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AMGA Certifies New Mountain Guides

Posted on: May 14th, 2010 by admin

Angela Hawse (left) and Caroline George.

Four AAC members recently passed the AMGA’s tough Ski Mountaineering Guide Exam in Alaska. For Angela Hawse of Ridgway, Colorado, and Caroline George of Salt Lake City, the exam was the final step in their quest to become fully certified IFMGA/UIAGM mountain guides—only the sixth and seventh American women to reach this level, and two of about 50 women guides in the world. Mark Falender of Snowmass, Colorado, and Tyler Jones of Ketchum, Idaho, qualified as AMGA Certified Ski Mountaineering Guides.

The 10 guide candidates spent eight days in Alaska under the watchful eyes of examiners Howie Schwartz, Evan Stevens, and Colin Zacharias. They worked in two ranges—the Talkeetna and Chugach mountains—with vastly different snowpacks. Day 3 brought the crevasse rescue test, which George describes as “arresting a fall, building a snow anchor, transferring the weight to that anchor, cleaning and padding the lip of the crevasse, going down to the victim to administer first aid, grab his skis, pole, and backpack, jug out of the hole, and haul the victim out, all in less than 45 minutes.” Whew!

It wasn’t all tough, though. With good weather on the fourth day, the group flew onto the upper Eagle Glacier out of Girdwood and found beautiful untracked powder.

“There is a new rule now that candidates have to wait two weeks to get thre results,” George said. “This felt like the longest two weeks of my life. I must have hit [my page on the AMGA] website at least 300 times!”

IMFGA/UIAGM mountain guides must be certified in three disciplines: rock, alpine, and ski mountaineering. The mountain guide status means they can legally guide around the world.

Hawse prepared this video of the exam experience:

Congratulations to all the new guides!

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