This is Sarah Newsome, I am currently a splitboard guide and a AIARE instructor in Lake Tahoe during the winters, and a whitewater guide during the summers. My husband and I also own, run and operate a large blueberry farm in Pennsylvania. The bushes go dormant during the winter, so farming works perfectly with our winter guiding season. I moved around growing up, but learned to snowboard on Mt. baker, Washington, practiced at Sunday River, Maine during high school, and competed on the Snowboard Team at Westminster College in Utah, while studying for my Biology degree. Now, I study soil in the summers and snow in the winters.
I gained most of my backcountry experience during my time in the Wasatch of Utah. We had a group of hard chargers who went out everyday, looking for either the best turns or the safest line. But we learned most of what we know now by trial and error, definitely the hard and long way. As I climb the guiding ladder and take responsibility for my clients going into the backcountry, I am happy I had this rough education in the past that now allows me to make wise and educated decisions today. I also feel this inner need to teach my guests what I know… so they can see both why I am making the decisions I am, and how they might make these decisions themselves. I am also specific to teaching them that there is little room for error. I am very humbled by the human factor in the backcountry, so when I have the ability to teach people in the AIARE classes I instruct, I make it my personal point to teach people how to teach themselves. How to make the decisions on their own, and why… why that decision is appropriate for this terrain, on this specific day, in these unique conditions. I really enjoy the responsibility and the critical thinking that guiding demands from me.
As my career continues, I want to be able to provide my clients with the most effective and appropriate techniques, as well as competency and trust. I decided that becoming an AMGA guide is the best way to be the professional my guests deserve. Prior to the Alpine Skills Course, I heard about and knew other AMGA guides that just seemed “to get it.” They all seemed to have this confidence and demeanor that demands respect. There appears to be a black and white difference between guides that have AMGA training and those who don’t. The thing that attracted me the most, is the simple fact that the other AMGA guides I know seem to be having the most fun, and they are the safest while doing it. If I am going to continue to guide, I want to have the most fun… and I want to be a professional while doing it.
After taking my first AMGA class, I now comprehend the AMGA way. I know that there is a strategic way of making decisions and staying safe. I know that there is a correct way of rigging myself and others into a system that is releasable, reversible and redundant, a system we can both trust. I know that preventing an injury is just as important as preparing for one. I understand that the AMGA expects their certified guides to operate under a standard code, and why. The AMGA sets the standard that separates knowledgeable competent guides from others who might not take is as seriously. Someone who has AMGA training and considers themselves a product of a AMGA education is able to show competency in route finding, decision making, navigation, rescue, preparation, morality and humility. AMGA guides are the best of the best… for good reason… they work the hardest for it!
Our guides/ instructors were Emily Drinkwater and Jeff Ward. They were some of the most inspiring and motivating people I have ever encountered. Their ability, knowledge and experience level was as high as it gets. And their professionalism is unmatched. They both inspired me to be a better person, to learn more about my field, and to motivate others while doing it… with a smile.
I would like to thank The Young Aspiring Guides program for providing me with this scholarship. I think the program does a great thing, helping people to educate themselves as they get started in their careers. Young guides seem to spend any and all money we make on gear and guiding classes, so it is really comforting to get help from a guiding organization itself. Knowing that there are people out there supporting us and cheering us on as we take a new route up the guiding mountain. The most valuable part of this class, scholarship and the whole experience is seeing the beautiful community of guides and resources that is open on the other side. Now that I have been introduced to the community I know where to turn to for guidance, mentorship, and where to go for my future.