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is it still climbing if you use a guide?

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Postby The Chief » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:18 pm

So Howie,

How many actual real life rescue, life and death scenarios, have you had with any of your personal clients that were under your charge?

This is one of the critical issues that disturbs me greatly. I have encountered some "certified" guides out there that when they were confronted with a bad deal, they literally froze up. Even to the point where another client had to take charge of the scenario.

I know that it is a difficult issue to bring up. But, I believe that any uncert'd guide that has the experience and time under their belts and has dealt with a real personal rescue scenario and has gotten through it, should in fact have that be taken into consideration when being evaluated.

Reminds me of a Qualification Standard in the Navy that we readdressed regarding Combat Search and Rescue Personal and Crash and Salvage On Scene Leader Designations. Anyone one crewman that was going after their CSAR Pin or OSL Desig and had in fact completed any actual CSAR or Crash Rescue evolution prior to them actually applying for one, was automatically awarded their designation and their PQS quickly reviewed and signed off.

As we all know, at least those of us that have had the misfortune to have experienced it, real life events will always differ completely from those that are in a controlled environment that one finds in a certification scenario.

Something that should always be considered as an evaluator. I did when I was tasked with being one. And one thing that we as evaluators Navy wide got together on and implemented into several Certification Syllabus's.

Reminds me of this one young brash Navy LT who confronted this young Airmen when he attempted to relieve him of a small Crash scenario on deck. The young Airman basically told the LT to step aside and that he was taking over the scene. The LT instantly denied the young Airman and told him that he was not certified to do so and that he was through his four week Flt Dk Officer course. I instantly told the LT to beat it and put the Airman in charge. That young Airman had two weeks previously taken charge of an actual A/C fire and performed flawlessly. His Cert paper work was held up somewhere in CnC system awaiting the Skippers sig.

The AMGA at one time called that "Grandfathering" and USE to do that. But no longer does...why?
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Re: Is it still climbing if you use a guide?

Postby Jeroen Vels » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:02 pm

JanG wrote:How about trying to find your way when clouds suddenly appear and you are completely lost because all landmarks vanish? That is when a guide can save your life.

Or when it starts snowing and all traces of the trail are lost on a long descent?

Everything is " easy " when it is clear but anyone can attest to totally different situations when weather rolls in & you still have a long way to go!
JanG


That's what diffentiates an alpinist from a climber ;-)
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Postby The Chief » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:18 pm

anita wrote:Chief: since when are you an actual guide?


Since last season when I decided to get back into the deal after a lay off of over 14 years. I do part time gigs for a local well established service.
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Postby howiemtnguide » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:24 pm

Chief, sounds like you have had some pretty interesting experiences in the military. I am definitely fascinated by that sort of thing, having never served myself. From my perspective, your story seems supports the value of training, experience, and the certification process. Ultimately, the piece of paper means nothing. It comes down to the qualities of the guide and their background. If part of that background includes formal training and assessment, then it usually improves the job done.

One flaw with the certification process as I see it is that the assessment only looks at guiding skills that can be practically assessed like: technical systems, movement skills/fitness, general hazard awareness and risk management, professionalism in risk management, terrain assessment and utilization, mountain sense, client care, environmental consciousness, etc. We haven't figured out how to best test the important personal skills of creating and maintaining rapport with clients, and leadership qualities in real emergencies (as you astutely reference). Part of the job is managing the risk, but the other part is facilitating an enjoyable experience for the clients. You can generally get a sense of the latter in an exam context, but it is generally a bit contrived and almost impossible to objectively assess.

I think a lot of guides certified and uncertified don't realize that certification is not the pinnacle of guiding achievement. All it does is tells the public that a guide has been through the rigorous training program and had skills assessed, numerous times. Certification means that skills have proven to meet minimum industry standards. A freshly certified guide is like a rookie airline pilot that just earned their wings. It takes quite a lot of experience on top of that to gain upper-level proficiency. It's like any other complex trade or skill set. I can tell you that my learning curve spiked big time after I became certified, and I am still learning all the time. One of my Swiss guide mentors named Freddy once told me, "There are no good guides, only old guides." I take that to heart more and more as I watch more of my friends and colleagues die while working or playing in the mountains.

I am not sure I understand your point regarding "grandfathering." As I mentioned before, grandfathering ended in the AMGA around 1999. They don't do it anymore because they have a solid certification program for aspiring guides. All of the old schoolers were given an opportunity to apply when during the grandfathering period. There have been a few guides in their 50's who missed that window and, impressively, passed all of their exams to become IFMGA guides. Hats off to them!

