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madrasrock


Dec 16, 2013, 2:24 PM
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AMGA and Access
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Guides address important issues, show new cohesiveness at 2013 AMGA Annual Meeting

From the round table to the clinics to the social events, most participants agreed this Annual Meeting was the most successful one ever held. About 175 people attended the social events, award ceremony, and professional development clinics run by AMGA Instructor Team members who were paid for the first time. Plus, the AMGA introduced the unique and exciting High Altitude Symposium.

“Our goal this year was to increase the value of the Annual Meeting to our membership, including the overall level of professionalism and professional development opportunities,” said Outreach & Advocacy Director Scott Massey. “By doing the Symposium as the introductory event, we really set the bar high.”

According to Fox Mountain Guides Owner and AMGA Board Member Karsten Delap the Symposium illustrated the purpose of the AMGA and its guides. “We offer the coolest information that is the latest and greatest out there,” he said. “That’s what we are all about—education.” But more than that, he added, this year’s Annual Meeting showed that the AMGA and its guides are moving the profession forward as a cohesive unit.

AMGA Technical Director Dale Remsberg agreed, adding: “In the past the guiding community was a lot more divided. But as we have continued to work on common goals, those gaps have closed. We are really addressing this tough issues head on.”

In fact, Massey addressed one sensitive subject at the October 24 Round Table—the training of guides working for accredited business. The Board of Directors recently decided that all guides of AMGA-accredited businesses must be trained by the AMGA for the terrain in which they work. Guides hired before January 1, 2008, who did in-house trainings are exempt if they continue to work for the business that hired them prior to that date. But all new field staff that started after that date must be trained by the AMGA.

“There was a widespread perception that our accreditation program was devaluing the time and effort that guides have put into the training and certification process,” Massey explained. “By bringing these two programs closer, we feel that begins to address the issue.” Feedback was positive for the most part, he added. However, among other concerns voiced, there were concerns that turnover at small guide services might make it quite challenging to maintain accreditation.

“But,” says Massey, “with increasing numbers of guides taking AMGA programs, there will be a bigger hiring pool in upcoming years.” Plus, he added, accreditation-based access gives the AMGA more bargaining power with land managers. “It addresses the business-related needs of land managers; in addition, it assures both the public and land managers that all guides working for guide services accredited by the AMGA are trained by the AMGA for the terrain on which they work.”
Another tough access issue addressed was the perception of who has access. Currently no national directives apply universally to our public lands, and so there has been contention around who should have access—guide services or individuals.

“But both options can work and are appropriate for American guiding,” Remsberg said. The AMGA, he added, is actively lobbying legislators “at a DC level” to encourage them to establish a directive that applies to all national parks.

“Around the country barriers are being broken down,” Remsberg added. And the reason is that guides and guide services are working more closely with each other and the AMGA.

“There is real change happening, and we are becoming a strong organization,” added Delap. “The AMGA leadership continues to get stronger because the members are stepping up to the challenges that we all face.”

What do you think? Is the goal of the AMGA to limit access to individuals on public lands?


lofstromc


Dec 17, 2013, 7:22 AM
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Re: [madrasrock] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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madrasrock wrote:
What do you think? Is the goal of the AMGA to limit access to individuals on public lands?

The goal of the AMGA should be to stay out of individuals business and not even think about impeding their access to public land.


socalclimber


Dec 17, 2013, 7:42 AM
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Re: [lofstromc] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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The single goal of the AMGA is to be a monopoly. All's you're reading here is a the mindless drivel of one of their automatons.

By the way, I thought advertising on this site was not allowed unless it is payed to do so.


ncrockclimber


Dec 17, 2013, 10:06 AM
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Re: [madrasrock] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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What a terrible post. WTF are you / the AMGA trying to convey with that disjointed mess of words. I am pretty neutral on the AMGA, but that seemed like a very poor attempt at marketing BS to me.


madrasrock


Dec 17, 2013, 12:46 PM
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Re: [ncrockclimber] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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Let me say the AMGA dose have a very good training program, and I think they have set some good standards for technical issues, but their political policies are not what we want here in the Unites States.

The primary text is directly from the AMGA, blog, I did not want to miss quote anything that was being said. So I just reposted their words.

