Hey everybody! So I realize that it’s been a few months since our last Blog entry, but that’s becasue we’ve been so busy! This one is a little long, but take a few minutes to read bellow. You’ll see both what we’ve been up to as well as where we’re headed! I’ll break it down by month.
March: We finished up the winter strong with avalanche courses, backcountry skiing, and a trip to Mexico.
Avalanche: March is a great time to learn about snow science! The days are long and the snow is deep. We worked with San Juan College again this winter to provide the public with AIARE avalanche courses at a fraction of the price of a typical course. Since San Juan College is just that, a college, education is first! An AIARE Level 1 avalanche course that might typically be $325 with other providers is less than $100 with SJC! The college looks at the avalanche courses just like they look at biology or math courses. To them, they are just an other one credit course! Last winter New Mexico residents could take an AIARE Level 1 avalanche course for just $37 plus lab fees! Ah, but it’s a college you say. I can’t take those courses because I’m not a student. Well, you’re wrong! By virtue of San Juan College being a community college, class are open to everybody and anybody. It’s there for the community! Why would you ever do anything else?!?
Mexico: Education runs deep at Kling Mountain Guides! That’s why we put together a High Altitude Mountaineering course for San Juan College! WE venture back to Mexico this March to climb two volcanos! Pico De Orizaba the third tallest peak in North America at 18,491 ft and IXta the 3rd tallest, Iztaccuhatl the 8th tallest at 17,388 ft were our goals. Several factors that set this trip apart from other more typical commercial trips. These two factors were cost and education.
Again like the avalanche courses, this trip was fraction of the cost of other Mexico volcano trips. This trip with San Juan College cost the students $2,138. That included: international air fare, all food both while on the mountain and in towns, and even personal equipment! With a quick google search I found other commercial trips trying to offer the identical itinerary at a cost of $2500. That cost did not include; International airfare, food in towns or cities, cancellation or emergency evacuation, insurance, costs of a personal nature, or costs associated with flight or trip delays. That means the San Juan College trip to Mexico ended costing the participants roughly half of what others were charging. And let me tell you, it was a fabulous trip! 100% of the folks summated Ixta and seven of ten summited Pico. We were psyched! We will be offering this trip again in 2013 so begin your planning now. For a full run down on the trip please visit the previous Blog post where we detail the entire excursion.
April: The educational train continued into April with numerous other SJC courses. The most popular course was the Introduction to Mountaineering. This course has filled up every year with a wait list since 2005. There are even some foks that have taken the course three and four times! Find out for yourself why people love this course so much! Again, the educational message runs deep. This course works so well for so many due in part to the schedule we put together. Instead of making folks commit to taking a week off of work all at once, we break the schedule up. This year it consisted of four Tuesday evenings in a classroom. This time allows us to study maps and navigation, work on knots, and use Power Point presentations. Lectures that are more conducive to a classroom.
We then spend two Saturdays in the field. These are just day trips and allow folks to go home at night. It also allows the students to test out their equipment before using it on the overnight trip. Our Saturday topics include basic snow school and crevasse rescue. Every year the crevasse rescue is a favorite. Folks get to feel what the weight of a real person feels like hanging on the end of the rope in a controlled setting! If you have not experienced this before get in touch and we’ll help you get signed up for next years course.
The overnight consists of a winter camping trip and peak climb. We organize the trip expedition style. We construct a full expedition camp with a kitchen and even snow walls. Humans were not meant to go into the wilderness and suffer and we make sure of this on this SJC course. Good food, amazing folks, and expert instruction ensure that folks have an absolute adventure. This year our chosen climb was the Naked Lady Couloir on Snowdon peak with a new decent route not typically done. It’s always an adventure with SJC! In the past we have also held this overnight on Twilight Peak and Engineer mountain. Last years climb was a midnight ascent of Engineer! Good stuff!
Once the Intro to Mountaineering was over we put away the boots and took out the rock shoes for a Sport Climbing course. This course is designed to help folks step out of their comfort box in regards to leading on rock. We spend an evening in the SJC climbing gym working on lead climbing! With a safe setting, ample belayers and more rope than I know what to do with, the students get in as much “sharp end” time as they could want!
