been in Seward for a little over 16 years. I originally planned to stay for a couple weeks while visiting a friend, but that quickly changed to permanent residency.

Kayakers glide across aquamarine waters of Northwestern Fjords. Photo courtesy of Liquid Adventures.

What do you like most about living and working in Seward?

The two things I love most are the access to the outdoors and the tight-knit community. It’s nice to run into people I know everywhere I go, and I always know I can rely on people in the community to help out when needed. Seward and the surrounding areas are an adventurer’s haven for back-country skiing, ice-skating, camping and climbing expeditions. A lot of our “just-for-fun” exploration becomes a jumping-off-point for developing new and exciting trips for our guests.

What would people be surprised to learn about your business or your journey as a business owner?

Ryan and I spent our second spring surviving off of ramen and hot dogs for about two months while we scrimped to re-open for the upcoming season. Things were pretty lean back then, but we wanted to put all of our income back into the business itself. We learned that there are a lot of ways to make ramen!

Hanging glaciers dwarf kayakers in Northwestern Fjord. Photo Courtesy of Liquid Adventures

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

“This trip was life-changing.”

How do you spend your free time?

Snowboarding Mt. Alice and Tiehacker among other mountains around Seward is a favorite pastime. Running trails with my fiancée keeps me on my toes—she runs the Mount Marathon Race every year!

What advice would you give to a new business owner who is working to build a business like yours?

Scrimp and save. The first years will be hard, but don’t give up. The feeling of creating something from scratch is incredibly rewarding.

Feature Image: The crystal blue walls of Exit Glacier’s crevasses inspire novice and experienced climbers alike. Photo courtesy of Exit Glacier Guides.

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For more information, call Liquid Adventures at 907.224.9225 or Exit Glacier Guides at 907.224.5569.

Want more information about Seward or our Chamber of Commerce? Call 907.224.8051.