Industry Profile: Eagle Pass Heliskiing Lead Guide Scott Newsome
28 Aug, 2012
Photo: Sean Hannah
Job Title: Owner, Vice President of operations and Lead Guide Eagle Pass Heli
Employer: Eagle Pass Heliskiing
Years on snow: 34, years snowboarding 25
Days on snow: 180 per year
Currently Riding: Trapper Snowboards made in Revelstoke, Scott Newsome proto type guide specific split promodel to be released this year.
Currently I am: Tired of summer and looking forward to winter. I did catch a 10 lbs. trout last weekend
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Scott: I grew up in Lake Louise Alberta in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Both my parents worked for the ski resort. When I started snowboarding in1987 it was during the infancy of a new sport. I rode with a deep talent of snowboard legends and a brotherhood known as ‘Team Core”. By age 16, I was snowboarding professionally. Competing in halfpipe, slopestyle, along with some major magazine and video accomplishments. Skipping school on a regular basis to go mountaineering and ride powder stashes was the normal routine.
After graduation from Banff High, I made the inevitable move to Whistler like most did. It was the only place to be at the time to further ones snowboard career. Whistler and Alaska was where I found my true calling in the snowboard industry, Riding steep coastal lines in a deep snowpack, really opened my eyes as to what was possible on a snowboard. I never cared much for the industry hype, To me snowboarding was about soul riding for yourself not for a sponsors industry gain. After a few close calls and serious broken leg in 96, I was dropped by my sponsors and was left to make a life choice. So I moved to Revelstoke to work for my uncle who owned Cat Powder Skiing in Revelstoke and started my guiding career.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Scott: To me Snowboarding hasnt changed my life. It has always been just been my life! Snowboarding has given me my direction in life, success, friendship, love, happiness,sadness, fear, passion, career, children, and most recently my business Eagle Pass.
Photo: Scott Newsome
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Scott: I left Whistler and I moved to Revelstoke. There I began working at Cat powder skiing as a tail guide for the local cat ski company gaining some of my needed industry experience as a prerequisite to apply for my guides exams. I had previously applied to the ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) but was not accepted at that time because I did not ski. The organization would not accept snowboarders for years as the splitboard was still very new in the backcountry scene and was yet unproven. After a long battle, my old friend Craig Kelly persuaded the ACMG to accept him into the Assistant guides training program, but as we all know he was killed just months before his first exam. He opened the door to the ACMG for me and I was accepted into the training program the following year. It is not an easy task getting through all the guides exams, but last spring I became the first splitboarder to pass my Lead guide exam certification.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Scott: Before getting involved with Eagle Pass, I worked for 12 years as helicopter Logger in the summer months falling trees and flying them out with a long line 200 ft below the heli. That job made me a total hard ass. So I expect hard work out of employees and don’t like to hear excuses or problems, just solutions!
Shay: Tell us about your role at Eagle Pass Heliskiing and a description of the work you do?
Scott: My official title at Eagle Pass is Operations Manager and Lead guide. But as one of the owners I actually have my hands in just about everything that has to due with the business. Guiding, sales and marketing, safety, day to day logistics and occasionally even doing dishes and scrubbing the toilets at the lodge. I have been finding out lately that the summer months are just as much work as in the winter but with more computers and no pow to ride!
Photo: Jeff Patterson
Shay: If you had to make up a job title that most accurately described what you REALLY do, what would it be?
Scott: Director of Herding Cats.
Shay: Describe the craziest day/moment you’ve had at your job?
Scott: Being a mountain guide is not always as fun as it may seem. Unfortunately I have been involved in several different types of rescues and incidences in the mountains. It is hard to pin point on specific day from another. One that stands out would be In the ART of FLIGHT movie when the heli got all Iced up, and was stuck on the ridge. I had to tie the heli down so it would not fall off the ridge, with the rope in my pack and tie it to rocks, that I dug down to and exposed. Gnarly.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Scott: I would have to say working as a guide for THE ART OF FLIGHT film. I worked the safety logistics with the Brain Farm crew for both years in the Nelson and Revelstoke segments. It was a great experience working with T RICE and crew, I will never forget what a great experience it was.
One of my most memorable days ever was this year. I had a mixed group of first time heli skiers and boarders, from Arkansas of all places. None of them could ski or board very well but they got around ok mostly way in the back seat or and frequently looking like an ostrich. Throughout their trip this particular group really opened my eyes to the reality of how we as guides effect people’s lives on a daily basis and create these life long memories for folks that otherwise live a complete polar opposite lifestyle, than the perception of my own reality. The group was a hoot and only looking at the positives of trip, life and enjoying every minute. It was not until the end of their trip I was informed that the trip was arranged last minute for one individual who was about to start his battle with severe cancer.
Shay: What do you think are the biggest challenges that the snowboard industry faces and what changes would you like to see for the future
Scott: I think snowboarding has no real big challenges left to accomplish.
The progression of snowboarding has been cool to witness over the the last 30 years I can only image what the next 30 will bring. As for any changes in the industry as a hole I am all ready seeing the changes in my industry that I like for the future, snowboarding is not just a kids sport any more. I see successful middle aged professionals from all over the world on a daily basis coming heli boarding. In the early years, snowboarders were all considered, dirt bag out casts and hated by skiers. Snowboarding was just supposed to be a fad like the Mono ski and Snow blades, but it has matured into a billion dollar industry and mainstream global sport, growing faster in global popularity than any other sport in history.
Photo: Sean Hannah
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Scott: I get requests and questions from many of young aspiring snowboard guides from all over the world and this is what I tell them. Guiding is a very rewarding occupation, but you must be willing to accept the associated risks involved not only for yourself but as well your clients that put their lives in your hands. The mountains can be your best friend one day and your worst nightmare the next. I have found this out the hard way!
Growing up in the mountains is always a real asset. You will already have a strong built in mountain sense and riding back ground. Both of these things helped me along the way for sure. My suggestions are to become a dirt bag and go ski touring/splitboarding and mountaineering every day for a whole winter (no chair lifts). Learn how to read a map and use a compass, Put in big days climbing in shitty weather, go winter camping, become efficient with mountaineering skills and rope handling/rescue techniques , harden yourself first, both mentally and physically. Be the one who makes decisions when out in the mountains with your friends, question peers, avalanche professionals, and old guides on their decision making processes and snow pack understanding. Spend time in different types of interior and coastal snow packs. And always remember no matter how much experience you might have, The mountains don’t care you’re an expert.