Locals to Whistler and the Sea to Sky Corridor may have noticed that the Whistler Alpine Guides Bureau – a staple of the Whistler guiding community for many years – is now branded under the Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures (MSAA) family.
The move came from MSAA owner and lead guide Eric Dumerac after he worked extensively in the European Alps and the Canadian Rockies and wanted to grow his business towards the Coast Mountains.
I sat down with Eric recently for an interview about where he has come from and where he wants to take MSAA in the future.
Then and now
Vince: Why the move to the Coast and why did you choose to purchase Whistler Alpine Guides?
Eric: Whistler Alpine Guides has always been the long standing, solid guiding outfit on the Coast. I was working for them when I talked to the then owner and let him know I was in the market to grow MSAA to the Coast. Both the Rockies and Coast range have amazing things to offer respectively and I thought it would be amazing if I could service both. As it turned out we made a great deal and MSAA acquired the company.
MSAA lead guide and owner Eric Dumerac
Vince: What made you want to start MSAA in the first place?
Eric: As a mountain guide having worked in the Alps and in Canada, I realized there was a gap in the market in terms of how mountain skills were both offered and taught. One thing that was missing was an instructor lesson plan. A company must certify that every participant receives the full curriculum, no matter which instructor they get. Also nobody really published exactly what skills participants would be getting. What I did is with the help of colleagues is develop a fresh published curriculum for each course to base the lesson plans from. That way participants knew exactly what they would be receiving.
Vince: How is MSAA upholding the strong legacy that Whistler Alpine Guides leaves behind?
Eric: We are not changing anything with Whistler Alpine Guides, its business as usual with the same guides and the same programs. We are bringing are new developments such as the new Via Ferrata in Squamish, new MSAA course structure and lesson plans, as well as new trips and courses that cover Canada’s two best mountain ranges; the Rockies and Coast ranges. Something we also hold very dear is the private guiding tradition. This is guiding in its purest form and our guides do this at the highest level. We also contribute to the community with free companion rescue refreshers and support various mountain community initiatives. We are members of Leave No Trace Canada and abide to the highest level of environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism.
Vince: Where do you see MSAA in the next five years and beyond?
Eric: MSAA has well established roots since 1991 and benefits from innovative climber/skier leadership with global experience. Myself and several of our guides have pioneered first ascents all over the world, as well as ski descents. We also now have capability to guide throughout our world-class terrain in the Canadian west. We are the only company to service three major sectors of adventure mountain tourism; mountain skills from beginner to most advanced (including guide training), mountain safety (ski, ice climbing, rock climbing and mountaineering) and our mountain adventures (Via Ferrata, glacier hikes, hiking, snowshoeing, ice and rock climbing experience).