Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
Jens

Mountaineers Leaders?

Recommended Posts

It's interesting to me that Jason, who isn't even a member of the Mountaineers from what I infer from his post, just stated more in their defense, and more eloquently, than many of the previous posts from their own members.

 

He didn't even have to call us "punks" to get his point across, either!?!? tongue.gif

 

Well put, Jason. Thanks for the thoughts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's interesting to me that Jason, who isn't even a member of the Mountaineers from what I infer from his post, just stated more in their defense, and more eloquently, than many of the previous posts from their own members.

 

There have been many verbal attacks (some quite nasty) on the Mountaineers on CascadeClimbers. Therefore, club members may feel defensive. And the best defense is a good offense (someone once said.)

 

Quite simple, really.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's quite simple, for sure, if what you want to do is exchange insults and foster more defensiveness...

 

If your goal is to foster any sort of heightened understanding, communication, or (gasp) even risk changing someone's outlook on a much-maligned and historically stereotyped organization, then posts like Selkirk's and Jason's go further to accomplish that than shopworn, garden-variety insults do.

 

Would you disagree with that concept?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What do I know. I learned through a club about ten years ago, then learned even more helping teach some of the basic skills the following couple years. I have since been out on my own for many years and do very little the same way that I learned from them, but it was still a great course to keep me alive while I learned better skills and adapted my own style and preferences.

 

I spend a lot of time out climbing and always watch to see what others are doing. I often believe that I can tell the club climbers from the non-club just by watching their styles. I would say that the worst habits I have seen out at the crags are from people who were obviously not club trained. The only two real “assholes” I have encountered in the hills have both been guides with their clients. I have encountered numerous club people who seem to believe that there is only one right way to do things, but I understand that is merely a product of trying to teach a basic set of skills to a large group of people; and tolerate their limited vision of the many safe possibilities. Most of the club people are great people, with a jerk sprinkled in occasionally. Most non-club people are great people, with a jerk sprinkled in occasionally

 

Seems like peace, tolerance, and brotherhood would get us a long way in the world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Goatboy,

 

Weren't you the one who went poking through the mounties website to find something to make fun of them about?

 

Yes, I think you were.

 

rolleyes.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr Phil,

 

Please see your PM's for more context on your last post.

 

And no, contrary to your interpretation, I didn't go to their website in order to find something to make fun of - though I did in fact post something here which was in poor taste. I apologize(d) for that - and I did delete that post a long time ago.

 

Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good idea, but I wish it were that easy, Chris. I think that if we "forbade" instructing until already two years into the program, we'd probably have an even harder time finding sufficient volunteers to instruct! Also if you have ideas for incentives to keep the good instructors coming back year after year...

In medical school they have a saying about the teaching/learning of various procedures:

 

"watch one - do one - teach one"

 

There is nothing better than teaching to make your own skills stronger. They are teaching basic skills after all, not hardcore advanced alpinism. tongue.gif

 

Perhaps Maestro has a better idea. The instructors should be required to observe one Basic Climbing Course before teaching it.

 

Gary,

 

The common opinion on this thread is that the Mountaineers have unqualified instructors teaching students in the basic course. Its not the students responisbility to distinguish between qualified and unqualified instructors amongst an organization. Its the organization's responsibility. If you want to do something about it, there needs to be more requirements to teach the Basic Climbing Course than just having attended the Basic Climbing Course.

 

If a year is too long, than don't use a year. Jesus, man, you asked for suggestions and I gave them.

 

Here's a more concrete example:

To teach the Basic Climbing Course, you need to have:

 

1. Passed the Basic Climbing Course no sooner than 6 months ago

2. 20 days climbing since the Basic Course - this averages to less than two weekends a month, and documentation will use an honor system for validity - believe us, it will be apparent who has padded their books!

3. Climbed at least three II routes or longer since the Basic Course

4. Lead at least 3 trad climbs of at least 5.6 since the Basic Course

5. At least two days of glacier travel since the Basic Course.

 

Now, I don't know what someone who has finished the Basic Course is actually expected to be able to do. Just consider requiring SOMETHING like this...

