Friday, November 1, 2013

AMGA Annual Meeting - 2013

I've been attending American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) annual meetings occasionally for the better part of 15 years, but this meeting in Boulder was by far the best one that I've ever been too. 

Maybe I should step back...

The AMGA is the organization that oversees guide training, certification and accreditation for guides and guide services throughout the United States. Every year the organization hosts an annual meeting for membership. These meetings primarily provide an opportunity for three things. First, they provide a place for opportunities for continuing education. Second, they allow guides from all over the place to meet and compare notes. And finally, they provide the organization's leadership with a chance to talk to guides about what they're doing in order to support them.

This year was special for two reasons. First, I became a member of the AMGA's Board of Directors. And second, the organization hosted the first ever high altitude summit for guides and high altitude doctors to come together and talk about issues surrounding guiding and high altitude medicine.

Dr. Peter Hackett directed the training at the AMGA High Altitude Symposium.
Dr. Hackett is one of the word's leading researchers on high altitude medicine.

Dr. Alison Sheets, a former guide and a volunteer at the Himalayan Rescue Association, 
oversees a group of guides as they practice with a Gamow Bag. A Gamow Bag is a device 
that may be used for an individual who is suffering from altitude illness.  The patient is placed 
inside the bag and then the bag is pumped up creating the pressure of a lower altitude.

The High Altitude Symposium was absolutely fantastic. It was worth going to the meeting just for that.

Following the symposium, there were a number of "normal" clinics. I attended clinics on Advanced Tour Planning, Advanced Beacon Search Techniques, and Marketing.

AMGA Instructor Anna Keeling teaches a clinic on Tour Planning.

One of the most important parts of the annual meeting is the "Main Event." It is at the main event that they provide awards and generally have an excellent slideshow.

From left to right: AMGA Executive Director Betsy Winter, AMGA 
Access Director Scott Massey and AMGA Outreach Coordinator 
Dana Richardson. Scott Massey worked as an AAI Guide prior
to moving into the AMGA office.

At the main event they presented two awards. The President's Award went to Majika Burhardt and the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Kathy Cosley. Both Majika and Kathy started their careers at the American Alpine Institute.

The slideshow was presented by Dylan Taylor. Dylan started his career with AAI and still picks up work for us in the Alps. Dylan's slideshow was about his experience climbing and skiing in Afghanistan with Danny Ulmann and Aiden Loher, both guides who occasionally work for AAI.

Dylan's Afghanistan presentation was fantastic. He just returned from the region. However, he went there with Aiden, and Aiden was not able to get a visa out. As of this writing, he is still there! To learn more about this epic, check out Aiden's blog.

One of my favorite parts of annual meetings is seeing old friends.
Laura Sanders is one of the lead reps for FiveTen. She is one of my favorite
people from the years that I lived in Las Vegas. FiveTen and Laura do 
a phenomenal job of supporting guides throughout the industry.

Finally the grand meeting was over, and it was time for me to get down to work with the Board. We had a long and hard day working through a myriad of issues that affect American guides. At the end of the day we were rewarded with a high-end-dress-your-best dinner.

I never knew there were going to be such perks for being on the Board!

It was an exciting trip and I'm looking forward to more meetings in the future. But more importantly, I continue to look forward to serving the American Guide Community on the AMGA Board of Directors...

--Jason D. Martin

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