Text by Editorial staff,
Editors note, Jan 5, 2015: Jayson just launched a brand new website for his business Lotus Alpine Adventures. Check it out.
Jayson Simons-Jones started pursuing full American Mountain Guide status in 2002, when he took his first AMGA Course/Exam–Top Rope Site Management. “I got serious about the IFMGA tract in 2007 with my Ski Mountaineering Guides Course, and then very slowly picked my way through the programs, balancing them with running a small guide service and working full time,” he says. In 2013 he decided to put the hammer down and finish before “life got in the way somehow.” He got through the entire alpine program in about 15 months. We recently asked Simons-Jones a few questions about his journey.
AMGA: Why did you pursue full certification with the AMGA?
Jason Simons-Jones: I started down the AMGA Guide training/certification tract as a way to better my professional guiding skills, make myself more marketable as a professional, and as a way to improve my personal skills and my clients’ experiences. Upon taking over the helm at Crested Butte Mountain Guides in 2007, I found it essential to obtain not just training, but also certification in order to be able to train and mentor my staff, and to be a role model to those I worked with. As well I wanted to help bring more professional clout to the guide service and the community we were a part of. After being immersed in the guiding world from all facets (guide service ownership, guiding, outdoor ed, mentoring) it became apparent where the industry trend was going in terms of professionalism and certification, and that achieving American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide status was necessary to continue both my personal and professional growth. I began to feel and see clearly that without it, five to ten years from now making a living as a guide in this country would potentially be too difficult for me.
AMGA: How do you feel about your accomplishment?
JSJ: It feels great, of course. It has been a long, difficult, and challenging road. The process has taught me innumerable lessons. It took real commitment to ‘up’ my technical skills, to stay sharp and improve my movement skills, and to focus hard on a goal for so long. In many ways, having to stay focused for more than seven years has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to accomplish in my life. But, now that I’ve achieved my ‘badge,’ I know none of it will necessarily get any easier. It’s now up to me to continue to work hard to uphold this standard for myself, in the interest of my clients, and, of course, in the interest of the greater worldwide guide community that represents the IFMGA standard in mountain guiding. So, unfortunately I don’t expect it to get any easier, but now I am armed with the confidence of knowing I can perform at, and have been tested at a high standard. That makes it all a bit easier and definitely more enjoyable from here on.
AMGA: What are your goals/plans now?
JSJ: To reap all the fame, women, and money my ‘pin’ will get me and retire at the top of my game. Oh wait… that doesn’t happen???
AMGA: Is there anything I’m not asking that you want to share with me about your experience with the AMGA, with other guides, getting your pin, etc?
JSJ: For those who are on the path and in the midst of the challenges I’d say that despite the stress, difficulty, and potential set backs in the form of money, injuries, or failed exams/courses, ultimately, if one is serious about committing to the profession of being a mountain guide it is all worth it. It may possibly take longer then planned, but along the way it will still undoubtedly make you a better climber, skier, and guide. Ultimately that will reflect in your own skills and confidence, as well as the mountain experiences your friends and clients will have with you along the way. Cherish and embrace the learning process with your peers and mentors because in the scope of a long mountain guiding career, the AMGA training road is but a short time of formal training/learning, and as the illustrious American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide Marc Chauvin likes to say, “once you get your pin, you’re right until you’re dead.”