We at Sierra Mountain Guides pride ourselves on employing AMGA trained guides. And we keep ourselves motivated to continue training. We are also very proud of our friends and clients and fans that know how the AMGA training process works and how it improves the quality and safety of our trips. Both as compared to offerings from other guide services, and as compared to your past experiences with us. The guide training and certification process requires that a guide be working in the field, leading his or her own trips, while completing the formalized programs. Even our fully-certified guides stay involved with AMGA programs, as instructors and consultants and vicarious students. Our SMG trips are pretty evenly staffed with guides fully certified, and those in the process. As one of those in the process, I benefit greatly from the mentorship and experience of our fully certified guides. And, with each program I attend, I can bring home the latest and greatest techniques and skills to the rest of the staff.
The AMGA recently instituted a required "Ice Instructor Course." Given where I am at in my training, I was one of a select few to have the option of attending the full course or an abridged "challenge" version. We at SMG have long led the charge in Eastern Sierra Ice Instruction and Guiding. Inspired to uphold that reputation, I chose to step up to the full Ice Instructor Course. Perhaps more than any other formalized guide training I have done, this program was worth every penny and every hour. The conditions weren't ideal (5 days of rain, in normally cold and dry Ouray, CO) but the instruction was above par, the content was eye opening, and all of our ice programs back here in the Eastern Sierra have improved significantly as a direct result.
I did the IIC back just before Christmas. We made the most of the marginal conditions, and didn't get in all that much great climbing. However, the spirit of the experience was learning, not climbing. We spent most of the time climbing along the "Camp Bird Mine Road" as the Ice Park closed for the warm weather, and higher, longer routes were significantly avalanche exposed.