Nick Malik – 2016 Black Diamond Scholarship Recipient


As the recipient of the 2016 Black Diamond scholarship I would like to express gratitude to the AMGA and Black Diamond Equipment for assisting me with continuing education in the mountain guiding profession.  For years BD has been dominating the climbing industry in North America.  Often times, people tend to revolt against the large companies but I have seen time and time again how BD gives back to the climbing community.  I consider my home crag to be Indian Creek, the land of the Camalot.  Since I started climbing there I have seen permanent pit toilets established in Creek Pasture and Super Bowl, fire rings, picnic tables, and many more renovations to the camping areas.  BD has been instrumental in the upkeep of this international mega destination.  I remember rolling out of camp in Super Bowl and seeing about 40 people clad in brand new BD apparel with pickup trucks full of equipment.  That evening when we got back to camp there was a brand new pit toilet thanks to Black Diamond and a large number of volunteers.


I just managed to purchase a couple of the new Ultralights in the 0.75 and 2 sizes.  It was great to have a few of these during the course and everybody was very impressed.  I even caught one of the instructors lifting the 2 off my rack.  He wouldn’t put it down for half of an hour.  I can’t wait to get back to the creek next fall to climb Mondo with a full rack of Ultralight #4’s!


It is great that BD supports the guiding community as well.  It seems that rock climbing is growing quickly.  With the increase in popularity comes an increase in demand for instructors and guides.  There are many people teaching climbing around the country but not all come with equal training.

The guide operates every day in a high risk environment.  Not only is the guide’s life on the line, but other people’s lives depend on the guide as well.  Surgeons and airline pilots must go through extensive education and training before they are allowed to operate professionally.  Mountain guides are professionals as well and thus we must have a technical standard.  The AMGA has taken on the duty of attempting to standardize acceptable field practices among guides within the United States.  This is a heavy burden and it will not come easily.  Guiding has long been an apprenticeship based trade in North America so this transition, expectedly, is being met with resistance.


The impending implementation of scope of practice is challenging for young guides to deal with.  In order to be able to work, they must first invest in education.  It is because of generous donors such as Black Diamond that many of us young guides are able to continue with our education and seek more training.  By offering this scholarship, BD is not only helping the guides, but the entire climbing industry.  With more highly trained guides, climbing education will improve and safe practices should become more prevalent among recreationalists.