 

And watch what words you use - you don't FORBID someone, you simply have PREREQUISITES.

You have some good ideas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good idea, but I wish it were that easy, Chris. I think that if we "forbade" instructing until already two years into the program, we'd probably have an even harder time finding sufficient volunteers to instruct! Also if you have ideas for incentives to keep the good instructors coming back year after year...

In medical school they have a saying about the teaching/learning of various procedures:

 

"watch one - do one - teach one"

 

There is nothing better than teaching to make your own skills stronger. They are teaching basic skills after all, not hardcore advanced alpinism. tongue.gif

 

Perhaps Maestro has a better idea. The instructors should be required to observe one Basic Climbing Course before teaching it.

 

Gary,

 

The common opinion on this thread is that the Mountaineers have unqualified instructors teaching students in the basic course. Its not the students responisbility to distinguish between qualified and unqualified instructors amongst an organization. Its the organization's responsibility. If you want to do something about it, there needs to be more requirements to teach the Basic Climbing Course than just having attended the Basic Climbing Course.

 

If a year is too long, than don't use a year. Jesus, man, you asked for suggestions and I gave them.

 

Here's a more concrete example:

To teach the Basic Climbing Course, you need to have:

 

1. Passed the Basic Climbing Course no sooner than 6 months ago

2. 20 days climbing since the Basic Course - this averages to less than two weekends a month, and documentation will use an honor system for validity - believe us, it will be apparent who has padded their books!

3. Climbed at least three II routes or longer since the Basic Course

4. Lead at least 3 trad climbs of at least 5.6 since the Basic Course

5. At least two days of glacier travel since the Basic Course.

 

Now, I don't know what someone who has finished the Basic Course is actually expected to be able to do. Just consider requiring SOMETHING like this...

 

And watch what words you use - you don't FORBID someone, you simply have PREREQUISITES.

You have some good ideas.

 

To me this seem this would be an extreme minimum of what should be required. The way I look at it, an instructor is taking on the role of a guide. I don't know of any guiding organization that would accept the above as prerequisite for guiding.

 

When I was learning to climb I didn't learn from a guide or an orgainzation. I learned through friends, but it was with friends that had a lot of experience. I wasn't to keen on going climbing with other beginners. What I am getting at, is that it not only the organization that is responsible for having quality trainers, but also those who are taking the course to make sure that they are getting quality training.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems to me that it's not always right to equate "instructor" and "guide."

 

Many guides INSTRUCT on their climbs - AAI has their NW Mountain School, extended trips aimed more at skill instruction than on summitting...

 

Other guides (usually on shorter trips) are pretty much aimed at getting their group of paying clients to the top and back again safely.

 

Some Instructors (i.e. NOLS or Outward Bound) primarily aim at teaching skills, and occasionally go into "guide mode" when summitting a peak beyond their students' ability to lead the way...

 

BUT it's more common that Instructing can look, and encompass different skills, than Guiding...

 

It's possible that to INSTRUCT mountaineering requires MORE skills than GUIDING mountaineering does -- it depends, however, on the complexity of skills that you're instructing, the skill level of the participants, the environment you're doing it in...

 

I think it's entirely possible that a beginner course could be taught by someone with (approximately) the level of skill which is outlined above...or, it could be disastrous if they overstep their skill level and go into terrain, or identify course objectives, beyond their ability to manage.

 

But the IDEA of having clearly outlined minimum criteria or qualifications for instructors is obviously a good one, if it hasn't already been implemented...

 

My two cents...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree - guiding is not instructing, and instructing is not guiding. There are some skill commonalities, and some guides do not make good instructors, just as some instructors do not make good guides.

 

Guiding also encompasses many many technical skills that an Outdoor Educator would never instruct or use themselves.

An Outdoor Educator instruction encompasses many teaching skills that a guide would never use themselves.

 

Its a distinction that is not made often enough or clearly enough in the United States, but is much more popularly understood elsewhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree and disagree with you both. First yes there is a distinction between guides and instructors, though it is fine sometimes, they are not the same. What I was thinking was more along the lines of guide being hired as instructor. This a role has been in practice, proabably as long as guiding has been around. Forget all of the other reasons why one person would hire a guide just for the sake of discussion.