I know there are people with in the organization that believe climbing should only be done with a guide just like Europe. That is what the rest of the climbing community needs to keep their eyes on.

There are two quiets that you need to be concerned about.

“The AMGA, he added, is actively lobbying legislators “at a DC level” to encourage them to establish a directive that applies to all national parks.”

And
“so there has been contention around who should have access—guide services or individuals.”


The AMGA is looking to get laws passed to have only there guide companies have access to the mountains. Every climber needs to be concerned about any organization trying to carve out exclusive use of mountains. If you think this still is a terrible post you can always keep climbing in a gym.


majid_sabet


Dec 17, 2013, 1:56 PM
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Re: [madrasrock] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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AMGA=Mafia










I'll prefer to die by mobs rather than AMGAs. Mobs will never abandon their clients


socalclimber


Dec 17, 2013, 2:48 PM
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Re: [madrasrock] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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Good. Glad to hear you haven't fallen under their spell. The original classes they offered for guides were fine, but once they started branching out with that worthless Top Rope Mgt cert and then converted it into the Single Pitch Instructor cert, it all went to hell in a hand basket. I know a number of people who have that worthless cert. They have absolutely no business guiding. Maybe in another 10 years or so, but not now.

The AMGA is in process of gaining a total chock hold on the industry. It's pathetic. Being AMGA certified does not make you a good guide.


jmeizis


Dec 17, 2013, 5:58 PM
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Re: [madrasrock] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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I don't think the AMGA's goal is to limit access to individuals. It's just to gain access for guides in the US. Right now certain companies have monopolies. RMNP, Tetons, Yosemite, Rainier, Denali, and that's just a few.

Unfortunately a lot of land use in the US is based off the user day system. This takes into account public use. So if there is more public use then they can use that as a reason to not allow more guiding access. So maybe, since guides are their constituents, they care more about that. That seems reasonable.

Europe has a much better system, from what I understand, where access is based on credentials. If you have the certification, you can guide there. That doesn't mean you're required to have a guide or that access by the public is limited except when another party is on a route (guided or not).

Whether that's what you got from it and whether that's what individual members believe are two different things. I don't think individual access should be limited. I don't think guided access should be limited either. I do think that there should be some minimum requirements to be a guide. Just like there are minimum requirements to cut hair or drive a car.


JohnCook


Dec 18, 2013, 10:38 AM
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Re: [jmeizis] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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In Europe, even when there is another party on the route that doesn't restrict you. If you are quick you overtake, if slow you get overtaken.
To be a guide in Europe is a difficult thing. Each country has it's own rules, which are aimed at making sure that guides are very able and also to try to restrict the job of guiding to the nationals of the country involved.
I have never used a guide or had my movements restricted in anyway in Europe. In fact guides have been most helpful, and also asked for help. (They had completed a pitch with a client, and the third in the party had decided to freeze. Could I help motivate the client!)
The mountains do not close, unlike the USA where they are the butt of Government action. There are no 'Park Patrols' asking if you are 'qualified/have the correct equipment/have a certificate/credentials/etc!. Occasionally the 'authorities will clamp down on wild camping if the situation demands it (Valley Blanche when the number of tents exceeds acceptable limits and the place looks/smells like a toilet! But even then all you have to do is go collect your kit from the gendarmerie!)
Climbing in Europe is much less restricted than the USA.


pdpcardsfan


Dec 18, 2013, 2:38 PM
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Re: [socalclimber] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees this. I've seen AMGA single pitch certified instructors set up top ropes thru rap rings, belay while sitting on their ass, and even guide on private land without the owners consent.


roninthorne


Dec 19, 2013, 12:12 PM
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Re: [pdpcardsfan] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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Have seen these guys guiding at Franklin, which is private, which their clients didn't know. Have never seen one of them do trail work outside their own crag. After hearing from half a dozen people that you can scream your way out of failing TR and Single Pitch cert, I really can't see how they are making things better. They are just perpetuating a monopoly they don't deserve to have over certification, IMO.


stagg54


Dec 19, 2013, 2:26 PM
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Re: [majid_sabet] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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AMGA => MPA - Mountain Pimp Association.


deltav


Dec 19, 2013, 8:16 PM
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Re: [madrasrock] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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Just to be upfront: I do not work for the AMGA, but I am certified through them.

