The 2012 AMGA Ski Guide Course started off with a bang, and by bang, I mean a healthy Cascadian dose of rain, freezing rain, graupel, and fog. Two half-days of technique clinics on the ski area mixed well with an introduction and information sharing of down guiding considerations and techniques. Unfavorable weather conditions and complex terrain challenged our onsite down guiding abilities. Flexibility and adaptability became the buzzwords as the unsettled weather pattern kept things challenging throughout the course. Classroom sessions covering rescue sled construction, up track considerations, lowering and rappelling techniques, and tour planning were valuable additions to our field sessions which allowed us to practice up and down guiding techniques, aspirant exam drills, and application of the principals and techniques learned in the classroom.
We must have been doing something right as our longer tour days were blessed with more favorable weather. A lack of weather significantly influencing snow stability kept the avalanche hazard at a minimum, but produced a wide variety of snow surface conditions. No big Cascadian dump in twelve days–was this really La Nina? While there was inevitable disappointment in the less than stellar ski conditions, the variability forced us to hone our guiding techniques in challenging environments. In the end, this certainly added to our guiding experience.
The Mountain Hardwear scholarship allowed me to participate in an overwhelmingly positive experience. A defining characteristic of this AMGA course was the emphasis placed on information sharing between participants and instructors; personal experience was validated and considered. This helped to create a positive and emotionally safe educational environment that encouraged individual participation, growth, and exploration. Through interactions with peers and instructors alike, this scholarship helped me contextualize my skill set; I was able to more accurately understand my strengths and liabilities as a ski guide. Throughout the course I was empowered to share my strengths with others while working in other areas to bring my skills into better balance. Thanks to Mountain Hardwear for providing this scholarship so I could further my personal and professional ski mountaineering career through instruction, practice, and application.