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RMI Guide Zeb Blais Recaps the AMGA Rock Instructor Course

I was a bit worried on my first night at Smith Rock State Park when my Nalgene bottle froze solid over night.  How were we possibly going to climb when it was a struggle just to keep the numbness from our fingers and toes?

I was in Central Oregon for an American Mountain Guide Association Rock Instructor Course with four of my fellow RMI guides: Katie Bono, Levi Kepsel, Elias de Andres Martos, and Solveig Waterfall. All of us were on the ten day course with the aid of the RMI/First Ascent Guide Grant. This educational Grant was established to promote the continued professional development of RMI guides. We were looking forward to that instruction as well as some sunny rock climbing after a long season of guiding in Washington and Alaska but the weather would need to cooperate. 

I had heard that our instructors were hardened veterans of the rock realm, but without some really good tricks this weather seemed like too big a hurdle to overcome. I quickly thought about what my option were and did not come up with much except to kick myself for signing up for a rock course in November.

As it turned out I needn’t have worried. On day one the weather was much warmer than the days of the previous week and the course kicked off without a hitch.  Instructors Dale and Tom brought eons of experience to each day’s lessons. We tried to soak up every bit we could.  The best analogy I could come up with for this was trying to take a drink of water from a fire hose. Every day added another layer of complexity in strategy and technical systems. And the weather kept cooperating!  Day after day we received ominous weather forecasts but the weather never materialized and we climbed for eight days straight! When the snow finally did arrive we had moved indoors for the classroom portion of our course. Perfect timing. 

By the end we all agreed how far we had progressed. We were blown away by the mastery of rock that our instructors possess and thankful that a little rubbed off on us. We can’t wait to put our newfound skills to use guiding next summer in the North Cascades and elsewhere. We hope to see you there!

RMI Guide Zeb Blais


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