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saskrock


Dec 16, 2004, 9:44 PM
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Attention!!! Mountian Guides
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I am currently looking at getting into the business, and have a few questions. First off how do you like it (I imagine you will say great!) and do you work all year round? What sort of training do you have ACMG ect? Any info on UCC's (in Kamloops) adventure Guide programs? I am of course doing this for the lifestyle and the love....but Its got to pay the bills. What would an avereage income be (including what seasons it includes) I intend on opening my own business as well which will probably make a difference. I am looking for feedback from any type of guide and not just full mountian guides.

Thanks for all your help!!


kman


Dec 16, 2004, 10:00 PM
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Dude...you live in REGINA!!

http://www.acmg.ca/public/html/courses/mg/mountainguide.asp
Click on the flow chart branches and it brings up more options on the left.


guangzhou


Dec 16, 2004, 10:02 PM
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If you are dead set on guiding snd starting your own business, go international. South America, Mexico, and Asia specifically.

Once you're in the industry, you'll figure out that the guide community is torn on certain certification issues. Both sides have legitimate arguments.

Good luck, but I recommend you steer clear.


olderic


Dec 17, 2004, 7:26 AM
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Before you can be one - you have to spell it


Partner j_ung


Dec 17, 2004, 8:20 AM
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High pressure, long hours, low pay, often no benefits, and if you just want to climb all the time -- you're barking up the wrong crack. But, the perks are good and it puts you in a setting you love. :D


saskrock


Dec 17, 2004, 2:10 PM
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In reply to:
Before you can be one - you have to spell it

Honestly, when you are going to post comments like this try to think twice nobody needs this type of shit!!

Thanks for the posts....I have looked at the AMCG website already. Are any of you actually guides or no. Then plan actually is to international, I speak chinese and am currently taking further class and then plan opening my own business.

Any other info from guides would be great


slavetogravity


Dec 17, 2004, 3:02 PM
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Ok first thing. I’m not an ACMG guide. For a time I was a delusional kid who loved climbing and the outdoors, and held dreams of becoming a guide. I've known and climbed with a few ACMG guides over the years and here's what I've learned about the industry.

1. Nepotism. Nepotism like you wouldn’t believe! Ules your great granddad was an Mt. Guide, or you’ve been hanging out with Guides since you where in diapers. Your basically SOL. The road to becoming a guide is a long and lonely one. Given the fact that your from Sask. I’m guessing this applies to you.

2. “The Lifestyle.” Q. What’s the difference between a Mt. Guide and a large pizza? Ans. A large pizza can feed a family of four. I love people to bust their ass at some job but are poor as dirt, when asked “What the Fuck is a smart guy like you doing this?” Their response is “But I’m doing it for the lifestyle.” Traditional this is called poverty. There’s this misconception out there that in order to have a great job that allows you to do what you love, you’ve got to be willing to make little to no money doing it. My advice. Find a good job that you love doing, that pays well, and allows you to purse the things you love. Not a job that turns the thing you love into a means to putting food on the table.

3. Kamloops. And all those other outdoor rec. diploma/ degree programs out there. I’ve had a few friends go through these programs and in my experience the only ones that made anything out of their experience where ones that went into it with a wealth of life experience behind them. 10 plus years in the mountains, 30+ years of age. Kids who get into this program with little to no experience, and expect to come out with any hope of finding employment are kidding them selves. These programs also cost a ridiculous amount of money. So much money, that a guy could take it and go on a 7 year long road trip. Go to college to better you life, not to go camping.

4. Employment. Programs like Kamloops pump out so many guides through their program that the industry is currently saturated with them. Good luck making it to the head of your class.

Sorry if by reading this I’ve burst your bubble. But I’ve seen a few friends with similar ambitions who wasted a lot of their time and money only to find theme selves in an industry that shut them out. I figure a guy who can speak Chinese could find better employment opportunities out there


kman


Dec 17, 2004, 3:25 PM
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...besides...YOU LIVE IN REGINA!!!!


climbhoser


Dec 17, 2004, 3:28 PM
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I am a guide...first and foremost, don't listen to the doubters, the haters...they don't know the truth. Guangzhou knows a lot about guiding. If you want to make any sort of living at it, it's going to be by owning a company. Just being a guide sustains the lifestyle, but little more. Now, the trick is that you can't just run a guide business and expect to do it. You have to also be a gear rep, put on slide shows, guide EVERY discipline (rock, alpine and ski mountaineering), fill in the downtime between hot seasons with other sources of income AND raise your kids...if you weren't hoping for a family I wouldn't be suggesting owning the company, it's way too much stress for way little worth, and just being aguide is worth it if you're single.

It's tough, but the thing about running a business is that you'll be spending less time guiding than you think...you suddenly become an entrepreneur instead of a guide. My best advice would be to at least guide for a couple of seasons before getting certified and see how much you like guiding...see, guiding is NOT climbing.

I know a few people who own guiding businesses who aren't even real mountain climbers (Sierra Wilderness Seminars anyone?). Not to say this makes the company bad, it doesn't, but the guys owning these companies are businessmen who love the outdoors, but aren't guide worthy. Other folks love to guide, but have an outside source of income like guiding fly fishing, and their other income supports their guiding business.

