2019 Arc’teryx Alpine Mentorship Camp Report from Viren Perumal

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About AMGA Mentorship Camps

AMGA Mentorship Camps are low-ratio training opportunities for members going through the mountain guide programs. Mentorship Camps are unique in that they offer additional training and low-ratio coaching outside of the traditional AMGA mountain guide programs and assist with participant travel costs. In 2019 we are thrilled to be able to offer three mentorship camps thanks to our generous sponsors. Check out our mentorship camp page for more info.

Arcteryx 2019 Alpine Camp Recap

Our most recent camp took place in July in the North Cascades. Thanks to Arc’teryx, Assistant Alpine Guides, Viren Perumal and Yoshiko Miyazaki-Back are both prepping for their Alpine Guide Exam and joined AMGA Instructor Team Member Jeff Ward (American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide) for 3 days of hands-on skills training. The camp also provided an opportunity to openly discuss concerns, challenges, opportunities, and aspirations for moving forward in their AMGA programs and guiding careers.

 

Here are some words of wisdom and a report from mentee Viren Perumal 

What does “mentorship” mean to you? Has this definition changed as a result of attending the camp?

Mentorship for the profession of mountain guiding to me has always included elements beyond the technical aspects of our craft.  I have always thought of mentorship to include the sharing of strategies and tactics from someone in the industry with more years of guiding and a broader expertise and experience base to share about creating a balanced life in guiding.  This definition of mentorship that I came into the camp with was held solid. Jeff Ward not only shared many alpine guiding tools and gave us feedback and coaching on our technical decision making, but he also shared a lot about his journey as a lifelong guide.  It was awesome that Jeff has also been a father and full time guide and many of the conversations revolved around work life balance and even finances and budgeting as well how to prioritize family time as a full-time working guide.  As a new father, I felt that this aspect of the mentorship camp was extremely valuable. 

In what ways do you feel mentorship is significant to the craft of mountain guiding?

I strongly believe that our craft is extremely nuanced and it is unrealistic for an individual to become the best guide with only formal training and work experience.  Mentors in this industry are a valuable resource to get more coaching beyond the formal training that is available on course days and exam feedback. Mentors can look into individual life circumstances and provide more ongoing coaching.

How did the 2019 Arc’teryx & AMGA Alpine Discipline Mentorship Camp help you grow as a professional?

One of the biggest facets of this program that was a huge area of growth for me was to gain more coaching and discussing strategies for guiding on complex glaciers and snow.  In my days working as an alpine guide in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in CA, I get very minimal work experience on glaciated terrain and dealing with complex snow to rock and glacier and moat transitions as well as funky dirt climbing.  Additionally as I often guide in the alpine at a 1:1 ratio, I often don’t get much feedback or coaching on 2:1 guiding strategies in exposed but easier terrain.

What was the biggest learning you had on the Mentorship Camp?

One of the best things about this camp was that it was in a venue that I had never been to.  I have been guiding for many years in the Sierra and have become very familiar with the rock type and layout of the land here.  Being able to push my terrain assessment to unfamiliar terrain and unfamiliar rock types with unique challenges was the most challenging and biggest area of learning for me.  In addition during my trip up to the cascades I found myself in the first true whiteout that I had been in several years and allowed me to re-calibrate my needs for navigational backups.

What was the most fun you had while on the Mentorship Camp?

Spending time with Jeff and Yoshiko and laughing and learning was the best part.  Jeff making some of his explanations fun like the “Zoolander” escape and not taking things too seriously made this camp amazing.  Just the culture of relaxed fun and learning created an ideal learning environment

What is your next step on your path to becoming an AMGA Certified Alpine Guide?

I am looking to try and squeeze in some personal climbing on snow and glaciers prior to taking the AGE next summer.  I have a full guiding schedule in the Sierra in diverse alpine terrain and am guiding the Palisade traverse 2:1 next week.  I am hoping to head up to Washington next summer for a few weeks prior to the AGE to climb and train and to gain some more area familiarity and practice with some of the other exam candidates.

What advice do you have for future mentorship camp attendees?

Come with an open mind to learn, be ready for big days, and make some plans to budget climbing time before or after your camp if possible.

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