Late Summer Blog Post

It has been an absolutely awesome summer.  The KMG guides have been literally all over the globe, from Durango to Canada, Washington to Alaska.  And now we have a custom Africa trip scheduled and booked.  To bring you up to speed we will do somewhat of an alpine style speed ascent blog entry.

The last entry left you with stories of skiing big lines in Canada with Josh  taking his American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Ski Mountaineering Guides Course and Aspirant Exam (SMGC/AE). After getting back from Canada, the Durango scene moved into full swing.  KMG brought on Alec Johnson, our former intern as a full guide.  Alec brings a tremendous wealth of experience to the table as a Prescott College Adventure Leadership graduate.  We have yet to see anybody come back from a trip, climb, or course with Alec that is not grinning from ear to ear.  Alec has been working Durango trips all summer is now an AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor (SPI).  Bringing on just one SPI was not enough.  Katherine Hollis, who has worked for KMG for several years also took and passed her SPI exam making her a AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor as well.  We figured why stop at just two, so we brought on a third!  Dave Childers, a Idaho University Outdoor Education graduate joined the KMG team.  That makes three new SPI hires this summer alone.

KMG guides don’t just stop with SPIs though.  John Miner a KMG ski guide and AIARE avalanche instructor continued his way through the AMGA certification process this spring by completing his Rock Instructor Course (RIC).  The RIC is the 1st step in the Rock Guide education and certification process.  It is designed for aspiring guides who have a strong rock climbing background and for instructors who are interested in improving their skills and increasing knowledge. The Rock Instructor Course places strong emphasis on maximizing client rewards while effectively managing risks. The Rock Instructor Course is also a prerequisite to taking the Rock Guide Course and the Alpine Guide Course.  Congratulations to John for passing the course! This continues to show that KMG guides have the widest breath of training in the area.

Once folks were done with their course, we moved into full swing for summer.  Our signature Rock N Raft adventures have again been a hit.  These are the best deal around if you are with family and looking for the total Durango package.  You really can’t beat a half day of rafting and half day of climbing for $99 per adult!  Alec has had his summer packed full of these single day adventure trips.

July and our trip up Mt. Rainier came quickly.  This year we choose the Emmons Route for our ascent of the Lower 48s most glaciated peak. The Emmons route is the second most popular route on Mt Rainier.  We choose to stack the cards in our favor by taking a total of five days to climb the mountain. Many other programs climb the Emmons in three or four days, making for a rushed ascent, a “death march” out, and no wiggle room for weather.  KMG is on the not rushed program!  For more details on the Rainier trip, please read that entry.

While Alec and Josh were off on Mt. Rainer, the rest of the KMG was enjoying the sun and fun in Durango and the desert southwest.  The rest of July was busy.  We had multiple tower trips on both South Six Shooter (grade 2, 5.7+, 300 ft) as well as Ancient Art (grade 3, 5.8 A0, four pitches) towers.  These are both spectacular first desert towers.

South Six Shooter consists of three fun pitches of desert climbing to a dinning room size summit.  The climbing follows cracks, ledges, and flakes up to the tiny summit, barely big enough for two rope teams.  From the top the views look west and south towards Canyon Lands National Park and east towards Indian Creek and the famous Dugout Ranch.  As usual, we were the only folks at our camp.

Ancient Art is an other spectacular climb.  It has recently been made famous from the Citi Bank credit card commercial.  Yes, that’s the tower in the commercial with the girl and the “rock.”  This climb begins by climbing a ledge system before traversing over to the base of a HUGE chimney.  The climbing up the chimney is extremely fun and not very difficult.

The real business is in the last pitch though.  While not technically difficult, it is all air and entirely mental.  The prize though is standing on top of a pizza box size summit hundred of feet above the desert floor.  This is probably one of the coolest towers you will ever climb.  When folks come in from around the world and want to climb a single tower, this is where we go.

Now it’s August.  Our Rock N Rafts trips are still running on daily basis.  We’ve switched into Black Canyon of the Gunnison mode. So far we have Black Canyon trips booked the next few weeks on; Ground Control to Major Tom (grade 3, 5.8, 1300 ft) Maiden Voyage  (grade 2, 5.9, 600 ft), Russian Arete (grade 4, 5.9 1800 ft) and Journey Home (grade 4, 5.10, 800 ft).  These are just the routes that are booked in the next few weeks.  Black Canyon rock season is just beginning and we are excited to be headed there!

Lastly, Josh will be headed to the Pacific North West and the North Cascades National Park to take part in an American Mountain Guides Association Advanced Alpine Guides Course and Aspirant Exam.  The Advanced Alpine Guide Course (AAGC) is the 3rd step in the alpine guiding education and certification process. The AAGC is designed for skilled climbers who wish to further develop their skills and techniques used while instructing and guiding in a glaciated alpine setting. The course covers the tools used when guiding and instructing on routes up to and including Grade V in length.  Grade 5 climbs are climbs that will take the typical climber a full day or more to complete.  It also covers management of 3rd and 4th class terrain,  (class 3 is steeper scrambling with increased exposure and a greater chance of severe injury, but falls are not always fatal.  Typically hands are only used for balance, not upward movement in 3rd class terrain. Class 4 can involve short steep sections where the use of a rope is recommended, and un-roped falls could be fatal.  Most folks will start using their hands for some upward movement in 4th class terrain.) technical descents, management and movement of multiple clients and small team rescue skills. Emphasis is on effectively managing risks and maximizing client rewards.

It’s going to be an awesome course.  This is Josh’s final full length course with the AMGA.  After this he will have a five day AMGA Ice Instructor Course this December in Ouray, and then two exams; a Ski Mountaineering Guides Exam and a Alpine Guides Exam.  With the completion of these last two exams, Josh will earn his International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA) license.

Keep following along.  There are many adventures to come, like our Kilimanjaro Climb and Safari this coming January.

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