Guiding Picked Me: Dave Heinbach

One of many glorious sunrises.

Photos & text by, Dave Heinbach, Apprentice Rock Guide and Marmot Scholarship Recipient

I didn’t pick guiding; it picked me. A little kid walking the ridgeline of snow created by the plow truck, imagining a great peak. A desire lying dormant, while society says do this, be that, only to re-ignite when hands touch stone. The Call, is how IFMGA Guide and AMGA Instructor Team member Anna Keeling, described it. We hear The Call, and we must heed, or lose a part of ourselves too precious to trade away. Every guide needs to watch the original Seven Samurai movie, the old black-and-white classic. If you’re a lifer, you’ll get it. Seems like everybody has a place in the world.

Adam Butterfield in the crusty conditions that made up most of the week.

Adam Butterfield in the crusty conditions that made up most of the week.

Why do I guide? The instructors asked the group this question one evening. Tempting to indulge in poetic hyperbole, yet I have none. I guide because I like it. I guide because I’m good at it. I guide because it pays the bills. I work with my brain, with my body, with great people, in a magnificent setting. It matters little whether I’m helping high-powered executives summit a peak, or teaching a young PhD student how to skip rocks during a creekside lunch break. I help people open their eyes.

Jeff scoping a descent from a high vantage point.

Jeff scoping a descent from a high vantage point.

Enter the AMGA. After nearly 20 years of guiding I was in danger of becoming stuck in my ways, a dinosaur. I realized I couldn’t learn a thing if I thought I knew it all, and I signed up for my first rock course in May 2014. I received validation; my previous guiding had been to standard. I learned new techniques that streamlined my practice, making it more efficient, easier. The ski guide course was quite similar. I don’t take these courses because I want to become a mountain guide; I am one. The AMGA helps me become a better one. It works. Client reward is up. Tips are up. Stress is down.

But the courses are expensive. Thanks to Marmot for granting me a scholarship. This year I can take two instead of one. Adding formal training to an extensive experience base is making me a much better guide. Again, thank you.


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