Joshua Cole on Receiving the Walker Family Foundation Scholarship

Chris Marshall skis the Matier ice fall

Chris Marshall skis the Matier ice fall

The AMGA is working to increase the professionalism, safety, and standard of guiding in our country. While the AMGA is succeeding in these aims, the culture of American guiding remains distinctly different from that in Europe and Canada. Many American guides still struggle to make guiding a sustainable profession. By donating toward AMGA scholarships, the Walker Family Foundation has not only supported the education of guides, but has also made a public commitment to help bring guiding towards true professional status in the United States. I have recognized a parallel process; while I continue to learn and grow as an individual guide, the industry of guiding in the United States is continuing to do the same. As well, as I achieve individual professionalism, the AMGA also achieves an authentic professional status for the work guides do.

I arrived in Pemberton, British Columbia early for my Advanced Ski Guides Course and Aspirant Exam, and was able to train with other course participants, many of whom I knew through other AMGA programs. The support of the community of guides has been absolutely critical to my success as a guide and going through the AMGA process. Each day we trained, we spent a lot of time sharing ideas, asking critical questions of one another, and tackling guiding challenges cooperatively. During the course, we shared knowledge and helped one another to be successful.

Ian Nichelson skis Equinox on Mount Chief Pascall

Ian Nichelson skis Equinox on Mount Chief Pascall

The AMGA process is distinctly challenging and stressful, and it is undeniably a sacrifice to spend three weeks away for home and gainful employment. With that said, the sacrifice was totally worthwhile. I came away from my Advanced Ski Guide Course a better and more confident guide. I have begun to view the AMGA track as much broader and more holistic than a series of courses and exams. It has required me to seek out mentorship and training before and after courses and to leverage the knowledge and support within the community of guides. In turn I have been compelled to offer that mentorship back to less experienced guides. In the weeks leading up to my course, one of my mentors, an IFMGA guide and AMGA instructor, spent countless hours helping me to prepare. In those same weeks, I also invited a friend to mock guide and train with me. He had just taken his AMGA ski guides course and wanted my help to gain practical experience while that learning was fresh in his mind.

Ian Nichelson skis Equinox on Mount Chief Pascall

Ian Nichelson skis Equinox on Mount Chief Pascall

Guiding is often done as a solitary pursuit, with little opportunity to talk through critical decisions or receive feedback on those decisions. The AMGA process has provided me with just that: incisive feedback in the moment and the ability to consider numerous dimensions of guiding decisions with a diverse group of people. Recent events on Mt. Everest have reminded me, however, that while I spend a lot of my guiding time alone, the community of guides is tightly interwoven. The support of the AMGA and donors such as the Walker Family Foundation are the cornerstone of this community.

I am deeply grateful for the support of my mentors, training partners, AMGA instructors and, of course, the Walker Family Foundation. With your support, I am a more effective guide and I am inspired to further my education with the AMGA.

One Comment on “Joshua Cole on Receiving the Walker Family Foundation Scholarship

  1. Thank you Mr Cole. I particularly appreciated your note on professionalism and sustainability for this industry.

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