The Belmont Hill Guide-in-Training Trip with Irwin Guides of Crested Butte Colorado teaches rising juniors and seniors outdoor skills such as mountaineering, whitewater rafting and paddling, rock climbing, and snow climbing. The week-long trip also consisted of stand-up paddleboarding down whitewater rapids, climbing the “Guide’s Ridge”, and summiting Ruby Mountain.
This year’s students included Teddy Morrow, Liam Durbin, Thacher Formisano, Andrew Hart, and our faculty leader Mr. Holland. Our trip was challenging, but in a good way, forcing all of us to push ourselves and each other and step outside of our comfort zone, whether it be taking front seat in the raft on the upper Taylor River, getting over that last overhang while rock climbing, or braving significant exposure on the Guide’s Ridge while trusting our fellow Guides-in-Training to keep us safe while short-roped. In this way the trip was also very effective at fostering a sense of community among the group, despite the short time period we spent in Colorado. This was especially prevalent at our campsite, in which we boys all had to work together to make dinner, an essential meal that would fuel us for whatever our guides, Billy and Dave, had planned for the following day.
Rafting was also especially effective at creating a sense of brotherhood and community. Unless we all paddled in unison, and all paddled as hard as we could without any “lillydipping”, we may not have made it down the river safely. A strong trust was also created between us boys, from instances such as having to trust a fellow Guide-in-Training to have you on belay while climbing, or while short-roped on the Guide’s Ridge. There was also a general sense of shared accomplishment, found following most of the activities that we undertook, knowing that we had just braved that rapid we were looking back at, or had just completed that pitch that had looked so daunting a half an hour ago.
I think that Teddy most perfectly captured this when looking back on Ruby mountain after we completed the snow ascent, specifically at the snow field that had taken us so long to kick steps in and climb. Teddy looked back on this immense mountain and simply said: “No way, dude. No way we just climbed that!” I think we were all feeling the same way looking back on Ruby. We all learned many valuable skills on this trip, most notably the ability to read water and guide a raft, but also mountaineering skills such as kicking steps, reading a fall line, and self-arresting. Billy, Dave, and the rest of the guides that helped along the way were also extremely impressive in their immense knowledge of the activity of the day, or of the local flora and fauna, and of Crested Butte in general.
It was very clear why Eleven and Irwin Guides, our guides during the trip, are considered to be the premier guiding company in the world. I would absolutely recommend this trip to anyone interested, no matter your experience in mountains and rivers.