Monday, December 10, 2012

October out West

This October, I had the privilege to take a western road trip with some help from North Carolina Outward Bound.  The itinerary included a few major plans:  tons of rock climbing near Las Vegas, Nevada at the world-class Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, attending the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Annual Meeting, and presenting at the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education conference. 

Susan following the pitch 5 crux of "Birdland" (III 5.7), high above the floor of Pine Creek Canyon
The journey began with a two and a half day drive from Asheville, North Carolina to the Red Rock campground located on the outskirts of Vegas.  The main objective for the rock climbing portion of the trip was to climb lots of long, tall routes.  While a simple goal, the particular routes climbed were carefully selected to best help prepare me take the AMGA Rock Guide Course and Aspirant Exam in April of 2013.  My wife Susan, a fellow NCOBS staff, and I had the opportunity to climb some outstanding routes, including the classic “Black Orpheus” (5.10a IV) and “Dark Shadows” (5.8 IV). 
Leading out on pitch 4 of "Dark Shadows" (IV 5.8)
A few days into our adventure, the AMGA 3-day Annual Meeting began.  I had the opportunity to socialize, network, and learn with literally world-class mountain guides trained to the highest level offered by any organization on the planet.  Needless to say, I was a bit intimidated by the attendance of some “big names” in the industry.  Luckily, another NCOBS staff, Ron Funderburke, was also in attendance and able to show me the ropes.  Perhaps best of all, I was afforded unique professional development through clinics, meetings, and round tables focused on technical skills like short roping, soft skills such as stress management, and administrative issues such as access, permits, guest guiding, and land use and management plans.

After the meeting adjourned, Susan and I climbed a few more days before I dropped her off at McCarrin International Airport for her flight back home to Asheville.  I stayed another day or two in Vegas to climb with some friends from Colorado before driving up to Snowbird, Utah for the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education conference.  There, Ashley Gray, a former NCOBS instructor, and I presented to a packed room about diversity and inclusion curriculum in outdoor programming.  I also got to meet plenty of great students and encourage them to come on our courses and join our staff.  The crux of the whole trip, though, was the drive back east through 35 inches of snow fall!

On the shoulder of Rainbow Mountain atop "Black Orpheus" (IV 5.10a)

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