Born and raised in rural Oregon near the town of Corvallis, Kelly developed an early affection for the outdoors, spending countless hours exploring the woods near his house. A college soccer career took him to St. Paul, Minnesota, after which he moved to Salt Lake City in the summer of 1999. Kelly began splitboard guiding and teaching avalanche classes for Utah Mountain Adventures during the 2005–2006 season, and he has been teaching for the National Outdoor Leadership School since 2007. In 2010, Kelly completed a level-three avalanche certification with the American Avalanche Institute, and he also finished an MS in outdoor education at the University of Utah in 2011. In addition, Kelly owns and operates the Splitboard Education Collective, where he is able to apply his passion for teaching about splitboards. Kelly has been leading trips and teaching classes with Westminster College since 2010. Despite all the time in the mountains, however, the true pleasures in his life are his wife, Kathleen, and son, Zander.