Eastern Mountain Sports Convergence (and Schools Training)

I know I blogged last week about the cool commitment EMS has to training its store employees though the new “Schools to Stores” initiative. That initiative is more of an on-going effort, like the 10 free employee lessons our store guides get to take every year. However one of the largest annual training events of the year happened to land right behind it, so bear with me while I chat about how awesome this company is yet again…

On Monday 50+ employees from across the EMS’s chain of 68 stores, from Virginia to Maine, traveled to Mount Washington Valley for 3 days of camping, rock climbing, vendor villages, product demos, free swag, and slideshows from some of the country’s greatest climbers! That same day 3 small groups split off to backpack the Northern Presidentials while the rest settled in at Great Glen for the next couple days of cliff-side training.

On Tuesday reps from Petzl, Black Diamond, CAMP, Five-Ten, and Sterling, La Sportiva, and Scarpa, ran round-robin clinics at Cathedral Ledge educating the store guides on product use and giving everyone a chance to get hands on. From climbing shoes to advanced hauling systems and fixed line ascension everyone got involved.

After a full day of knowledge saturation the store guides returned to the evening festivities at Great Glen with a vendor village, scrumptious catered BBQ from the Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery, and slideshow from world famous climber Cedar Wright!

Busy North End
Busy North End
Fixed Rope Ascension, aka "Jugging"
Fixed Rope Ascension, aka “Jugging”
Petzl Anchor Central
Petzl Anchor Central
Petzl gear talk with Dave Karl
Petzl gear talk with Dave Karl
Free swag from Petzl!
Free swag from Petzl!

On Wednesday EMS Climbing Guides from North Conway NH, Lake Placid & New Paltz NY, Boston MA, and West Hartford CT gave clinics on advanced anchor building, climbing movement, multi-pitch skills, and fixed rope climbing (LOL improvised Lhotse-face on Whitehorse) at 7 different stations. That evening wrapped up with another great slideshow from one of MWV’s own famous climbers, Janet Bergman.

While the Convergence ended for our store guides this was the first time in years we had just about our entire Climbing School staff in the same town so Charlie, Keith, and Eric organized a great climbing guide training day the next day.

Starting the day at the Classroom at Cathedral
Starting the day at the Classroom at Cathedral
Some small group chat
Some small group chat
Some fancy rope work practice
Some fancy rope work practice
Guess what kind of snake this in in the comments if you read this far...
Guess what kind of snake this in in the comments if you read this far…
Some guide-to-guide short-rope practice
Some guide-to-guide short-rope practice
Some mock guiding up Upper Refuse
Some mock guiding on Upper Refuse

I got a lot out of this entire week. I got to see yet again how committed EMS is to it’s mission statement. I got to see old friends from around the industry from store guides to gear reps, pro-climbers, and retired climbing guides. I learned 2 more ways to tie a clove hitch (I now know 5). I learned a great short-rope trick that involves a tree. But I think best of all I got to know some of my fellow climbing guides who work in other locales a bit better. Coming together, sharing ideas, a pitch or two, a quick lap up a classic climb at lunch time, a trail run I would later regret, some guide tricks, a mug (or three) at The Moat, a few funny stories, fewer scary stories, and a healthy bit of debate on gear preferences made for an awesome couple days of guide related work in an otherwise pretty slow time of year. La vie est belle!

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