A Q&A with Alpine Mentorship Attendee, Zack Novak

ridge-work-on-house-buttress1) What does “mentorship” mean to you? Has this definition changed as the result of attending

the camp?

Mentorship to me is the core of how mountain craft has been passed down over generations. First as Climbers and later as guides, we identify the people that we want to learn from and through a medley of informal education combined with efforts to emulate what they model, we grow and progress.


2) In what ways do you feel mentorship is significant to the craft of mountain guiding?

As guides, especially if working solo, we are generally the authority in the group while at work. As such, it is easy to think that we are doing a great job, as long as everyone is succeeding and going home safely.

Getting out with partners and mentors, as well as mentoring others is important in order to make sure that we continue to evolve, think critically, fine tune and update our practices to be the most current and effective.


3) How did the 2018 Arc’teryx & AMGA Alpine Discipline Mentorship Camp help you grow as a


The AMGA Alpine Mentorship camp has been a great step in helping me progress towards my Alpine exam and identify some of my weaknesses that I will continue to work on, some for my entire career.


4) What was the biggest learning you had on the Mentorship Camp?

I was reminded that the biggest element of guiding is developing a strong intuition and knowing when to listen to it. I think it’s really easy to get derailed by thinking you know what people want to see on AMGA programs and the fact that we’re role playing a little doesn’t make it easier. However, at the end of the day, when you solve a challenge in the best possible way, it just feels right. Learning to identify the best possible solutions to these challenges in onsight terrain is a life long pursuit.


5) What was the most fun you had while on the Mentorship Camp?

Honestly, the most fun I had was the constant conversations. All three of us are very passionate and while we often have different views of how we would like to do things, we’re all in it for the same reasons.


jason-belaying-along-a-ridge6) What is your next step on your path to becoming an AMGA Certified Alpine Guide?

My next step is to take my final Alpine Exam, hopefully within the coming year. This is my final stage towards becoming both a Certified Alpine Guide and an American Mountain Guide.


7) What advice do you have for future mentorship camp attendees?

Come in with an open mind and ask a lot of questions. Hopefully you will work well with your mentor on the program and if you do, as yourself if you have a mentor like this that you can turn to in your career because it’s one of the most valuable resource.


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 Alpine Discipline Mentorship Camp was made possible by the generous support of Arc’teryx and is designed for two Apprentice Alpine members to develop their guiding skills, work with an Instructor Team member and experienced peer, and prepare for their Advanced Alpine Guide Course.