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is it still climbing if you use a guide?

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Postby woodsxc » Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:35 pm

Howie, welcome to SP. You've made some good points which make for an interesting (and surprisingly focused) thread right here.

PS. everybody drops the "The" in "The Chief" and just calls him Chief.
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Postby Guyzo » Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:41 pm

The Chief wrote:Yeah... I am taking this very seriously.

Monopolization that controls the entire guiding access within our National Parks and Forests, is a very dangerous thing.

Especially when it affects the existence and livelihood of many guides and the guiding orgs they pertain to that have been around longer than the self imposed "controlling" corporation that tells them to play along with them, or go away.

Mike, it has absolutely nothing to do with the guiding services themselves. Rather the entity that accredits them and seeks to oversee them.

I firmly believe that there should more than one entity out there that instructs and certifies guides within the Untied States. As long as they are playing from the same sheet of music there should be absolutely no issue. Allowing competition amongst that community would certainly foster some serious thought to the exploitation of course prices and encourage different ideas in the manner of which courses are taught and people are certified.



Howie and Chief.

Good debate.

Howie you cleared up some Q"s I had about the whole cert process and International Guiding.

I feel that competition is always best.

It's best for the customers and the guides.

To give one group preference over another regarding the use of our public lands would be wrong it would be Un-American.

That is just my opinion..... and I have no dog in this fight.

I do have a question, I asked this one before, maybe Howie can answer this one for me.

Does the AMGA sell the insurance a guide would use?

Or does one earn the certification, from AMGA, and go purchase from a third party who uses the cert as some sort of evidence of skills for the guide?

The beef I have with "ALL GUIDES" is when they take groups to popular spots and monopolize all the climbs with top ropes.

Late.

GK

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Postby The Chief » Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:58 pm

I quit drinking close to ten years ago... I have an allergy to it which results in my breaking out in handcuffs and getting public electrosys.

I respect your pos Howie, but will continue to foster a dialogue that allows for more than one instructing/certifying entity within this country.

Competition is good and totally the American way. Monopolization is not good and leads to elitism.

Both the Scuba Diving and Parachuting Community have several different Instructional/Certification entities that promote growth, allows for varying course rates and foster consistent upgrading.

I believe that the Climbing Guide community would benefit immensely from the same philosophy.

Guyzo, WTF are you late for.... you're jobless! I agree whole heartedly with ya on a Guiding Service taking over of an area. But then again, that is your fault for not saying something to the ring leader.
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Postby Guyzo » Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:14 pm

8)
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Postby howiemtnguide » Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:36 pm

Guyzo wrote:Howie and Chief.

Good debate.

Howie you cleared up some Q"s I had about the whole cert process and International Guiding.

I feel that competition is always best.

It's best for the customers and the guides.

To give one group preference over another regarding the use of our public lands would be wrong it would be Un-American.

That is just my opinion..... and I have no dog in this fight.

I do have a question, I asked this one before, maybe Howie can answer this one for me.

Does the AMGA sell the insurance a guide would use?

Or does one earn the certification, from AMGA, and go purchase from a third party who uses the cert as some sort of evidence of skills for the guide?

The beef I have with "ALL GUIDES" is when they take groups to popular spots and monopolize all the climbs with top ropes.

Late.

GK

:wink:


Guyzo,
Indeed, competition is generally good. I think the problem here is that there is only one certification in the US that has proven to meet international guiding standards. The others are self-proclaimed. The public doesn't necessarily understand that. You see regulation in driver's education for that reason. I can't just open up a driving school and assume that my courses will be accepted by the state. I need to have my program assessed and approved to a certain standard. I am not arguing for any monopoly on certification, only that all public land agencies should demand a high standard from their guiding outfitters. I think that is good for guides, their clients, and the land agencies themselves.

A major issue there is that the land managers often know very little about guided mountain activities, so they don't have the expertise to critically look at these certifications. A classic example of land management ineffectively trying to dictate guiding regulation is on Mt. Rainier. Last year they made a rule that all guided groups on skis must be roped above 10,000 ft. First of all, anyone who knows about ski mountaineering on glaciers understands that skis offer great protection from crevasse fall. It is also common knowledge that skiing downhill roped is incredibly difficult, often creating more danger than it addresses. Normally, below 10,000 ft. is where snow bridges are thin and weak. It is here, if anywhere, that a guide would be more likely to employ the rope. Similar examples of over-regulation guided by incompetence can be seen in Denali N.P. and other US lands. These land managers are often dealing with guides who have little experience, and guide for concessionaires trying to maximize profit in a short season. They feel they have to make rules to protect the public, which are often arbitrary. If these land managers had a reliable guiding standard to use, then perhaps they could more confidently let qualified guides do the complex decision making we do best.

