MH - Mt. & Flowers
American Mountain Guides Association E~Newsletter
June 2008
In This Issue
New Mission Statement
Join us at AORE
Merchandise Blowout
A letter from Adrian Ballinger
AMGA Forum wants to hear your Voice
Climbing for the Challenge ~ Unclimbed Peaks Alaska Expedition
Fred Hutchen
Four AMGA Members attempt first ascent of unnamed peak in Alaska to help raise cancer awareness.

New York Times Article

I hope this email finds you well and enjoying summer.  We have a whole lot going on here at the AMGA, however we still find time to get outside and climb. 

In this E~Newsletter you will find a wealth of information - the AMGA recently adopted a new mission statement; we are going to the AORE conference this fall in San Diego where we will be hosting an SPI Course & Assessment; the Forum is going strong but needs a little TLC from our members; we are offering a blowout sale on AMGA & Mammut merchandise; and lastly, Adrian Ballinger writes about his experience on the Ski Mountaineering Exam in La Grave, France.

With that said, please read on...enjoy....and be well!
AMGA's New Mission Statement
MH - Mt & Sun After several months of intense brainstorming by a few members of the AMGA Board of Directors, a new mission statement for the AMGA was presented to the entire board for adoption at the recent June board meeting. By a unanimous vote the following mission statement was approved:

"The American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) is the premier source for training, credentials, and services for professional mountain guides and climbing instructors in the United States."

The goal of rewriting our mission statement was to clarify and clearly define our goals as an Association. The new vision has the beauty of simplicity while still covering what we do (and aspire to do) quite well.  It defines a clear mission which we hope will drive action.

Join us at the 2008 AORE Conference & Gain your SPI Certification!
The Association for Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) is hosting its International Conference, October 30th - Novemenber 1st, 2008 in San Diego, CA! 

While the AORE Confernce is loaded with keynotes, technical training and other events and activities, workshops are its foundation.  Through them, attendees and presenters alike leave the conference with professional development and energy to delve deeper into their practice.   This year AMGA is hosting an SPI Course and Assesment. 

AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course
Dates: November 2-4
Price: $435.00 per student
Location: Joshua Tree National Park
Camping Reserved: Joshua Tree National Park Sheep Pass group site

AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Assessment
Dates: November 5-6
Price: $230.00 per student
Location: Joshua Tree National Park
Camping Reserved: Joshua Tree National Park Sheep Pass group site

Program Overview
The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Program is designed to enable instructors to 'proficiently facilitate and instruct the spSPI picort of rock climbing in a single pitch setting'. The program is for current, active rock climbers that have a real desire to teach the rock climbing to novices in a single pitch setting. Candidates should be passionate rock climbers that have their own equipment, regularly climb and have been rock climbing outdoors for at least 12 months. Candidates could be current University Professors that teach climbing, Climbing Instructors, Scout Leaders, Summer Camp Professionals or climbers that wish to achieve additional training, experience and certification to gain employment as a Climbing Instructor in the Outdoor Industry.
The SPI Course is not a 'climbing' course it is an instructor training course for current, proficient and active rock climbers and for climbing instructors who currently teach rock climbing that wish to gain the SPI Certification. The SPI is the first stage of the AMGA's Rock Discipline guide training and certification program and will significantly help candidates that wish to work towards the next stage in the program, the AMGA Rock Instructor Course. The course teaches many instructor specific topics such as professionalism, teaching techniques, risk management, group site organization, climbing site conservation/LNT and assistance/rescue skills.
The SPI Program is a three day (27 hour) training course and separate two day (16 hour) assessment. Certification lasts for three years as long as the candidate keeps current AMGA Membership and First Aid Certification. After three years current SPI's can re-take the SPI Assessment to re-gain the SPI certification.

For more information and to register please contact the AMGA National Office at or call 303.271.0984.
AMGA/Mammut Merchandise Blowout!
Once again Mammut, an AMGA Diamond Sponsor, and the AMGA are offering up some great gear to help you perform at your best and look great while doing it.

Mammut Champ Pants are 50% off when you buy another item.  Save 10% when you purchase two or more items.

Yes folks, the AMGA has for sale some great items from Mammut.

Men's Stratus Jacket- size XL ($75.50)
Men's Ultimate Jacket - size Xl and L  ($99.50)
Men's Outline Zip - Size L and M ($59.50)
Women's Outline Zip - size L and M  ($59.50)
Women's Paine Jacket - size L and Sm ($129.50)
Women's Karakorum Jacket - size M ($79.50)
Champ Pants - variety of sizes ($99.50)
Courmayeur Pants - variety of sizes ($89.50)

Each item comes embroidered with the AMGA logo so that it is clearly visible when worn.  These garments would make a great addition to any outdoor enthusiast's wardrobe. 

