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Dennis_the_Menace

Guides Jumping the Mountain Madness Ship

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Don't forget about payroll taxes and workmens comp and paying the government to use the lands. It is amazing how it can all add up. To guide legally these companies have to jump through alot of hoops and it costs. If you are guiding independently the costs are much lower, but you have no insurance back up if the students get hurt on a trip. One claim by a student could have your wages garnered for years to come.

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Whoa, yikes. yipee ki ey!

I personally have had very good experiences being guided by Madness. Another trip was in the planning stages. I learned that two of my favorite guides recently left, thus the reason behind my inquiry. Is there an answer or not?

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Yeah Lammy,

No secret that insurance is a racket, but when you look at where the difference in money from what the client pays to what the guide makes there is a big discrepancy. It's all for "overhead" of course, and by eliminating as much of that overhead as possible, one can maximize profits. Let's do a little example as an exercise.

Take a typical glacier climb/class...a Baker ascent. Figure four days for instruction and ascent/descent. With a client to guide ratio of 3:1, at $200 per client per day that's $800 income per guide. Gear use will vary, and assuming that clients provide their own or pay rental fees on top of the course fee, there is no gear overhead (naturally the rental prices cover not only the wear and tear on the actual gear rented, but also the community gear like ropes, pickets, etc). Food may be provided and may not, we'll assume it is and by buying in bulk it will run a total of $4 per person per day. That's $64 in food including the guide and the clients assigned to him/her. Permitting fees may add up to $50 (or nothing at all depeding on the locale), and insurance another $50 (a high estimate for one course of a year-round operation with multiple groups out at any one time). Add another $50 for transportation and $10 for guide's continuing education. $5 for printed materials for the clients, and $3 per client for "souvenirs" such as a mug. The total expense runs $241 per guide. The total income is $800 (this again is a conservative estimate). Difference is $559, the guides are probably only getting paid $70/day for a total of $280. That leaves $279 per guide per course that is being eaten up in "overhead". Even picking up the expenses, the guide could almost double their wage by working independently. Of course marketing and such will be a cost, but with the things you probably already have...phone, computer, this can be accomplished for little more than time.

This is just my opinion from doing exactly this thing...guiding independently. Work half as much or make twice as much, set your own schedule and agenda, follow your own rules. It requires motivation, entrepreneurial drive, and perseverence though, something not everyone is equipped with.

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Dennis,

I seriously doubt there is a straight answer....and I doubt many, if any, are actually leaving. Just BS rumors.

Guides often leave companies or guiding altogether. Some guides get burned out, some love the job but want more money, some want to spend more time climbing at their level and not at the level of a client.

Few guides stay at any one company for more than a few years...regardless of it being Madness, AAI, or RMI. Some do stay and really build themselves a nitch. Madness has a strong share of these guides.

I just completed a trip with Madness and loved it. I have used them for overseas trips in the past and will use them again.

Will,

As far as making big money in the outdoor industry...even the giants don't make much. I am very close to a few major climbers (yes sponsored pros) and guide company owners. I have seen the books and they are not impressive.

I am an attorney who has represented them in many scenarios, including deals with Nat Geo, Travel Channel, Discvery Channel, as well as sponsorship from the big gear companies. There just isn't much many there. I do most of the work gratis or for a deeply discounted rate because I hate to see them get screwed and I love the climbing community.

As far as guide companies go, they have MANY hidden costs/overhead. Insurance, payment to the Forest Service and Park Service for "user days", advertising, etc. The overhead will kill you quickly. Yes RMI has a sweet deal but old Lou lined that up YEARS ago....don't think you or anyone else will unseat him.

If you wish to operate below the radar screen you can do so more cheaply and make more money....you can also end up in a lot of hot water. Then you will have to call an attorney and pay him/her to bail you out. And he or her will tell you about how you can't actually get out of it....you can pay alot and srtill have a judgment entered against you.

I encourage you to step up to the plate and use a little entreprenuerial energy to easily double your wage and gain a modicum of control over your schedule, working conditions, etc. But then you won't be a guide any more...you'll be an owner.

By the way, it takes the average guiding company ten years to become financially stable. If you can make it for ten years maybe you will be making "loot." You'd be the first.

I am more than happy to prvide you further advice if you are serious.

Good luck

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Thread Recap:<BR>1. Rumor stated<BR>2. Rumor supported by ranom speculation<BR>3. More speculation<BR>4. Rumor shown to be incorrect by informed source<BR>5. Informed source advised not to take board seriously - dude<BR>6. Detailed information offered in support of above speculation<BR>7. Detailed information shown to be way off<BR>8. Request by regulars for less boring topic such as chicks and conspiracies

 

this has got to be one of the best single cc.com posts ever. thumbs_up.gif

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Thread Recap:<BR>1. Rumor stated<BR>2. Rumor supported by ranom speculation<BR>3. More speculation<BR>4. Rumor shown to be incorrect by informed source<BR>5. Informed source advised not to take board seriously - dude<BR>6. Detailed information offered in support of above speculation<BR>7. Detailed information shown to be way off<BR>8. Request by regulars for less boring topic such as chicks and conspiracies

 

this has got to be one of the best single cc.com posts ever. thumbs_up.gif

 

Agreed. thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

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Thread Recap:<BR>1. Rumor stated<BR>2. Rumor supported by ranom speculation<BR>3. More speculation<BR>4. Rumor shown to be incorrect by informed source<BR>5. Informed source advised not to take board seriously - dude<BR>6. Detailed information offered in support of above speculation<BR>7. Detailed information shown to be way off<BR>8. Request by regulars for less boring topic such as chicks and conspiracies

 

thumbs_up.gif as well. Do you mind doing a "nodder" synopsis? I just don't have the time to even begin reading that one, but I am curious...

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