Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Guide's Course Video Wrap-up

Okay, all I have time for is to post the link for this video I just made of the AMGA course I taught last week. Enjoy!

Now I gotta get set for a few more days of ski touring in the Chugach, based out of Valdez.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Final Stretch

The 10 day ski mountaineering guide course actually culminates with a 3 day mini-exam, so that candidates are then tested and certified to an assistant guide level. Over these 3 days, we take a close look at how they perform in 9 different areas:
  1. Risk Management
  2. Client care
  3. Technical Systems
  4. Application
  5. Terrain Assessment
  6. Movement Skills
  7. Mountain Sense
  8. Professionalism
  9. Instructional Technique
As examiners, we give the candidates an objective, and then they make the appropriate plans to try and accomplish that objective. For these 3 days we based ourselves out of Keith's Hut in the Cerise Creek drainage off of the Duffy Lake Highway. If you haven't been to the Duffy, you are missing out. Basically, it is like the Rogers Pass of the Coast Range. Road side access to 5,000 vertical feet of relief, with chutes, glaciers, summits and pillow lines every where you look. Typically, it has a deep coastal snowpack as well. We never got any of our 3m + probes to hit the ground once at and above treeline. I was speculating that up high on the glaciers, the snowpack was at least 4 meters deep.

The first day's objective was to tour in to Keith's Hut, get settled and then take us on a quick powder skiing tour near the hut.

Day two was to try and summit Mt Matier and ski the Anniversary Glacier and some other smaller summits in the area.

Day three was to ski the Twin One glacier and ski out from the Hut.

Here are a few photos of the days to give you an idea of what we were up to. Right now I am trying to edit a video that will showcase what the candidates do during these exams.

Touring for Powder below Joffree Peak

Can you find the skiers? White out turns on the Anniversary Glacier

Danny shows us his Alpine Guide rope coiling prowess

White out peak scrambling. Rime doesn't ski so well, let's leave the skis behind for the summit of Hartzell.

Touring below the west buttress of Mt. Matier

Matt thinks another day might be appropriate for the NW face of Matier.

The first group makes its way to the Anniversary Glacier

Danny trying not to lose it with another night of tour plans.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Burning the Candle from Both Ends

Sometimes that is what the guide certification process is about. The alarm goes off at 5:45 am, coffee maker is turned on, weather is checked, bag is packed, lunch made, thermos filled. Skins? Check. Ski boots? Check. Gloves, hat, goggles, sunglasses, warm hat, gore-tex....check check check. And then the candidates show up at my house at 6:55am for the morning guide's meeting and briefing. We discuss the overnight changes in the weather and snowpack, the anticipated hazards associated with our day, and then review our plans. We pile out of the house and head up to the hills for more ski touring fun.

That is how every day has started for me lately, and they haven't been finishing until around 7pm at night, when the tours are done, the candidates debriefed, weather and snowpack discussed and plans finalized for tomorrow. Then its dry out my gear, unpack, eat dinner and go to sleep. Repeat the whole process the next day.

But we have fun out there everyday, because after all it is ski touring/mountaineering, and we are climbing peaks and skiing mostly powder. This week has been a blitzkreig of spring storms, that are seeming more like December than April. Low freezing levels on the coast of BC, has resulted in over 120cms of cold smoke at Whistler this week. It just doesn't stop...which isn't necessarily that great if you want to do some ski mountaineering! The last few days have been spent going over short roping and glacier travel, and attempted ski of Cayoosh on the Duffey Lake Road, tree skiing on Chief Pascale on the Duffy, and some more touring in the Blackcomb Backcountry.

Here are some shots to give you some visuals of what we have been doing this week.

Snowpack evaluation on Chief Pascale

Short Roping up Disease Ridge at Blackcomb

Disease Ridge

More Disease Ridge

Coming around to Blackcomb Peak