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Choada_Boy

Guiding as a Career?

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I'm looking for feedback from any guides or guide services about guiding as a career. What are the best parts? The worst? How's the money? How flexible can your schedule be? Is IFMGA cert a must in this day and age?

 

Any info/ideas/suggestions are appreciated.

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Best part is being outside. Worst part is sitting in the rain on mt. baker trying to teach things while you are cold and so is everyone else. Money is not great but despite what most people say, you can make a living out of it. You will be pretty broke you first year or so. Flexible schedule depends on who you work for. Your schedule will be more flexible as you become more senior. IFMGA is not a must, but a willingness to get on the AMGA track probably is. Many guiding companies will not hire without some sort of cert.

 

FYI: guiding is not climbing. If you want to teach what you love to others then its for you, but don't expect to be killing it on gnarly routes with clients because not its not likely to happen. That being said I have had some great times in the mountains with clients.

 

 

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In any career path, there are trade offs. If you could work full time, every day, the guiding wages would not be terrible if broken down to an average hourly rate. You will not be building wealth, but you can get by. But the schedule rarely works out such that you are actually working full time (40 hours/week), especially when you're first getting started. A lot of guides have side jobs in the interseasons. There will be days that are long and hard and even if offered thousands of dollars for the day's work you wouldn't do it over again. There will also be days that you are having a great time with amazing people in amazing places and you'll be psyched to realize you're getting paid to have fun. Most days will be somewhere in between.

 

One of the bigger challenges is the effect it can have on your personal life. Maintaining a relationship can be tough because you will spend a lot of time away from home and away from phones/email - it helps to have a very understanding significant other. Though not all, many of my career guide friends are single. You also have little control over your schedule, especially when starting out - i.e. when the work comes, you should probably take it. Friendships can go the same way - you will be on the go all the time. You will form many great friendships among fellow guides, but you won't see them all the time. Be comfortable being on your own/doing things for yourself.

 

One of the best things about guiding, especially for the average early-mid 20s recent college grad (which is when a lot of guides start...and end their guiding years) is the time you spend with the clients. Most of them are older and wiser than you. In my experience, many of the clients are intelligent people that are successful and driven in whatever it is they do in life, and you can learn a lot from them. Pick their brains, ask questions, figure out what sort of career/life you might want if/when you decide to move on from guiding. And try not to let them pull you off of the mountain - some of them will try.

 

If you're young, try to get on and do it for a few years. Then you'll know enough about it to decide whether or not its something you think you can pull off long term. If its not, you will have learned some great people management skills that will help you in your next career. And some rope tricks, too.

 

 

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A professional guide has to have some kind of credentials, AMGA is just the most common system. If you're in the game long-term, you'll be expected to progress through the cert. ranks, and if you're paying for the training/exams/dues/recerts/first aid cert/etc yourself, it can get quite expensive (five figures). The pay isn't good, as others have mentioned. It can pay the bills for a single in their 20's, but it simply will not cover a mortgage and living expenses for a family of 4, with a bit to set aside for the kids' college and your eventual retirement. Finally, guiding is about sharing your love and enthusiasm for what you do with others, more than it is about actual climbing. If you think your head would explode if you had to spend 3-5 days a week watching Boy Scouts badly belay each other (while you explain how to do it for the upteenth time), then guiding isn't for you.

 

Fortunately, it's not that hard to break into and try it for a couple years, assuming you have a suitable climbing background and a cordial personality.

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You'll have some of the best work days of your life. I'm sometimes incredulous that I'm actually being paid to hike and climb in such beautiful areas. But as the other posters alluded to, you'll also pack your belongings and your life into a suitcase. It's the double edged sword of travel.

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You'll be in the hills much more often than your climbing buddies, but when they are working on first ascents, you'll be showing knots to strangers.

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i'm going to save all my $$ and make you be my bitch, and guide my ass, and maaaaybe just maybe you'll get a tip. better be good though.

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Guiding as a career is for the few. The sciences most likely offer much better stable prospects, but you knew this already. That said, sciences and guiding do occasionally mix.

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a buddy of mine guided for RMI for a few years. He used to juggle his ice tools to charm the lady clients, had some big successes with the ladies in the Longmire inn. Raindawg will remember Fupp. I know Fupp didn't have much training at all when he started for RMI.