Please visit our website for more information at AMGA / Mammut Merchandise.  To order, contact the AMGA office at 303.271.0984 or email  
All items will be shipped via Priority Mail.  Shipping and handling will be charged appropriately.

~ AMGA T-shirts

Treat yourself to a new organic AMGA t-shirts.  They are available through the AMGA costing the gentleman $20/shirt (Blue or grey) and the ladies $20/shirt (grey or green).  If interested, please contact the AMGA at 303.2710984.

2008 T-Shirts

~ NEW AMGA Patches ~
Calling all Certified Guides......
Summer guiding season is in full swing ~ NOW is the time to buy yourself a patch and sport it on your favorite guiding jacket, pant, sweatshirt, backpack or hat.   Let the world know your level of certification and help promote your guides assocaiton.

AMGA PatchPatches are 2.5" X 2.5" in dimension and cost $7 per patch.  Patches come in the following disciplines:

Certified Rock Instructor
Certified Rock Guide
Certified Single Pitch Instructor
Certified Alpine Guide
Certified Ski Mountaineering Guide
AMGA Accredited Program

To order, contact the AMGA office at 303.271.0984 or email  
All items will be shipped via First Class or Priority Mail depending on the item.  Shipping and handling will be charged appropriately.

A Letter from Adrian Ballinger, the 2008 Chad Vander Ham Scholarship Recepient

Three and a half years ago I found myself in the Cascades taking an AMGA Advanced Alpine Guides Course from Keith Garvey and Miles Smart. I had been teaching climbing and guiding almost 10 years already, and came to the course skeptical of the process and unsure of the necessity. I was fortunate enough to have an excellent course - strong fellow students, dedicated and knowledgeable instructors, and challenging conditions. By the end of the ten days, soaked to the bone from too many days in a Bibler tent in the Northwest rains, I knew I wanted to earn my full IFMGA/UIAGM certification.
A. Ballinger - Ski
Today, I am sitting in Chamonix, sipping a grand café at the end of a day of guiding five Brits on the Vallee Blanche in 50 cm of fresh snow under blue skies. I earned my full certification and began wearing the pin two weeks ago, completing my final step of the certification process, the ski mountaineering guides exam, here in the Chamonix Valley. Completing the process in just over 3 years was a significant financial strain, both from the costs of the courses themselves, and all the time spent training and learning new areas instead of working in the same venues I have been guiding over the past decade. The Chad Vander Ham Memorial Scholarship, the Nice Fund, is one of the reasons this was possible for me, and the only way I could have accomplished my goal this winter.

The exam itself was a worthy finish for me and another guide who completed his pin process, Mark Puleio. Joined by Dave Vallet, Jean Pavillard, and Rob Hess, we had a challenging snowy week in and around the Valley. Highlights included skiing the Tour Glacier from the Col du Passon in knee deep untouched powder (1800 meters of it!), skiing the Belvedere Face in the Aiguilles Rouges in similar conditions, white-out navigation across the Trient Plateau to climb the Aiguille du Tour, and more fresh tracks below the Dent du Geant on a big bluebird powder day.

Even better, with almost daily new powder refreshing everything throughout our exam, the K2 Coombas were the ideal ski for the touring and the downhill. They have turned out to be the perfect Alps ski - light enough to tour with and not feel ridiculous, yet wide and stable enough to really enjoy the turns in the powder, crud, crusts, and hardpack that we inevitably find on the long 2,000+ meter runs.

I just want to say thank you to Chad's family and friends and to K2 for the support of the AMGA and of me this year. I have myself as an example of how much certification can improve one's guiding, and of the doors it can open. Over the last 3 years in the AMGA, I have met some of my best ski and climbing partners, trained and guided in countless new venues, and skied and climbed some amazing lines. I look forward to being an active part of the AMGA in the years to come.

Thank you,
Adrian Ballinger
April 19, 2008

AMGA Forum is Waiting to Hear your VOICE!

Alright folks, the AMGA Forum is live and running located on our website under resources.  The forum is open to all AMGA Members - take a moment and share your knowledge, update current route conditions and beta from your area, or simply have a good conversation with another fellow guide.

Here you will find:

~Announcements and General Information
~AMGA Program Information
~Regional & International Route Conditions & Beta

Keep in mind - your participation is needed to make this a great resource!

The information contained on our forum has either been given to us or obtained from sources that we deem reliable. We have no reason to doubt its accuracy, but we do not guarantee it. The prospective user of the information should carefully verify each item and all other information contained or referred to on our resources and forum page.

As a professional mountain guide you accept the risks entailed in mountaineering and rock climbing and the responsibility of setting precedence for all of their clients to follow. AMGA instructors and guides are committed to providing quality risk management and rewarding experiences for their clients while protecting and serving as a steward of the lands they tread upon.

Best wishes,

Katie Kelly
American Mountain Guides Association