 

My point is that I still don't think what was outlined for experience would be sufficient for most guiding services let alone any other organization that offers climbing instuction (say like Outward Bound or Nols).

 

Also with the Mountaineers, the line is crossed from instructor to guide when it comes time to do some real climbing. Is the new climber to expect to be completely self reliant or do they expect that the lessons will continue? Are they epected to be a partner to the instructor they're first time on the rock, let alone the next several outings?

 

I know for myself that I didn't know crap the first couple of times out on the rock, even though I had studied and practice with my friends. My friends that were teaching me to climb, were essentially guiding me, even when it came time for me to go on the pointy end, they still helped me get safely to the top.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My personal experience is that I'm hired as an instructor much less often than I would expect - especially since my guide service advertises that I'm a trained and experienced NOLS instructor. Last summer I was hired specifically for instruction once out of 40+ days of work. Then again, I might just suck.smirk.gif

 

More often my clients ask me to take advantage of teachable moments as time allows on our climb. While this is instruction the work is still rooted in guiding, so I don't make the same time management, routefinding, terrain and weather decision as I would if I were instructing.

 

Professional guides have the AMGA for standards, but I wish that professional outdoor educators had something equivalent. I think NOLS is perfectly positioned to provide that, and they already offer courses in Outdoor Educator and Professional Instructor Courses (different from their hiring courses) that are already built. By simply adding a certification standard into the process they'd reach a whole new level.

 

I would even argue that there should be a distinction between the skills sets of professional guides, professional outdoor educators, and volunteer outdoor educators or leaders. I'm really interested in learning more about the British Mountaineering Council's Leader program, which a client was telling me about last summer. It sounded like a national standard for non-professional outdoor leaders, which would apply directly to the Mountaineers and other clubs here in the states. If anyone knows more about this program in the BMC and if something like it could actually work in the states, I'd like to hear about it.

 

P.S. I agree with you Ken, the criteria I outlined above isn't sufficient for taking the entry-level AMGA course, to be hired for any guide service or by NOLS/OB. But Gary was asking for suggestions to help with quality control in the instructor corps for the Mountaineers Basic Climbing Course, and my sugestion was that criteria like what I outlined may possibly raise the standard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Erden, when he was on the Seattle Branch Climbing Committee, was looking into getting additional training for certain key instructors. He thought the way to go was AMGA. In the end it didn't happen.

 

I looked into AMGA myself and it seemed to me that the courses were all offerred in distant places, were very costly and didn't even emphasize the sorts of skills we were looking for. I decided that AMGA training was not the way to go.

 

I'd be interested to learn what NOLS has to offer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MtnFreak, out of curiousity, what do you think the more critical aspect of the AMGA certification and required body of experience is, as applied to teaching? Is that much larger body of experience necessary to know what skills are important to teach in a comprehensive manner, or how to teach the skills?

 

My instinct is that it's the what to teach, that requires so much experience, not the how to teach it. I'd like to know if I'm wrong though.

 

One big distinction, between hiring a guide or having your buddies take you out and teach you, and learning through the club is who is making the decisions about what is important.

 

For your buddies, or the guide, they're flying solo. They had better have enough experience and knowledge to know what all you need to learn, and not forget anything critical. There is no way a first year intermediate has the knowledge set to completely guide someone elses climbing education, they don't have nearly enough experience. However they're not expected to. That's why the "Mountaineers Way" is taught. The climbing committee has been developing and evaluating the minimum set of skills necessary to be safe in the mountains for longer than I've been alive, and it's this body of experience that's determining the "what to teach". The intermediates are only expected to be able to do the "how to teach part", and I think they do a pretty good job. The how part pretty well mirrors, the med school thing previously mentioned. Watch one, do a bunch in a controlled setting under supervision, do a few in a wild setting where you and your partner are responsible for checking each other, then demonstrate one to a basic, and watch and offer advice while they practice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Outward Bound also offers professional-level Outdoor Educator and Wilderness Instructor Training Courses (separate and distinct from their own in-house training for newly-hired staff). Being Outward Bound, it's probably more balanced between teaching skills, facilitating groups, and the technical wilderness skills being covered.

