Thursday, May 21, 2009

If you look closely you can see a group "cruxing" over 27 mile Glacier

Alaska Part III

If I thought being left on a glacier was strange, being left in Valdez was even stranger!  Andrea and Andrew had to go back to the Lower 48 and back to work while I stayed to take the AMGA Ski Mountaineering Guide Course and Aspirant Exam. The SMGC is a ten-day program designed to elevate your guiding skills to the highest standard in the ski discipline. This demanding and challenging program sharpens your skills as a guide and prepares you to become a Certified Ski Mountaineering Guide. The course includes an Aspirant Exam evaluation which tests both your technical skills as well as your practical guide skills in moving participants through terrain.  The first few days we were tested on our technical skills, like finding three buried beacons under 30cm x 30cm targets in seven minutes, or building a rescue sled from your “victim’s” skis and lowering them down a 40 degree slope, transferring them to a new ski anchor and lowering them to a required knot pass all in 70 minutes and finally digging a three person emergency shelter in 30 minuets.  Nine out of 11 participants arrived at the exam using a Mammut Baryvox Pulse beacon.  Its intuitive design really showed its strengths during my exam, and I was super psyched to have it.  The next few days had us touring around the Thompson Pass area but an almost full isothermal snow pack kept our tours limited to super early starts and early finishes (3:00am-11:00am, for example). A highlight was a heli-assisted three day tour which took us over several breath-taking cols, across seven different glaciers and traveled over 30 miles-- all while skiing amazing terrain. The best part about Alaska is if you’re willing to work a little for it there is a never-ending opportunity to ski new terrain.  You could probably ski a new line everyday of your life, if you had the opportunity!  Overall it was a great course, I learned a ton and passed my aspirant exam!  I’m looking forward to getting back home and to many future trips back to AK.

Here’s to warm rock and home, but Alaska will still be in the front of my mind while planning the next trip. Who knows… maybe I will see you up there!  For more photos or beta check out my website .  It’s still in its infancy but a full gallery will be up in the coming weeks as well as video of this year’s adventures! 


Thanks and I look forward to skiing  and climbing with you~

Steve & Andrea Charest                      
Alaska Randezvous giving us a bump to start a epic three day tour
A second group emerging from the valley fog and the only "white out" navigation over  the 
10 days
Sun rise on the Hoodoo Col

AMGA instructor Martin Volken demonstrates scoring a track  

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