 

I've seen a lot of guides working in the valley and jtree. Most of them seem a bit ambivalent about the business. It's almost like a lot of the fun has gone out of climbing for them. I watched one guide combine and free solo the third and fourth pitches of Central Pillar of Frenzy in the valley. He was trailing two 10.3 60 meter ropes for his two clients, and might have put in 3 pieces in 60 meters. I watched him dance through a section of 5.9, 70 feet above his last cam. It was almost as if he had to run it out to make it interesting. He was really comfortable up there, a picture of grace.

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I watched one guide combine and free solo the third and fourth pitches of Central Pillar of Frenzy in the valley. He was trailing two 10.3 60 meter ropes for his two clients, and might have put in 3 pieces in 60 meters. I watched him dance through a section of 5.9, 70 feet above his last cam. It was almost as if he had to run it out to make it interesting. He was really comfortable up there, a picture of grace.

 

picture of grace my stinky ass! this is a picture of stupidity and bad guiding! This "guide" was working but not guiding.

 

The day will come when he makes an error and takes a huge fall, injuring himself or worse. Best case condition is that he looks like a fool in front of his clients. While it may impress a client, it is a bad example for them and a just a real dumb ass move. If I owned that business, that guide would be fired. Business insurance rates!

And if he was certified by the AMGA........

 

there are to many examples of guides running it out on easy ground and taking big falls, breaking hips and other thick bones. or worse. Guides are always teaching when with clients. What would these yos clients be learning?

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I believe that workmans comp pays some fraction of the wage. I don't know how much but a fraction of guide wage is not much. Might be better off rehabing behind the counter at mcdonalds.

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Hey look, having worked in the ski and guiding industry--and having been hurt in the oil and gas industry (not too badly, but without workmen's paying for the $1,000 MRI, I wouldn't have known my bicep was about to end up in my shoulder)--it's no small thing to know at least within the parameters of performing a job, you'll be covered if you get hurt.

 

These days health care cost is a BIG consideration with work, just saying......

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S1W hit the nail on the head.

 

Talking about guiding as a job is one thing. Talking about guiding as a career is another. Guiding as a job is probably universally agreed to be a great experience. I don't know anyone who has regretted being a guide. But as a career, only 1% of guides make it into a legitimate career. Those who do have determination, patience, love of mountains and willingness to live a somewhat oddball lifestyle. I'd bet those who have made a lifelong career out of it would say that being away from home/friends/spouse is the hardest part (or sitting in the rain for days at a time). There's also those who have carved out a perfect little niche and they sometimes seem to have life pretty dialed in.

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I watched one guide combine and free solo the third and fourth pitches of Central Pillar of Frenzy in the valley. He was trailing two 10.3 60 meter ropes for his two clients, and might have put in 3 pieces in 60 meters. I watched him dance through a section of 5.9, 70 feet above his last cam. It was almost as if he had to run it out to make it interesting. He was really comfortable up there, a picture of grace.

 

What a strange definition of free soloing you have.

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I am currently working towards my ACMG assistant rock guide certification as it is the stepping-stone towards alpine guide cert.

 

I'm also doing my paramedic training as its a great part-time job, plus F/A skills are great to have.

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I watched one guide combine and free solo the third and fourth pitches of Central Pillar of Frenzy in the valley. He was trailing two 10.3 60 meter ropes for his two clients, and might have put in 3 pieces in 60 meters. I watched him dance through a section of 5.9, 70 feet above his last cam. It was almost as if he had to run it out to make it interesting. He was really comfortable up there, a picture of grace.

 

What a strange definition of free soloing you have.

 

i was just thinking that myself...he probably stuck those couple of pieces right at the "5.9" part and was "dancing" on the 5.6 parts...

 

hahahaha

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What's the difference between a threatened rooster and a guide?

 

The rooster clucks defiance...

 

What is a guide who just broke up with his girlfriend?

 

HOMELESS

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What's the difference between a mountain guide and a large pizza?

 

A large pizza can feed a family of four

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My favorite:

 

What's the difference between God and a mountain guide?

 

God doesn't think he's a mountain guide

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