What you start to realize when you go to places like Canada and the Alps, where guiding has thrived for over 150 years, people who go to the mountains with guides are cared for by their guides, not by government bureaucrats. In these countries, everyone, guided or not, has an inalienable right to go enjoy the mountains. It is important to these cultures that guides be competent, proven professionals. I had a French guide tell me once, "In America you say you live in the land of the free, but you cannot even go to your own mountains." This rings very true when you have to enter a lottery to hike up Mt. Whitney, or contend against a proposal to increase the Denali climbing fee to $500. To me that seems un-American.

Regarding insurance, good question. The AMGA does provide access for certified guides to insurances at reduced rates: life, disability, and mountain rescue. They haven't figured out liability insurance yet, but they have been working on it for years. Unemployment and worker's comp. for guide services have not been addressed by the AMGA, which is unfortunate. In all cases, the AMGA does not actually sell or underwrite the policies.

Agreed on the the big guided groups monopolizing the crag. We don't have that problem where we guide as often, as we rarely work with large groups when toproping. When we sometimes do, we always offer to temporarily pull our ropes out of the way for other climbers our just let them take a ride on our ropes. Any guide who doesn't respect the other climbers at the crag is probably a hack or just a jerk.

Hope this is all interesting or entertaining to some.
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Postby The Chief » Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:55 pm

- One of the contending factors in regards to the increasing Denali Fee...
Has to do with growing amounts of folks flocking to do the hill. The cost for the growing number of SAR Ops and the waste management by the NPS which have absolutely nothing to do with any Guiding Service.

- In the Alps, the people have absolutely zero LNT ethics in their hills...none! That my friend is fact for I have played in them hills many a time in the past 45 years and have witnessed the eco autrocities that have grown. And let's not even talk about the commercialization of their hills... Trams, Grid Bolted routes by the hundreds, Helo rides to any area, Helo Pads, Huts, Via Ferreta's a la go anywhere ya want etc etc...

If there were no "controls" in the Whitney Area as well as others, that place would be a complete cesspool of human waste, Via Ferrata's and Grid Bolting a la mode, plain and simple.

- Do not the areas you share that are under the scrutiny of the ignorant land managers, have designated "Qualified Climbing Ranger's" that in most if not all cases, are or have some sort of AMGA affiliation?
Last edited by The Chief on Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ksolem » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:14 pm

.... I had a French guide tell me once, "In America you say you live in the land of the free, but you cannot even go to your own mountains."


Gotta love the French. A definitive statement in the form of a put down on a subject of which he knows little. :roll:

All one has to do is sack up and pick one pass to the south or north of the Whitney Herd and you'll have the place to yourself.

Sorry for the diversion, commence round four, boys!
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Postby howiemtnguide » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:31 pm

The Chief wrote:- One of the contending factors in regards to the increasing Denali Fee...
Has to do with growing amounts of folks flocking to do the hill. The cost for the growing number of SAR Ops and the waste management by the NPS which have absolutely nothing to do with any Guiding Service.

- In the Alps, the people have absolutely zero LNT ethics in their hills...none! That my friend is fact for I have played in them hills many a time in the past 45 years and have witnessed the eco autrocities that have grown. And let's not even talk about the commercialization of their hills... Trams, Grid Bolted routes by the hundreds, Helo rides to any area, Helo Pads, Huts, Via Ferreta's a la go anywhere ya want etc etc...

If there were no "controls" in the Whitney Area as well as others, that place would be a complete cesspool, Via Ferrata's and Grid Bolting a la mode, plain and simple.

- Do not the areas you share that are under the scrutiny of the ignorant land managers, have designated "Qualified Climbing Ranger's" that in most if not all cases, are or have some sort of AMGA affiliation?


Guides regularly assist with the rescues on Denali, for nothing. More qualified guides on the mountain would decrease SAR costs. More "folks flocking to the hill" does not justify such a fee increase.

The people who live in the Alps regularly go to the mountains and respect them. LNT is an American invention (actually it was invented by NOLS about 20 years ago when they realized that their huge groups of people camping in the same places year after year were having a serious impact). Respect is an international concept. Who are you or I to tell these people how to respect their precious places? In my years of roaming in the Alps, I have seen far less trash in the mountains there than I have seen in the Sierra. And there are way more people going to the Alps. The worst is when the USFS tries to regulate the public on Whitney by taking out the "Alps-esque" solar composting toilets because they don't want to maintain them, then they implement a mandatory pack out your poop program. We have always voluntarily packed out our poop from Whitney, but now it is common to see poop bags on the trail that someone didn't want to carry. This is disgusting! The Alps would never have such disrespect. Keep in mind that instead of trams and huts, etc., we enjoy mountain roads to high trailheads, passes, and even summits. In many pristine wildernesses, we have horses and mules to carry camps with guides and cooks, all traveling on buffed out trails built to mule spec. This is considered an American tradition, but it erodes trails and leaves animal feces to step in and breathe. It is hard to smell your own stink once you get used to it.

