Through out each year I seek balance in the vertical world. The balance is between three activities, personal climbing, private guiding, and instructional courses.
My work with the AMGA falls into the instructional course category. This course work is two fold, first it is a passion of mine to help other guides raise the bar. I really enjoy seeing young climbers/guides develop into solid movers on the terrain and become expert technicians with skills and techniques they apply during their guiding days. Secondly these instructional course days keep me sharp and are a major part of my continued growth and development as a guide as well.
A huge benefit for me is being a member of the AMGA Instructor Team and working together with highly trained guides from different areas of the country. AMGA instructor Joey Thompson of Colorado Mountain School is teaching a clinic on ice protection on the NH Ice Instructor Course.
Eric Whewell head guide at Colorado Mountain School and an AMGA IT member joined up with the NH team. Eric is starting a clinic on ice anchors at the trestle area of Frankenstein Cliff. Eric presented a demonstration with instructions then the student followed by building a variety on ice anchors for discussion and critiques.
Silas Rossi of Alpine Logic Guide Service is demonstrating sound and efficient ice climbing skills. Silas is a strong and gifted alpinist and ice climber who is motivated and well suited to train up younger guides. Movement is a core skill in the mountains, on the ice and rock. All guides must certainly have solid climbing skills ones that inspire confidence and build trust from the guests.
Getting started for a team ascent of Willeys Slide. A grade 2 multi pitch ice climb requiring a different set of skills. Skills for the alpine guide are utilized to ascend this classic NH climb.
Chia a suitable ice route for setting up the split rope system. The guide climbs with two ropes set gear in one belayed rope draping the other ropes with a few directional screws. If set up correctly two climber move up at the same time minimizing the wait and climbing together with out any ice fall hazard.
Doug Ferguson of Mountain Skills Guide Service owner on the first AMGA Ice Instructor Certification exam. This new exam is five days in length where students showcase their ice guiding skills on multi pitch ice climbs.
The ice climb Great Madness is pictured above. Tim Farr of Petra Cliff Climbing School guided this test piece during the AMGA Ice Instructor Exam. Application is a skill a guide must have on board, pulling out the right technique at the right time. Tim recognized this and applied a one rope system to mitigate the risk for himself and the guest. Great work Tim!!!
This attachment is used for a stability anchor any where you have a solid tree or post. The tree hitch is quick and very easy to undo.
In all of our training programs simple solutions are sought for guiding problems. Here is a simple anchor utilizing a v thread then adding a screw to create some additional strength. Less gear is required and again its a fast solution to anchoring the team.
Managing the stress is one very real problem for students. Demonstrating skills under watchful eyes can be difficult. On our first day the instructors can set the course tone. The first day starts with instruction then we get to the ice movement. An afternoon session out with the team leading or top roping steep ice climbs in a relaxed setting to ease the overall stress of the course.
This photo is of a student Evan taking on a challenging lead. This grade 5 ice pitch is on a Canadian Classic called Carlesburg. Evan guided two of us up this pitch in fine spit rope style. The pitch has excellent movement on steep ice.
On our final day in Canada we opted for a big alpine ice objective. Murchison Fall is a climb ranging in difficulty from grade 4 to 5. Set in a remote mountain cirque one is away from the crowds of the busier roadside crags. A fantastic final route for the program.
I feel so fortunate to have spent the past 18 years working for the American Mountain Guides. This past work has opened up countless friendships, create exciting work opportunities, challenged my abilities. Above all the ice environment is a place that I truly enjoyed and feel at home. A huge Thank You goes out to my wife Terry and all the students for keeping me on track with continue enthusiasm and psych to continue along in the cold ice and mountain enviromnment.