As for my own experiences, I have witnessed death and serious injury in the mountains. I have responded on numerous mountain rescues, both technical and non-technical. I have been very fortunate to have never had a serious injury or death with someone in my care as a guide. I have definitely had a few close calls and evac's, with no major consequence. I do not consider an accident record to indicate the competency of a guide, unless of course if there is an obvious pattern of recklessness or poor decision-making.
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Postby The Chief » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:29 pm

anita wrote:is there something you *don't* do?


I don't help blow things up or kill people anymore.... does that count?

howiemtnguide wrote:I think a lot of guides certified and uncertified don't realize that certification is not the pinnacle of guiding achievement. All it does is tells the public that a guide has been through the rigorous training program and had skills assessed, numerous times. Certification means that skills have proven to meet minimum industry standards. A freshly certified guide is like a rookie airline pilot that just earned their wings. It takes quite a lot of experience on top of that to gain upper-level proficiency. It's like any other complex trade or skill set. I can tell you that my learning curve spiked big time after I became certified, and I am still learning all the time. One of my Swiss guide mentors named Freddy once told me, "There are no good guides, only old guides."


The two above highlighted sections need to be promoted more. Not only within the confines of the Guiding Community, but within the public.
Last edited by The Chief on Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby JHH60 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

howiemtnguide wrote:One flaw with the certification process as I see it is that the assessment only looks at guiding skills that can be practically assessed like: technical systems, movement skills/fitness, general hazard awareness and risk management, professionalism in risk management, terrain assessment and utilization, mountain sense, client care, environmental consciousness, etc. We haven't figured out how to best test the important personal skills of creating and maintaining rapport with clients, and leadership qualities in real emergencies (as you astutely reference). Part of the job is managing the risk, but the other part is facilitating an enjoyable experience for the clients. You can generally get a sense of the latter in an exam context, but it is generally a bit contrived and almost impossible to objectively assess.


I find this very interesting. I was a certified scuba instructor for many years. Demonstrating the ability to recognize and deal with varying stages of simulated client stress before it leads to full blown panic was probably the most critical skill for passing a formal instructor evaluation, as a panicking student underwater situation quickly turns into a body recovery. I'm a bit surprised it's not part of the formal mountain guide certification process. Granted the underwater and mountain environments are different and most problems underwater can be dealt with in minutes rather than hours or days, so it's easier to do a lot of underwater stress evaluation in a reasonable amount of time.
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Postby Day Hiker » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:21 pm

howiemtnguide wrote:From the research I have done on the Whitney Trail toilets, they were overflowing because they were being mismanaged due to insufficient funding. I concede that pulling them may have been their only option at the time, but this was the final action that put an end to years of mismanagement.


I still can't figure out this one, but maybe someone can explain it. The Whitney quotas are 100 and 60 for dayhike and overnight, at $15 each. So, completely ignoring for a minute any funding the NFS may get from our federal tax dollars, that's tens of thousands of dollars (maybe up to $72,000) from Whitney permits alone PER MONTH in the summer. And that's not enough to support a few underpaid rangers' salaries and their office and maintain the trail and a couple of toilets at Outpost Camp and Trail Camp?
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Postby howiemtnguide » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:29 pm

JHH60, I hear you. These types of things are assessed, but as you say, the stress is simulated. Examiners can't get too into role playing on exams - we are not actors. We sometimes contrive tricky guide problems and challenging situations, but real client assessment can only be done with real clients. We have found to see a guide truly perform to their full potential in guiding applications you have to keep it as real as possible. With pretend clients (the examiner and fellow candidates) it is hard to test the challenges that come from managing the people, and we focus instead on the challenges presented by the terrain. We do see them operate under stress, which is very real, but exam stress is a different kind of stress than critical incident stress.

Some IFMGA countries have integrated real clients into part of their advanced courses. I would like to see that happen at the AMGA. Could be a great way for the public to get a guide on the cheap, kind of like getting a haircut at the barber school!
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Postby howiemtnguide » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:32 pm

Day Hiker wrote:
howiemtnguide wrote:From the research I have done on the Whitney Trail toilets, they were overflowing because they were being mismanaged due to insufficient funding. I concede that pulling them may have been their only option at the time, but this was the final action that put an end to years of mismanagement.


