This story is written by Takeshi Tani.
|Backcountry Skiing in Youteizann|
If you have already known what an ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) Guide is, probably this story would just repeat what you have already known. When the majority of people hear that I make a living by working as an Alpine Guide, most likely, their response would be the same both in Japan and North America.
From their response, I can tell that they think, " Oh, that must be a seasonal job...can't afford to live by that..."
Well, to a certain extent, that's true. I used to work as a custodian at a few huts and it was a seasonal job. Karasawa in summer and Hakuba or Niseko in winter. This is a typical lifestyle in order to make a living by working in a mountain industry in Japan. Also, I used to practice mountain rescue and just to be qualified to be a member, I was required to rent a place in that area so I can be considered to be local. I remember renting an apartment knowing that I would only live there for a month in a whole year.
However, some people would think I could stay in one mountain area and settle down there.
The difficult part of that idea is that in order to seek for the best for your career, you need to move from one place to the other as nature changes each season and the same location won't be the best option all year around.
In Canada, the same thing can be said as well. In the areas that boast great quality and quantity of powder snow in winter, you may encounter limitations of job market during summer. Like many outdoor enthusiasts' dreams, spending summer in Squamish then moving to Revelstoke or Nelson in winter sounds like a dream life but splitting life into two parts while working, and continue to do the same things many years to come would become a depressing idea eventually. Also developing a sense of community and contributing something to the area where you live would be almost impossible.
Of course, there are some places that are exceptions. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in France and Zermatt in Switzerland. These places attract people all year around. Those places are actually extremely rare case even when we see at the world level. This reality makes most of the Guides to work as a Ski Guide during winter.
|Teaching an ice climbing is another way to be a Guide in winter|
Now, get back to the main topic of being an Alpine Guide. Actually, you can work in Banff and Canmore area for a whole year! This is actually the best place for you to keep working as a Guide in winter without becoming a Ski Guide. As long as you become an Alpine Guide, you can take clients to a mountain as an Ice Climbing Guide. Combination of lower temperature and small precipitation of Banff area might not be an ideal spot for powder snow and Backcountry skiing but on the flip side, it creates perfect conditions for ice climbing. As a matter of fact, other than Glacier Skiing in spring, most of the ACMG Ski Guide wouldn't work in Banff area. One of the best ice climbing areas in the world, Banff national park. If you become an Alpine Guide here, you can take clients to the Rockies, glacier hiking, and Bugaboo. This allows you to settle down in the area and work all year around. Also, good side of this story is that since you are working all year round you can receive pension and all those insurance stuff( Adulting...Haha) which I believe this isn't strong suit for most of the Mountaineers (but in reality, it's very important to keep on climbing and going for trips). This allows you to do what you love to do and at the same time one less thing to worry about.
|A gorgeous day and you can call this as your workplace (Above) Bugaboo BC Canada|
|Enjoying ice climbing under a breathtaking view of Aurora|
Now I hope this story changed your perspectives toward an Alpine Guide in Canada. Nevertheless, I am planning to take a Ski Guide exam this winter. It's mainly because of my curiosity and my hobby. However, this is very competitive.They take 20x of applications for candidates quota. This makes just passing the initial documents screening process quite hard. It's very common to hear that people take 3-5 years just to pass the initial screening. In Canada, you can do a variety of skiing. Heli-Ski and Cat Ski to name a few, so the popularity is totally understandable.
Extra info: Some people would ask where would be a good place to work as a Guide in Japan. Personally, I recommend Kamikouchi area(Nagano) which attracts skiers, ice climbers, and alpine climbers. It's not the greatest climbing area in summer but at least they have a great climbing gym.
Asahikawa area (Hokkaido) has also its charms. Fewer people. You can climb in Seigankyo, ice climbing in Souunkyou, mix-climbing in Kamui-Iwa and Back Country Skiing in Furano area. These areas don't have higher mountains but they do have a great selection of activities.Now I hope you understand the perks of living in Banff area as an Alpine Guide and how the area allows us to work all year around.
I strongly believe a place can form people and their lifestyle, so when you think about your future, try to think about your ideal place, job, and lifestyle. This might help you find the best place that works for you the most!
Translated by Yumiko Mori