May: May was a busy month! We started of the season with a 40+ person Rock N Raft trip! This is a returning school group that comes to Durango every year. May wasn’t all guiding though. We practice what we preach and make sure KMG guides are taking course as well as teaching them. I recertified my Wilderness First Responder with the Wilderness Medical Associates (WMA) and Medical Officer.net. Jeff Isaac was the lead instructor and he knows his stuff. Jeff is a PA in Crested Butte Colorado where he runs the CB Mountain Resort Medical Clinic. He is also the curriculum director for WMA. This means that the material being taught in his courses is “straight from the horses mouth!” Sorry Jeff, not sure how else to word that! There are numerous different wilderness medical companies out there. I can say from having taken courses from several, Jeff’s are some of the best. We always say “Don’t go with the ordinary, go with the extraordinary!
I then ventured north to Boulder Colorado to observe an AMGA Single Pitch Instructor course with AMGA/IFMGA licensed guide Eli Helmuth. This was part of my continuing education to help me teach bette courses. After spending three days with Eli I am now able to instruct American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Single Pitch Instructor courses. These are the industry standard for folks that work in a single pitch environment.
June: A quick trip back to Durango to refuel and re-energize and it was back to Eldorado Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park for an AMGA Alpine Guides course. This was again part of my continuing education and continuing commitment to offering the highest quality trips and courses in the Durango area. This was a 10 day course that covered a tremendous amount of material. The days we long and packed full with expert instruction. I have now completed training from the AMGA in all three guiding disciplines; rock climbing, alpine climbing, and skiing.
In between all my continued professional development I’ve managed to squeeze in some guided trips as well. A guided trip on Castleton Tower here and a guided trip in Black Canyon there helped to round out a busy June! KMG also ran an AMGA SPI course. This was a great course taught by long time AMGA Certified Rock Guide KC Baum. The students all walked away with a wealth of new knowledge and great time!
July: There is no rest! In July I will be off to Washington State to guide a custom trip on Mt Rainier, the most glaciated peak in the lower 48 at 14,411 ft. This is a KMG trip run under our own permit. We have chosen to attempt the Kautz route. This is an off the beaten path route that is perfect for folks that have tried Rainier previously via more traditional routes.
After coming back from Rainier I am off to Peru for a custom trekking trip. I put this trip together for three fellows that I have climbed with before. They told me what they wanted and I put it together. That’s what KMG does! “Adventure is not in the guidebook and beauty is not on the map!” This is a 10 day trip culminating at the historic Machu Picchu site. The trip consists of trekking, cultural city tours, and guaranteed adventure!
Keeping in shape? So how does one stay in shape for all this activity? Good question? I used to say the best way to stay in shape for climbing and mountaineering was to climb! I’ve changed my statement. I have started going to Cross Fit Durango (CFD). These guys and gals rock. If there was ever anything that can get you into shape for an expedition this is it!!!
At CFD you will not find rows of traditional gym equipment. Any isolated movement, such as a one-arm bicep preacher curl, are not allowed! What makes CFD such a perfect workout for climbing, skiing, mountaineering, and expeditionary travel is the constantly varied functional movements performed at the highest intensity. CFD does this by incorporating pull-up bars, rowing machines, gymnastic rings, kettle bells, Olympic bumper plates and a very committed team of coaches.
Jacob and his expert certified trainers focus on effective functional fitness using CrossFit as a foundation. They do an absolutely wonderful job of making sure everybody feels welcome too. Never once have I ever felt like the “outsider” that didn’t belong. The workouts are every bit a sport as they are an extraordinarily effective training system. The extremely wide variety makes sure I am never board and I never wonder what I’m going to do when you walk into “the gym!” I said it before and I’ll say it again If there was ever anything that could get somebody ready for an expedition, it is CrossFit Durango!
If you are ever curious about what we’re up to feel free to shoot an email or give a call. If we don’t answer just leave a message and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible. You can also follow us along on Facebook and Twitter. Keep in touch and be safe out there!