Rod Newcomb receives Lifetime Achievement in Guiding Award.
The AMGA honors Rod Newcomb for a lifetime of significant contributions to the profession of mountain guiding in America. Rod's career as a guide has spanned 42 years. He has worked as an avalanche researcher, consultant and instructor for over three decades and in 1974 founded the American Avalanche Institute.
Mark Newcomb recalls, "I think my Dad climbed the Grand first in 1954, guided it first in 1963. So he must have started working for Glen (Exum) sometime in that period. He first started climbing in Tahquitz, scrambling around in Chuck Taylors climbing the highest point there. And as you know, he's 72 and still guiding the Grand. I imagine he's guided every peak in the Tetons, just about, including some not really in the park. He always told me that you never really need a tent in the Tetons, just a tarp to roll up in, and he used to love to guide Moran by going up the Skillet and down the CMC or vice versa, just sleeping rolled up in a tarp for the two bivouacs".
I first climbed the Grand in 1987 and remember meeting Rod on the trail (having recognized him from several avalanche courses I had taken from AAI) with a group he was guiding up the Exum Ridge. I now have had the privilege of working with Rod in the Tetons over the past 5 seasons. He is truly one of the most humble and spirited guides I know. Rod is a naturalist and passionate about the mountains and sharing his love and knowledge with others. For those of us that guide the Grand all summer, Rod is truly an inspiration. By now, he has well over 400 ascents of the peak.
Rod made the first ascent of the East Buttress of Denali in 1963 with Al Read, Peter Lev, Jed Williamson, Fred Wright and Warren Bleser. He also made the first ski ascent of Mt. Silverthorne in Alaska. In 1978 Glen Exum selected Rod, Al Read, Peter Lev and Dean Moore to buy the business (Exum Mountain Guides) from him and he is still a co-owner.
Rod has been a backcountry skier for over 45 years. He has trained more avalanche professionals and backcountry skiers in avalanche safety than probably any other individual in the U.S. In 2004 Rod was the recipient of the Honorary Membership by the American Avalanche Association, the highest honor given to avalanche researchers and practitioners.
Rod declined the offer to be "grandfathered" as a certified alpine guide by the AMGA in the 90's. These days Rod is very supportive of the AMGA and acknowledges that we are doing a good job and our role in training guides is critical.
Congratulations Rod. "You truly deserve this award and your career is a legacy for us all to aspire to."
Angela Hawse Marmot Athlete and Design Board Member AMGA Board of Directors and Award Committee Chair.