One of the big benefits of pursuing professional guide qualifications under the ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) is that it has opened up new working opportunities that before were just not possible. For example, I have been very very fortunate in New Zealand, where I am working for Alpine Guides Limited. They run a number of guiding operations which I thought I’d describe briefly in this blog post. I am still very new in the organization, but so far being part of a tight professional team of guides has added a lot of context and meaning to the avalanche and guide training I’ve taken over the years. And it will certainly make me a much better guide in my home town of Hakuba, Japan. Living and operating in Hakuba is more than great, but professionally it is so valuable to get out into other operational environments, particularly ones which are more demanding than my home zone in Japan.
The following guiding operations all fall under the same umbrella. It is very exciting and quite humbling for me to be associated with such a diverse range of guiding activities.
So far I have spent the most time with Methven Heli – both involved with regular heliskiing, and also heli-accessed ski tour guiding in remote parts of the mountains. And… so far I believe the claims that we ski the best heli ski terrain in NZ. Certainly the mountain area we cover is very large, the options diverse, and sometimes, the runs can be really pretty big. Some would find them a little intimidating. Becoming a good heliski guide takes a few seasons, and I am very lucky to be part of an experienced team. All the other guides have been working here for a long time (a great sign). And a huge percentage of customers are return customers (another great sign). It is important not to forget where I came from and not to take these things for granted.
This is a new take on heli skiing in NZ and the Mount Cook region. The tenure is massive, and involves numerous diverse mountain ranges which helps manage conditions. Besides a day watching over as a film crew did their thing, I have not really been involved with MCHS yet, however the the opportunity is there to be called in to help out with busy days in the future. My Japanese friend, Taichiro (Tai) Naka, guides with them and loves it. He is working on his full mountain guide certification with the NZMGA. If I were a committed heliskier from Europe or North America, I’d be booking 10 days in August or September at the Hermitage in Mt Cook Village and going heli skiing every good day with these guys. It is classic destination heliskiing, with a very experienced guide team in a unique and intense mountain location.