2017 Millet Women’s Scholarship | Holly Barrass

sentinal_western-saga_hollyandnolanIn March 2017 I had the privilege of attending my Rock Guide Course with the AMGA. Having been through the SPI program I knew this course was the next step to expand my professional and personal climbing. Between injury and working for small non-profits with limited budgets I had not been able to make the program happen in past years. Thus it felt like this course had been a journey before it even started. After recovering from knee surgery I worked hard on getting my pre-requisites completed for the course and I had lots of adventures in the mountains with friends leading up to submitting my application. Thanks to the Millet Women’s Scholarship I was finally able to complete my course this year.

lessons-at-the-base-of-saddleThis course was everything I was expecting and more. I was inspired and challenged the whole time. At some points during the course it felt like I was learning to climb all over again. The major feedback I got from my instructors was to improve my efficiency. Even on easy climbing I had so many systems and new information in my head that climbing efficiently while choosing the most appropriate system was challenging. Being watched and evaluated by my instructors and peers was a demanding process for me. Being on show and critiqued is part of guiding and working through the AMGA programs. It was a huge process for me to learn how to be deal with it and not let it rattle me. I learned that the more prepared and confident in your own abilities the easier the evaluation process is.

I arrived on my course very nervous and that dissipated pretty quickly because of the positive learning environment our instructors provided and having such an awesome group of people to work with for the 10 days. I felt immensely lucky to have such high quality peers in my group. Everyone in the group was prepared and open to learning. We had great camaraderie and I would be proud to call anyone in my group a friend, co-guide and climbing partner. We had endless laughs and inside jokes and even some last night karaoke.

theblob_hollyand-nolanI am currently the Youth Education Director at the Colorado Mountain Club. The Youth Education Program (YEP) of the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) runs outdoor education programs which serves 7000 students a year. Our mission is to ignite a connection to the outdoors for Colorado youth by providing opportunities for active learning through experiential and adventure education. As the leader of our program, the AMGA rock guide course gave me the opportunity to renew the currency of my personal and professional rock climbing skills. It is important to me that our program meets industry standards of climbing instruction and this course gave me the skills necessary to lead my staff in curriculum design, hazard identification, and site management to enhance the risk management of our climbing programs. Working in outdoor education it is less common to see instructors take AMGA courses to and it took me some time to see the alignment for my career. I think that the outdoor industry as a whole can work together to improve cohesiveness and collaboration across sectors.

Thanks to encouragement from our instructors and such an inspiring experience I would like to advance my AMGA track and I am excited to work on the next set of prerequisites. Thank you to Millet for giving me the opportunity for this experience.sentinal_westernsaga_hollyandnolan