climbing instructors in the United States.”
What does it all mean? What ties it all together? The overwhelming theme among all these courses (9 of them: TRSMC (no longer offered), RIC, RGC, SGC, SMGC, AGC, AAGC, IIC, SPI... Gesundheit!) is professionalism. Guides work in a highly demanding, stressful environment. Whether that is at a crowded rock crag with a group of never-evers, or deep in the wilderness, alone with a strong climber on a technical ridge traverse a guide needs some structure from which to make choices and decisions. In these difficult and varied environments, we need experience, knowledge, personality, patience and a whole slew of other attributes you can’t even begin to imagine. Formalized professional development courses provide that structure, as well as peer review and crucial skills.
This round of the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course (June 3-5, 2011) was attended by a talented and varied group. We had a father-son team, just a few months into an open-ended climbing road trip. We had a charismatic veteran of 112 El Capitan ascents. We had a 5.12 crack climber and a relatively new leader. Also attending in various capacities were an SMG “consultant/intern“, wrestling-coaching-single-father-engineer, and myself as the token “perpetual student”. Talk about diversity of background!