December 18, 2015
Nov 21, 2014 | guide stories |
A seasonal right of passage is upon us here in Jackson, the pre season. I refuse to call it the “Off Season” because it is anything but off. Although I do not receive any monetary compensation for the work I do this time of year, it is mandatory. I’m not referring to the physical training I do to ready myself for the winter. I’m talking about guide training, which usually means beacon drills, snow pits, observing the new snow pack as it comes in, and indoor corporate policy meetings.
Guide training is a great time to see guides you may have not seen all summer. It is kind of like the first day of school, catching up, hearing about others adventures during the warmer months. “How was your summer?” is a common conversation starter, and as guides staff’s age a little more every year some more common questions are “Are you healthy? All your parts and pieces working?”
The current state of commercial guiding on public lands in the USA doesn’t allow for even a fully certified guide to operate wherever they want. A teton backcountry guide must work for an outfitter that holds a permit for the area you will be guiding in. As a result I am currently employed by three different organizations here in the Tetons, and to remain on these guide rosters I must attend each of their guide training sessions. The same outfitters employ many of the guides in the valley and we will all be attending these together. This is a great time to learn from our peers. The level of talent and experience here in the Tetons is incredible. As I look around the classroom I see legends in the guiding community. First assents and descents litter the room, guides returning from Antarctic ski trips, guides who have recently published guide books, and a couple of newer faces looking around the room and realizing the company they are in. I was that guide once, not sure if I should comment, just soaking in all the experience that surrounds me. Anybody who knows me now knows how difficult that must have been for me to not comment. Let’s just say I’m not afraid to state my opinion. But in those early days I was a sponge. As a snowboarder coming in to this world of ski guides I had enough challenges in front of me without putting my foot in my mouth. Somehow I managed to get through those guide training sessions and go on to have a long career as a snowboard guide. Now as I look around the room and see many new and younger faces I think about the mentors who helped me along this path. The best way I can thank them is to pass along the knowledge and experiences, with this next generation of guides coming up. And I’ll probably learn something from some of them.