Just because one or two guides use rap rings as anchors does not mean that they all do. I see people of all backgrounds make stupid and dangerous mistakes. IMO, the AMGA simply seeks to minimize this, at least when it comes to professionals. We have minimum standards for drivers, vets, etc. Why not have minimum standards for the people that take our kids climbing at summer camp? Sure, some guides break the rules and some are tools. But generally speaking, the ones that I know really just want to share their passion with others. In regards to crying your way out of failing an assessment, that is total BS. You either pass or fail, and I have seen more than plenty fail. When the AMGA certifies someone, they are putting their name and reputation on the line. Why would they want someone guiding with their backing that could potential hurt a client? What the AMGA doesn't certify is a person's character. That is why there are certified guides out there who are jerks. They showed proficiency in teaching climbing skills and safe guiding practices. The AMGA isn't big brother who watches every move that a guide makes after they are certified.
In regard to access, I don't think they want to have a monopoly on access. What they want is responsible and safe guiding on public lands so that the government doesn't step in and regulate. Once that happens, who know what kinds of regulations will come about. I am pretty sure the AMGA will never seek to limit access for recreational climbers.

Now flame away


jmeizis


Dec 19, 2013, 10:45 PM
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Re: [deltav] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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It's interesting that people have a negative encounter with a guide (always an SPI, which is apparently branded on their heads) and blame the AMGA. What about blaming the guide who apparently ignored part of what they were taught in their course or the employer who failed to have or make sure their guides adhered to policies regarding toproping thru anchors or on private land without permission?

The SPI is the first of 15 other courses/exams that one needs to take in this country to be recognized as a guide by most of the rest of the world. So why do people want to jump all over people who have the very least amount of training?

Socal is right, a certification does not a guide make. Just like a drivers license does not a good driver make. What it does do is make sure they understand the basic laws and practices of the profession. To become good at it you need practice. Right now the only requirement to be a guide in this country is to have been climbing at least a year and have a CPR certification. This is the only requirement because this is all insurers require and the only thing most permiters require is insurance which is relatively cheap. I imagine the worst certified guide is still safer than the worst uncertified one. So why should anyone who's gone to the gym a couple times, spent $30 at The Red Cross, and has an extra grand or so lying around be allowed to be a guide? Why do hair stylists need to be licensed but guides don't?

Even so the AMGA doesn't have a lock on certifications. You don't even need certifications here and there's always the PCIA or PCGI. The only circumstance where they have a monopoly is if you want to guide internationally because they're the only certifying organization recognized by the IFMGA. Of course that's not saying much because as far as I know every member country of the IFMGA only has one certifying organization. So why does it make sense to have a bunch of certifying organizations if only one can be recognized internationally?


socalclimber


Dec 20, 2013, 5:16 AM
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Re: [jmeizis] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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Well you bring up some good points. But there is a ripple in the waters of your argument that quickly turn into waves.

Here's the problem with the SPI cert. The AMGA has setup a program where guide schools can enroll one of it's guides who holds the higher cert to become an accredited AMGA teacher. Then, they in turn can now offer the course and the cert to their prospective clients. This all works great on paper. This is a potential cash cow. The SPI course is running roughly $800/person. You get 3 to 5 people to sign up for this and bingo the owner of said guide school is having a pretty profitable day.

There is nothing worse for a guide school than a disgruntled client. So little Johnny who wants his SPI cert. signs up for the class. Little Johnny is in no way shape or form ready for this class. Still, the school feels forced into passing little Johnny and giving him his cert because they don't want little Johnny running around spewing negative comments about his not passing the test on the Internet and elsewhere. Think I'm wrong? Guess again, I've seen it happen. People don't want to spend that kind of money only to end up not passing the test.

Now they have their AMGA super secret decoder ring. Now they are eligible to work as a "guide". Some guide schools will only let them work with large groups with senior guides running the show. Other schools will hire just about anyone and consider the cert more than enough despite the fact the person in question is in no way ready to be taking clients out on their own. We have a school out here who is part of the PCGIA that will just about hire anyone. It's no different.

