While the AMGA/IFMGA meeting was really a conference with dozens of smaller committee meetings and trainings all over the city, there were a handful of bigger events at which a large percentage of the participants got together. The first was a fantastic opening event at the Prana store in downtown Boulder. The second was the IFMGA General Assembly, the third was a guides parade in Downtown Boulder, and the last was the AMGA Main Event, consisting of dinner, talks, awards, and a climbing narrative presented by American IFMGA guide and world class climber, Vince Anderson.
The city of Boulder pulled out all of the stops at the event. You're probably aware that Boulder is an extremely popular place for outdoor sports. Indeed, like our homebase in Bellingham, Boulder is considered by many to be one of the capitols of outdoor and adventure sports in the United States. Clearly, the business owners and residents of the city take pride in this perception and opened their arms to the visiting guides. There were meetings and dinners at numerous restaurants and shops. And for a few days, guides wearing IFMGA and AMGA jackets dominated the downtown scene.
for the meeting and features European IFMGA guide Leo Caminada in the center.
Leo was the president of the IFMGA when the AMGA was selected as a member.
The final evening of the conference was far more AMGA oriented than many of the previous meetings. The first part of the evening was dedicated to the memories of two guides that passed away this year. John Fischer and Heidi Kloos were guides from two completely different generations. Fischer was a pioneer in the guiding industry in the 1970s and was instrumental in helping create an organization that was the predecessor of the AMGA (the APMGA - the American Professional Mountain Guides Association). Kloos was a modern "big mountain" guide and one of the few women in the United States to complete her Alpine Guide certification. The community lost both of these guides this year, Fisher in a motorcycle accident and Kloos in an avalanche. As with every guide memorial, many tears were shed. Both John and Heidi will be missed.
At the centerpiece of the Main Event was a history of the AMGA. Doug Robinson sketched out the events that led to the creation of the APMGA, the predecessor to the AMGA, the original organization pioneered by a small circle of guides in California from 1979 to 1985. Dunham Gooding, AAI's president, gave a colorful history of the AMGA's challenging and ground-breaking first ten years. He detailed the events which led to where we are today. Dunham began the narrative in 1986 and talked about how the National Accreditation Program was established, how the National Guide Certification Program was designed and implemented, and how the US applied to the IFMGA for membership in that international body. Dunham served as AMGA Vice President for three years and President for six years during that formative time.
In the historical sketch, Dunham noted that the leadership of the IFMGA was incredibly encouraging and welcoming to the American application. Representing the US through those years at the IFMGA annual meetings, he described how open and supportive the Europeans were to the candidacy, both on personal as well as on official levels. Dunham particularly noted the generosity of the Canadians, Hans Gmosser, and Karl Classen. Canada served as the US sponsor in the application process, led by the esteemed Canadian Mountain Guides Association President Hans Gmosser (known as the beloved "grandfather of guiding" in Canada, unfortunately now deceased) and Technical Committee Chair Karl Classen.
The AMGA Annual Meeting and the IFMGA Meeting were both great successes. This was a spectacular event, and the membership of the AMGA is thankful for the work of AMGA Executive Director Betsy Novak and AMGA President/former AAI Avalanche Provider Margaret Wheeler, in putting together the conference. This was a real opportunity for those of us who don't work in Europe to reach out to our foreign brothers and sisters in friendship. And now we can only hope that we have the opportunity to do so again. While this was the first IFMGA meeting in the United States, it will certainly not be the last.
--Jason D. Martin