No, if qualified climbing rangers have an AMGA "affiliation" it is pure coincidence. Any climbing ranger would be working as a ranger during their peak guiding season wouldn't they? Perhaps they were once, or hope to be, guides, or maybe they guide in another season. In any case, I don't know of any rangers at a policy making level that are active AMGA certified guides in the discipline they work in as a ranger. Do you?
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Postby Guyzo » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:37 pm

Howie.

Thanks for your well written, thoughtful, posts.

You have cleared up some of the questions.

Personally all the interactions I have had with Guides, in the last 10 years have been positive.

The guides I know, - Clark Jacobs, and "To Strong" Dave (Mayville) are guys who really seem to love what they are doing, love climbing and try to impart some of the rich history, ethics and customs of our sport to their clients.

The last time I saw Clark, he was giving some very advanced lessons.

He had his client walk up to the crowd at the base of a very popular climb, he introduced himself and asked.

"Where the heck is the end of the line for this one?"

I thought to myself, "that is phenomenal" that guy is really getting his money's worth. :)

And Chief, the Alps are a mess, but a pretty great place to hang and climb at. I love being able to order a Beer and Oxtail soup right up there on the glaciers.
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Postby The Chief » Wed Oct 14, 2009 6:15 pm

Actually Howie, the LNT philosophy stemmed from the Military (DOD)...

Navy, Army and USAF SERE invented it back in the early 70's as part of the Evasion Module.

I know, I was a SERE Instructor at Brunswick ME for 20 months in the early 90's.

And I have to beg to differ with you regarding the Euro's waste disposal manners. I am one of those Euro's and spent half of my young life in them hills and personally witnessed and was taught how to pee and shit in the hills.... go over there behind that rock and do your business.

The shitter's at Trail & High Camp were a nightmare! The last year of their existence, I was on Portal Butress climbing Satoris. I witnessed the USFS B3 Vertrep a total of 58ea 55 gal drums of shit and piss from them their shitters. I later asked Doug down at the store WTF?

He said that was just the remains from that season alone! He also mentioned how the Trail Camp Shitter constantly over flowed into the marsh and that the High Camp one was starting to do the same. One of the prime reasons they were pulled.

I will contend that Local Guides and the folks from SWS, have had a major impact with Dave Kirk and his crew up on the NF side. We have hauled out our share of WAG BAGS left behind by the many who do not wish to play the game. We have also helped him in the past two seasons with his Restoration Project by deterring as many folks to stay away from Non Established Trails. Dave Kirk and his boys have done a spectacular job in maintaining that entire NF area IMO.

Positive interaction between the Guiding Community and the Land Owners/Manager's is very essential to the success of the Guiding Community as whole. Regardless of the LM's policies. It's their turf that we are working on. That my friend is a fact of life that the entire Guiding Community must accept and work with.
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Postby The Chief » Wed Oct 14, 2009 6:51 pm

FortMental wrote:What's pubic electrosys?

Image
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Postby howiemtnguide » Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:10 pm

Chief (btw, thanks woodsxc for the name correction), I did not know that the military first came up with the wilderness stewardship philosophy that became Leave No Trace (a division of NOLS). That is interesting. I have some AMGA certified guide friends, who worked for NOLS at the time LNT was started and played a large role in the development of that organization.

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 am sure that SWS has done their fair share of clean-up in the N Fork of Lone Pine Creek, but so have all of the guide services. Props to SMC who organized a NF clean up day with the Inyo NF last season. And a shout to all of those guides who teach their guests to leave the mountains better than how we find them. Unfortunately, guides are no longer permitted to operate in the the S Fork, where most of the impact is, so it is up to the rangers and the public to manage that. The FS is currently "studying" the effects guiding has had on impacts in the N Fork, and I am sure they will find that guides have a positive effect on the quality of the landscape.

Regarding SWS, I know Dave C. and Tim K. and they are great guys who run an impressive business. I would be more psyched if they would jump on board with the local guide services and embrace AMGA training and certification for all of their guides, but I understand their reluctance to do so from an economic perspective. I know that some of their guides have done some AMGA training on their own. Our guide service pays a significant part of AMGA training and certification programs for our guides. This makes it a lot more affordable for them. The owners are also AMGA Instructors and we do in-house trainings as well. We feel that AMGA guide training is a critical part of our risk management plan. We also feel it is unethical to let guides try to figure out how to guide at the clients' expense. I was one of those guides who started by being thrown into guiding challenges by employers and wasn't ready for it (I thought I was...). I lacked the important guiding skills and awareness that comes from a combination of formalized training and experience. Luckily, I didn't kill anyone, but I came close a couple times. It is great that today's guides have better guide education opportunities than I did and that more and more employers are demanding that their guides be trained and certified.
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