 

I imagine that the NOLS course touches on all of those aspects but emphasizes the technical skills aspect more than the others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a big distinction between Guides and Climb leaders is the support structure. A guide is expected to fly solo, so he needs enough experience to do so, and take care of his group. A climb leader share the responsibility with his party (intermediates who have been climbing for a year or two, and the basics who are just learning). The big reason that there is a set of basic skill requirements that students have to demonstrate prior to going out on climbs is that the climb leaders aren't guides. They need to know that the basics can be trusted to support the climb.

 

A second point, is that there's a reason that basic climbs travel in groups of anywhere between 4 and 6 on rock climbs and 6 and 12 on glacier climbs. It's not expected that each basic climber will be completely self sufficient. There is also a good reason that the basic climbs are technically straightforward. They're taught (and tested) on enough skills than they can safely go into the field as well as provide some support (belaying, breaking down anchors, crevasse rescue assistance). So the balance of a very experienced climb leader, several intermediate students of various skill levels, group size of 4+, and moderate objectives ends up providing a safe climbing format. It's not fast, it's not elegant, but it is safe.

 

Ken, it seems to me that the friends who taught you, and the Mountaineers climb leaders aren't truly guides, but mentors. It's a bit of a fine distinction. But they were both sharing their knowledge and experience because they enjoyed it and they wanted you to learn to climb. They're not paid (occasional beers don't count). They're not professionals. Hell they're not even experts. But they have a body of knowledge which is safe, and greater than yours that they're willing to share. On their first climbs they probably took you up technically easy trade routes that were below your technical climbing ability, so that the chance of accidents was greatly minimized.

 

Cheers all!

bigdrink.gif

 

Oh and Mtn Freak, if you come up with any info on the British Council standards thing, please to share it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should mention that one of the things we're looking at is bringing in guides to teach certain advanced courses. Actually we did do that for one of our Small Party Self Rescue Course modules- Crevasse Rescue (small party)- we brought in an AAI guide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Erden, when he was on the Seattle Branch Climbing Committee, was looking into getting additional training for certain key instructors. He thought the way to go was AMGA. In the end it didn't happen.

 

I looked into AMGA myself and it seemed to me that the courses were all offerred in distant places, were very costly and didn't even emphasize the sorts of skills we were looking for. I decided that AMGA training was not the way to go.

 

I'd be interested to learn what NOLS has to offer.

 

CBS, Keep checking the AMGA schedule...the new curriculum allows local accredited guide services to "sponsor" the basic-level AMGA courses, similar to how WMI and AIARE run their courses. The AMGA already runs the basic Alpine Guides Course and Ski Guides Course here in the North Cascades - it won't be long before someone sponsors an AMGA Rock Instructor Course at Smith.

 

And if you go look up NOLS at www.nols.edu, use its search engine to find "outdoor educator" and "professional instructor course". I couldn't find the PIC just by clicking selections.

 

MtnFreak, out of curiousity, what do you think the more critical aspect of the AMGA certification and required body of experience is, as applied to teaching? Is that much larger body of experience necessary to know what skills are important to teach in a comprehensive manner, or how to teach the skills?

 

My instinct is that it's the what to teach, that requires so much experience, not the how to teach it. I'd like to know if I'm wrong though.

 

I don't think that the "much larger body of experience" of professional guides and outdoor educators is necessarily required to teach basic skills, but it certainly helps. With that experience comes confidence and efficiency. And just as you've observed, the "what" to teach is much more critical. Relevant content, curriculum, and progression subjects are key skills. Good professional guides can read a client's paperwork, interview them during the pack check and hike to determine their wants, and shape a logical curriculum for the time they have. OK, sometimes it takes more than that, but you get my idea. Good outdoor educators have this skill set too, but I think they have far fewer opportunities to need it.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Outdoor Educator Semestor- Cost $11,000. Yikes.

