Guide Skills

January 22, 2015

Namaste! I hope you are all well. We had another incredible weather day here in the heart of the Himalayas. We’ve been fortunate so far with our weather; we’ll see if it holds.

Climbing instruction continued today but some additional components of the training were begun today, too. Two of our groups of 8 Basic Climbing students as well as a Lead and Assistant Instructor remained in Phortse for 2 of those classes. The goal of these day-long segments is for our students to learn some of the “softer”, but essential, guiding skills. In many ways, these additional skills are even more valuable than the climbing as many of our students will never work in the high mountains but will be trekking guides. I reminded the students at the opening ceremony that they are not guiding mountains, they are guiding¬†people.

Alexa Lindauer of CA and OR is teaching our first-aid/medical course, a 1-day crash course for our students. One of the local English teachers helped all day as an interpreter which was very beneficial. Our medical course was begun more than a decade ago by our friend, Dr. Luann Freer, of Bozeman. Luann is better known as the doctor who started Everest ER, the seasonal medical clinic at Everest Basecamp. (As an aside, if you ever get a chance to hear her presentation on how she got started, be sure to go. She’s fabulous.) For the past several years, the KCC medical component has been taught by Dr. Nima Sherpa and Chandre Ale, a wilderness EMT and instructor. Neither is able to be with us this year but Alexa is ably teaching the course. From what I observed today she and the students are having a great time as well as being quite productive. A day is a short time to learn a lot of first-aid but hopefully the intense 9-hour session can be of use to both our students and their future clients.

Today was also the first day of our Mountain Environment component taught by Krishna Gopal Shrestha and Dr. Rob Thomas (geology colleague and close friend of mine). Rob and Krishna began this program in 2011 and it continues to evolve as we learn more about what is useful, practical, and interesting to our students. The Mtn Env group spent the morning learning about reading topographical maps, relating the maps to the surrounding topography, and compass use. The afternoon is spent outside investigating cloud types and weather, mountain and glacial topography, and recognizing natural hazards such as landslides, areas of flash flooding, etc. Rob and Krishna also give an evening slide show on natural hazards and how best to avoid them. The 35 or so students and instructors at last nights presentation were full of questions and made Krishna earn his keep! Great evening.

One other component, not yet begun today, is Client Care. Our instructors will work with their groups for a day emphasizing many basics of keeping clients happy in the mountains: warmth, hydration, blister prevention and treatment, local flora and fauna, etc. The real hook for our students is the suggestion that these good skills keep clients happy, and happy clients give bigger tips!

I have a few more details to work on before dinner followed by an evening avalanche education film.

All the best,

Steve