Eric Layton, Recipient of the 2015 F.O.R.G.E Scholarship

I’m so honored to be the recipient of the 2015 AMGA/F.O.R.G.E. Splitboard Guide Scholarship on behalf of Rick Gaukel. My deepest thanks to the AMGA and to the Gaukel family for making my Splitboard Guide Exam a possibility!

Eric Layton demonstrating a technical downhill guide on the Northeast Glacier of Cayoosh, British Columbia. Photo: Dylan Taylor

Over the past ten years, I have been working toward becoming a fully certified splitboard guide, allowing me to pursue my snowboarding career to the fullest. This has not always been the easy route to take, and as a snowboarder, there have been many hurdles to overcome. Adapting my equipment and guiding style to fit the standards of the AMGA has not only been challenging, but rewarding in its own right.

In 2006, I found the AMGA and took my first ski guide course on my splitboard; in fact, it was the very first ski guide course on which all the candidates were on splitboards. The knowledge and skill set that I learned taught me things I’d never known were possible on a snowboard, therefore paving a way to a wonderful and adventure-filled life as a splitboard guide.

In 2007, I started guiding professionally. It was then that I began to learn more about the mountains and the technical aspects of guiding. Always eager to expand my knowledge and skill set in the mountains, I set my sights on one day becoming a certified snowboard guide.

Eric Layton demonstrating crevasse rescue. Photo: Dylan Taylor

Rick Gaukel’s determination, passion, commitment, and pure love for the sport of snowboarding have now helped splitboarders achieve their dreams of becoming AMGA-certified splitboard guides. There are many splitboarders who have contributed to the industry and who have helped pave a way for certified splitboard guides throughout the world. Rick is not only an inspiration to me, but to all guides around the world. His legacy will live on forever.

The AMGA has provided an incredible learning environment and has given me the chance to mentor under the best guides in the world. During my past courses, I have had the opportunity to meet other aspiring guides and instructors, all of whom have contributed their own knowledge and experiences, which have helped create my guiding style.

Eric Layton on top of Hibachi Ridge. Photo: Eric Layton Collection

The eight-day Ski Guide Exam held in Pemberton, British Columbia, this year was full-value and committing. This exam has served as a confidence-builder and opportunity to show my skills not only as a guide, but also as a splitboarder. I’d like to once again thank the American Mountain Guides Association, Rick Gaukel and family, and all of my employers who took a chance on a snowboarder from California—thank you all for your support, mentorship, understanding, and love. And to all those who we have lost in the mountains, and to those of you with whom I have shared a skin track, epic days, long slogs, smiles, early mornings, and face shots—we did it!



Nate Smith assisting Steve Charest off the summit of Mt Matier, British Columbia. Photo: Eric Layton


Eric Layton shortroping examiner Dylan Taylor to the summit of Mt Matier via its Northwest Ridge. Photo: Eric Layton

Nate Smith on the summit Ridge of Mt. Matier, British Columbia. Photo: Dylan Taylor