 

Dude, don't get sucked into the semester. Look at the Backpacking Outdoor Educator, the Mountaineering Outdoor Educator, and the Professional Instructor Course (only 16 days).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the response Mtnfreak. That's kind of what I expected.

 

My big point was that the critical part, determining what to teach, isn't carried out by inexperienced climbers, but by very experienced climbers. All of the curriculum, content, and progression skills are managed by the climbing committee. The first year intermediates are really just supervising practice to have another set of slightly more experienced eyes on safety.

 

As for the guides skill in determining a clients, needs, wants, and abilities. To some degree that's taken care of by the course structure. Everyone who comes through the basic class receives the same training, and is tested on knowing the same skills so there is a dependable minimum skill set. It may be higher but it isn't lower. The climbs themselves aren't so much about teaching basic climbers a new skill set, as giving them the opportunity to put into practice their skills, so they can start to develop some confidence and efficiency, in a relatively safe setting.

 

This also goes for the intermediates. They're just practicing a different skill set (route finding, leading etc.) The "teaching time is over", now it's practice time in the reasonably controlled setting offered by trade routes.

 

That's not to say people aren't learning on climbs, but they're not teaching oriented. It's where you start to learn the finer points.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Specifically with regards to technical climbing ability (i.e., how hard can you climb) as a skill I don't think any course out there, esp the mounties, teaches the physical and mental aspects of climbing hard. I find that mountie instructors get wrapped up in the gear and the details of using that gear and completely ignore the fact that they or their students would probably climb harder if they manned up and attempted something over 5.7 or if they got themselves to the gym, lost 50 pounds and worked on getting strong. I think that it would be hard to debate that mountie instructors are poor on their gear skills but its pretty easy to note that for the most part they aren't a strong bunch of climbers. Its kind of hard to learn to climb 5.10 from someone who only climbs 5.7. Disclaimer: I sometimes instruct with the Everett mounties.

Edited by downfall

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Granted. The mounties don't teach a great deal of technique. Pretty much none in the basic course, and very little in the intermediate course. That's not what they were designed to do, and it's not something you could do with a large group. The mountie instructors get "wrapped up" in the gear and details during the basic and intermediate courses because those are the fundamentals and minimum skill sets needed. If you can't use the gear safely (i.e. tie in, belay, rappel, etc) you shouldn't be climbing anything. Even if you can't climb 5.10, you can still climb 5.4 though. Not to mention most folks I know in the mounties aren't interested in climbing hard rock. Their interested in getting out in the wilderness on moderate terrain with good company. Ever read the book Feeding the Rat? Mo Antoine put it well, the best part about climbing is "a good day out with your mates". The rest is just gravy.

 

The other qualifier, is that for those who are interested in "manning-up", they offer seminars in aid, water-ice, friction climbing, crack climbing, (and new last year) advanced crack climbing, and sport climbing. Granted, none of those will get you to lead WI-6, or 5.11+ yada, yada, yada. These are much smaller groups though (5 to 10 people usually) and last anywhere between a weekend and a season. They don't even teach a great deal, but they do offer an opportunity to meet people who are share interests in learning how to climb harder.

 

You might also look at some of my earlier statements. I know some pretty damn strong climbers who teach and lead climbs for the mountaineers.

 

To think of any of the climbing courses as comprehensive is incorrect. They only provide a safe minimum set of skills to get you outside and climbing, and for you to build on as you see fit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems like there's an inherent cultural assumption in the last post (by downfall) that everyone WANTS to climb 5.10 in the mountains and just wish that they could do so, but lack the partners, skills, body fat percentage, or courage to do so...

 

I would say that this assumption, like most, doesn't apply to all climbers, mountaineers or otherwise...though it might certainly apply to many.

 

Just pointing that out that there may be other goals besides climbing hard...like after-climb bigdrink.gif for example! wave.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Selkirk-

I believe part of the issue is that the new instructors have insufficient time to gain experience using the skills they've been taught in a variety of terrain and situations. These are the basic skills they will be expected to pass on to other students. Some experience is necessary - the question is how much, and is the current criteria sufficient.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×