Certifications do not replace qualifications. You could point the finger at the guide schools, but the real root of the problem starts with organizations like the AMGA and the PCGIA. They are the ones who started this whole mess.

That's the problem with the SPI cert. It's flawed from conception.


Partner epoch
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Dec 20, 2013, 12:43 PM
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Re: [socalclimber] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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socalclimber wrote:
So little Johnny who wants his SPI cert. signs up for the class. Little Johnny is in no way shape or form ready for this class. Still, the school feels forced into passing little Johnny and giving him his cert because they don't want little Johnny running around spewing negative comments about his not passing the test on the Internet and elsewhere. Think I'm wrong? Guess again, I've seen it happen. People don't want to spend that kind of money only to end up not passing the test.

I'm only going to focus on this statement.

The guide company who takes on the participant of the course should only feel obligated to teach the requisite skills of the course; if they feel the individual does not meet the standards that are tested to, they are obligated to tell the individual that they can't test or will be delayed testing until a later date when they are ready. I have seen this first-had with folks in the institution I used to work for, when the management threw unqualified bodies into a course to try to fill a quota. 6 of us went into the initial course (before SPI or PCIA) and only 2 of us passed. Three of them were denied testing, and one was on the edge and was allowed to test as well. Years later I have talked with several providers and as I understand it, just because you take a course does not mean that the instructor/examiner is obligated to grant you the certification. In-fact there are standard apprentice guiding days in the higher programs that are required prior to testing for certification.

If a guide or company is passing individuals who should otherwise not be certified, you can always complain to the AMGA directly instead of bitching on a third-party website about it. A company who is guilty of that should be more afraid of the potential of losing their accreditation than potentially losing clients/course customers because they failed to pass an individual who wasn't at the standard the certification called for. I have no problem working with a guide who adheres to the standards and refuses to certify individuals. I'd trust that company or individual more than the one who doesn't.

I do, however, agree that having a certification does not a guide make. Also, there are some damn fine guides out there that aren't AMGA.


(This post was edited by epoch on Dec 20, 2013, 4:15 PM)


jmeizis


Dec 21, 2013, 12:53 AM
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Re: [socalclimber] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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I think a dead client might be worse than a disgruntled one, then again they won't be complaining!

I still think focusing on the SPI is to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

How is someone looking for a guide supposed to know they're qualified? Because they've been climbing for 50 years? There are plenty of climbers who've been climbing a long time who are unsafe. Someone who is a good climber isn't necessarily a good guide either. Right now practically anyone can be a guide. Whether they're awesome at it or terrible. Nobody can tell the difference because there are absolutely no laws or regulations for guiding.

Maybe the SPI is not ideal but does that mean all certifications are without merit? Certification isn't meant to replace qualification. It's meant to promulgate a standard by which all guides can be held. If there are no baseline standards then how can guides, guide services, etc be compared?

If you break your leg who do you want to work on it. A board certified doctor or some guy who says they've fixed a lot of broken legs in fifty years? A certified doctor might not have a lot of experience but at least their skills have actually been verified against a standard. Wherein if they fail to meet that standard they can be removed from the profession. At least if the doctor cripples you then at least you have some recourse.

What about with guides. If you screw up, who's going to stop you from guiding? What recourse does a layman have against someone claiming to be a guide? The reasonable person standard is pretty difficult if there isn't actually an industry agreed upon standard. Belay palms up or down? Figure eight or bowline? 2 piece anchor, 3 piece, 12 piece? What makes a good piece? Certifications are just as much for the client as the guide.

I don't think the AMGA started the mess. It was those damn euros with their IFMGA. Then again the profession is much more respected and much higher paid there so it seems like there may be some benefits to this whole certification thing.


deltav


Dec 21, 2013, 7:07 AM
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Re: [jmeizis] AMGA and Access [In reply to]
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Even at the SPI level, the course and the exam are separate programs. If somehow you are able to register for the exam after being told not to, then it is completely on you if you fail. I have seen multiple people fail the exams and even be asked to leave the course due to unsafe practices. As said above, if people are being passed on without earning it, then the certifying organizations need to notified immediately.


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