A New Meaning to Mentorship

men·tor·ship (n.) the guidance provided by a mentor, especially an experienced person in a company or educational institution

AMGA men·tor·ship (n.) all of the above plus some added stoke and cold smoke

The specific skill sets that are needed to become a Mountain Guide can be hard to learn by reading a book or watching a video online. Each specific skill can often be forgotten when not witnessed, experienced, and practiced in person. Knowing when to apply the right skill in any given scenario is even harder. AMGA Mentorship Camps were created and designed to have participants develop their mountain craft in unique and deliberate environments aimed at honing and utilizing skills in real-world guiding situations under the tutelage of an expert.

In April, AMGA members and Mountain Guide Program  participants Jack Klim and Conrad Wharton joined American Mountain Guide/IFMGA guide Jonathan Spitzer for The North Face Ski Discipline Mentorship Camp in the Wasatch backcountry outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. Here is a closer look at a new meaning of mentorship in the mountain guiding community.

photo by Conrad Wharton

“Mentorship is finding someone, or a group of people, that are knowledgeable and passionate about something you are interested in learning more about. It is paramount to be patient and build trust with one another. Mentorship is an opportunity to develop a relationship where people are sharing strengths and feeling comfortable exposing weaknesses,” expressed Klim, who has been an AMGA member since 2016.

For Wharton, mentorship gave him a better understanding of how to make mountain guiding a viable career and to have longevity as an outdoor professional. “With a wide range of techniques available to accomplish different tasks, it’s useful to know what actually gets applied in the real world. I think repeated exposure to the important details with a mentor, with extensive and current experience working in the discipline, was the most valuable educational component to mentorship camp.”


photo by Jack Klim

As for advice for future participants of the Ski Mentorship Camps, Klim simply states, “be humble, challenge ideas, and learn about the ways to make guiding a viable career and how to prolong your longevity as a guide. It was also helpful coming into the camp feeling physically ready for long days and having a few goals written down.” While Wharton offers that in order to get the most out of your mentorship camp, it is important to have a “varied set of personal learning outcomes. The venue might be conducive to the things you most want to learn, or you might get a totally unexpected set of conditions. The wider your curiosity, the more opportunities you’ll have to make the most of your time.”


photo by Jack Klim

As for what is next? Wharton is now on the road to finding sustainable and long-standing guide work and plans to take the ASGC/AE (Advanced Ski Guide Course and Aspirant Exam) in spring 2019. While Klim is working towards developing more experience planning large expeditions and traveling confidently through glaciated terrain on skis/splitboard.

AMGA Mentorship Camps are low-ratio training opportunities for members going through the mountain guide programs. In addition to hands-on technical skills training, Mentorship Camps offer participants the ability to connect with a fellow guide and Instructor Team member to openly discuss concerns, challenges, opportunities, and aspirations for moving forward in the AMGA programs and in the guiding career. The 2018 Ski Discipline Mentorship Camp was made possible by the generous support of The North Face and is designed for two Apprentice Ski members to develop their guiding skills, work with an Instructor Team member and experienced peer, and prepare for their Advanced Ski Guide Course.

Jack Klim, an AMGA member since 2016, is an Apprentice Rock and Apprentice Ski Guide who works for Kling Mountain Guides in the San Juan mountains. Conrad Wharton, an AMGA member since 2016, is an Apprentice Rock and Apprentice Ski Guide who works for International Mountain Guides in Washington, where he began guiding in May 2017.