Joshua will be taking the AMGA Ski Guide Course in Utah next week. He's done his homework: years of backcountry skiing, a level three avalanche course, weeks of practicing skills.... To gain a head start on his course, we headed into the Southcentral backcountry for a few days of Ski Guide Training.
On the first day we met at 7am at Kaladi's Coffee to discuss the snowpack, current weather and trip planning. Then we headed up to Glen Alps above Anchorage.
Our goal was the rocky north ridge of O'Malley Peak, an ideal venue to practice technical guide skills. In this photo Joshua is short-roping me, a guide technique that uses a short section of rope to stop a client's slip from becoming a fall. While short-roping is perhaps the epitome of guiding–moving together fast up a mountain–it is a fine balance between pushing it too far for security and moving efficiently through steep terrain.
Higher on O'Malley, I demoed short-pitch technique on this vertical step. Then Joshua took over protecting me with terrain and body belays on the exposed steps.
Joshua at the edge of the Ballfield, hiking back to the ski decent into Campbell Creek on smooth windslab. O'Malley's North Ridge is the looker's left ridge in the background.
The next day we headed to Eddies at Turnagain Pass to work on ski guiding skills. A huge storm had just finished, leaving a deep slab avalanche problem. The snowmachine uptrack to Seattle Ridge (visible in this photo) had ripped to ground the day before. Luckily it was a remote trigger and no one was hurt.
Joshua below the final pitch of Eddies. On the ascent we practiced beacon check, companion rescue training for clients, track-setting and terrain management with clients.
Joshua in his emergency shelter. Ready for a blizzard.
With the deep slab avalanche problem, the low-angle terrain at Eddies was magnet for skiers: Jeremy Wood, Cody Arnold, Joshua Duffus and Andy Newton.
The powder skiing was incredible! Perfect for down guiding skills.
Thanks for a couple fun days Joshua! Good luck at your ski guide course. Eric Liedecker is an incredible instructor. I'll be calling you later to hear about it.