I still can't figure out this one, but maybe someone can explain it. The Whitney quotas are 100 and 60 for dayhike and overnight, at $15 each. So, completely ignoring for a minute any funding the NFS may get from our federal tax dollars, that's tens of thousands of dollars (maybe up to $72,000) from Whitney permits alone PER MONTH in the summer. And that's not enough to support a few underpaid rangers' salaries and their office and maintain the trail and a couple of toilets at Outpost Camp and Trail Camp?


I am not completely sure here, but I believe that the Inyo NF, Whitney Zone is not funded directly by these revenues. They have a budget each year that gets funds from the DOI. Good question though, maybe someone else knows more...
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Postby The Chief » Thu Oct 15, 2009 12:12 am

howiemtnguide wrote:
Day Hiker wrote:
howiemtnguide wrote:From the research I have done on the Whitney Trail toilets, they were overflowing because they were being mismanaged due to insufficient funding. I concede that pulling them may have been their only option at the time, but this was the final action that put an end to years of mismanagement.


I still can't figure out this one, but maybe someone can explain it. The Whitney quotas are 100 and 60 for dayhike and overnight, at $15 each. So, completely ignoring for a minute any funding the NFS may get from our federal tax dollars, that's tens of thousands of dollars (maybe up to $72,000) from Whitney permits alone PER MONTH in the summer. And that's not enough to support a few underpaid rangers' salaries and their office and maintain the trail and a couple of toilets at Outpost Camp and Trail Camp?


I am not completely sure here, but I believe that the Inyo NF, Whitney Zone is not funded directly by these revenues. They have a budget each year that gets funds from the DOI. Good question though, maybe someone else knows more...


Just like any entrance fee to any NP, the funds return to a general USFS pool account and not the home turf from which the revenue was generated.

Each prescribed area/zone/district etc is allotted an annual operating budget. The intake of it's rev's has absolutely nothing to do with that budget.
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Postby Day Hiker » Thu Oct 15, 2009 12:52 am

The Chief wrote:
howiemtnguide wrote:
Day Hiker wrote:I still can't figure out this one, but maybe someone can explain it. The Whitney quotas are 100 and 60 for dayhike and overnight, at $15 each. So, completely ignoring for a minute any funding the NFS may get from our federal tax dollars, that's tens of thousands of dollars (maybe up to $72,000) from Whitney permits alone PER MONTH in the summer. And that's not enough to support a few underpaid rangers' salaries and their office and maintain the trail and a couple of toilets at Outpost Camp and Trail Camp?


I am not completely sure here, but I believe that the Inyo NF, Whitney Zone is not funded directly by these revenues. They have a budget each year that gets funds from the DOI. Good question though, maybe someone else knows more...


Just like any entrance fee to any NP, the funds return to a general USFS pool account and not the home turf from which the revenue was generated.

Each prescribed area/zone/district etc is allotted an annual operating budget. The intake of it's rev's has absolutely nothing to do with that budget.


I can't find the info online, but I've been told by park staff that some particular percentage of each entrance fee goes to that particular National Park, and then the rest goes to the NPS in general. And that arrangement even includes purchases of the multi-park $80 annual pass. I think the percent is maybe as high as 50%, but I can't find it online, and my phone is broken, so I can't call to ask right now.

I appreciate the info regarding the NFS, though, and it sounds like a correct explanation.
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Postby The Chief » Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:28 am

Also, be advised that the Whitney Zone is just a small component of the entire Inyo Natl Forest District.

With that said, any rev taken in and kept as a %, would then go to the District and not just solely to the Whitney Zone.
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Postby howiemtnguide » Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:06 pm

Just had this video sent to me from an AMGA Alpine Exam in the North Cascades this year. Pretty cool!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Plww7ZZFbX0
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Postby Day Hiker » Fri Oct 16, 2009 7:29 am

The Chief wrote:Also, be advised that the Whitney Zone is just a small component of the entire Inyo Natl Forest District.

With that said, any rev taken in and kept as a %, would then go to the District and not just solely to the Whitney Zone.


Yes, that makes sense. I guess I am just thinking that if Whitney didn't exist within the district, they should be able to fiscally operate just fine without it, just like any other district that doesn't include the 48's highest peak. So, WITH Whitney existing in the district, there is all this extra money from the extra visitation that this peak brings, so I see no reason why this money couldn't go to maintaining the facilities for THAT peak. But in my brain there is too much logic and not enough bureaucracy, I guess.
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