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Why I chose to become a guide:


Growing up in Colorado the seed of being outdoors was planted in me at a very young age. After high-school it didn’t work out at a major university but it helped me to solidify that my true calling was the outdoors. I then attended Colorado Mountain College on their Outdoor Rec Leadership Program and beginning the summer of 06’ I became a river guide. Helping bring people to experience the power and grandeur of the outdoors quickly became a passion of mine. Excited to find my newly found passion of guiding it didn’t take long before that passion would bleed into my obsession of snowboarding. Things started to fall into place as it was right around that time that I started to discover backcountry snowboarding. After doing some research and following some fellow splitboard guides who were paving the way in splitboard guiding, I had a basic idea of the path that I needed to follow. Education and experience. I took AIARE courses and did everything that I could to get out into the field to gain experience and learn from others. I guided rafts in the summers and then worked night-shifts at a hotel over the winter so that I could get into backcountry via snowmobile or splitboard every chance that I could. Over half a decade passed and once I got to the point where I felt comfortable that I could safely bring people into the backcountry, I nervously applied at a local outfitter, went through a guide try-out, and spent my first full year as a guide. I was stoked to say the least! The great thing about traveling in the backcountry during winter is it’s an ongoing learning process and I knew that the next step was to go through the process of becoming an AMGA Certified Ski Guide. I spent the next couple seasons on the AMGA Ski Guide track, breaking into Avalanche Instruction, and guiding ski and snowboard tours for a local outfitter. While doing so I always had the thought of eventually starting my own snowboard-specific guide and education service.

The Beginning of CSG

Photo by Greg Hansen

Photo by Greg Hansen

Gaining experience in the river guiding world as a guide and trainer led to me eventually becoming an operations manager. Once I began to guide on my snowboard I knew that I wanted to develop a snowboard specific outfitter that offered guided tours and educational courses in Colorado. After years of working as an operations manager in the summer, I finally felt like it was time to pull the trigger. The next step was to assess the options and determine how feasible it would be. I had been continually following the work of fellow split guides like Eric Layton. Eric has been a huge help due to his vast amount of experience in guiding and also that we share a similar passion and mindset. Eric is one of the first guides to become fully certified by AMGA as a Splitboard Guide and is owner of Splitboard Guides International. Eric is a big role-model of mine and I eventually got into contact with him. I fired off a million questions at him and he replied with so much information and stoke that it only made me look up to him even more. Eric is now the Technical Director for CSG and we are extremely excited to have him as part of the team!


The next step in the process is the hardest, permitting. Living and operating in Summit County has a huge upside. There is access to excellent backcountry terrain and a huge potential for clients with 5 ski resorts within a 15 mile radius. Through a few connections I was eventually able to link up with Jay Irwin and Abe Pacharz who run CBST Adventures/Colorado Adventure Guides. After a few meetings and discussions, we eventually finalized the decision to open up a new division of CBST Adventures, Colorado Snowboard Guides. Colorado’s first snowboard specific outfitter. When dreams come true! With the framework in place it was time to get to work. Over the course of the summer, the website and curriculums were published and the focus shifted to spreading the word. Our goal is to educate and bring people into the backcountry to experience what we are so passionate about. To experience life beyond the resort! We offer guided day and overnight tours, intro and advanced splitboarding courses, avalanche courses, and more. We are working in collaboration with Eric Layton on splitboard and avalanche courses so stay tuned as there are some exciting things to come!


Thanks for reading! Help spread the word and find out more at Follow along on our blog for snowpack conditions, observation updates, and more. Live life #beyondtheresort


Justin Ibarra


Colin Balke is a content editor for who lives in Northern California. When not plucking away on a keyboard, he can be found splitboarding, camping, backpacking, or hanging out with family and friends.