After all is said and done, what it really comes down to is the community you're in and the market you'll be targeting. What lifestyle do you want? You can create anything you want to create for yourself within the community, as long as you can imagine it. Don't be afraid, but be aware.

This all comes from someone who is doing just like you, looking to start a guiding business.

PM if you have q's


guangzhou


Dec 18, 2004, 4:20 AM
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I replied to your IM. Shoot me an Email.

If you are Serious about finding a market, Asia is wide open, but you need to be ready for the differences in what clients are looking for. You also need to decide what market you want to focus on. Westerners coming to Asia? Asians? Schools? Provide consulting services to existing guide service? So on……….

With limited recourses, someone looking to start a guide service for China, or Thailand, or any other Asian country could easily do it. The key would be to have some local guides you trust as contractors. Your job would be to provide the bridge for your clients. Another words, travel arrangement, visas, reservation, meals, local transportation ect. You would also need a guide who knows the system to chaperon your clients for the duration of the trip. This person has the local contact numbers, hotel arrangements, transportation details, meeting locations so the clients could just follow and enjoy themselves. Make sure this person is a safe climber, but it’s crucial that this person have a personality that people will like. He must also be able to solve problems has they arise.

Don’t forget to organize some other non climbing related activities like shopping and site seeing. That’s what people who hire a guide want.


A good thing to remember about guiding: People who hire guides are more likely looking for the experience than for the climbing itself. Other words, your clients want to climb more to tell their friends and family then for the climbing itself. Make sure you know what your client wants.

Don't be one of the countless people who starts a business in hopes of making no money. I hate to hear things like "I don't this Job for the money, but because I love it." Those people are just trying to convince themselves. If they didn’t do it for the money, than they wouldn’t charge a fee would they. Those guides are just bad businesspeople.

Promote your business anyway you can. Slide shows, articles, fundraisers, anything that people will want to participate in. Only volunteer your guides/ business when you get something in return. Marketing/publicity.

When you do start your service, remember this: THE MEALS MUST BE GOOD.


Good luck. I still recommend you steer clear. Of course, I might be hiring someone in the next year or so.


davemiller


Dec 18, 2004, 10:05 AM
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Hey Climbhoser! I work for the guy who owns Sierra Wilderness Seminars. What do you know about him? Apparently not much. Its true he doesnt guide much anymore (2 times a year). Hes older now and has got a kid...etc. But not a real mountain climber? Hes been guiding since 1981. Hes done most every trip in his brochure. Hes done walls, 6000m peaks, summited Shasta over 70 times and maybe climbed more peaks in the Sierra than you have (I dont know who you are). So what constitutes a real mountain climber to you? Currently he has a team of very highly qualified guides. Some, includung myself, are pursuing IFMGA certification and are nearing completion. Currently, Im in the Ecuadorian Andes guiding real mountains for him.

As for mountain guiding in general, I feel it can be a very rewarding profession. Its not for everyone though. People skills count the most. Of course you need to have excellent and broad technical skills. But if you dont have the patience and the people skills the technical skills dont matter at all. I would agree that if you want to make a go of it you should be guiding all disciplines including rock, alpine and skiing. You should also get into international trips. Only then can you expect to find guiding work year round that is more or less full time. Its not easy to break into, and you have to be reeeeal flexible until becoming established.


climbhoser


Dec 18, 2004, 4:35 PM
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Hey, I'm not trying to talk trash about SWS...I think they're a super top notch company. Every SWS guide I've ever met has been at the top of the trade. I'm only going on word of mouth from folks I know who have worked for him. I hate to bring names into the business as I don't want anyone in trouble, but suffice to say he was quite a higher up in the company.

I'm also not trying to say that the owner isn't a good guy, but that what I DID hear was that he started the company because he likes climbing, but isn't near the top as his guides...he's more of a businessman. That's all.


tempestwind


Dec 18, 2004, 9:29 PM
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In reply to:
Hey Climbhoser! I work for the guy who owns Sierra Wilderness Seminars. What do you know about him? Apparently not much. Its true he doesnt guide much anymore (2 times a year). Hes older now and has got a kid...etc. But not a real mountain climber? Hes been guiding since 1981. Hes done most every trip in his brochure. Hes done walls, 6000m peaks, summited Shasta over 70 times and maybe climbed more peaks in the Sierra than you have (I dont know who you are). So what constitutes a real mountain climber to you? Currently he has a team of very highly qualified guides. Some, includung myself, are pursuing IFMGA certification and are nearing completion. Currently, Im in the Ecuadorian Andes guiding real mountains for him.

As for mountain guiding in general, I feel it can be a very rewarding profession. Its not for everyone though. People skills count the most. Of course you need to have excellent and broad technical skills. But if you dont have the patience and the people skills the technical skills dont matter at all. I would agree that if you want to make a go of it you should be guiding all disciplines including rock, alpine and skiing. You should also get into international trips. Only then can you expect to find guiding work year round that is more or less full time. Its not easy to break into, and you have to be reeeeal flexible until becoming established.


Hey what about the part where every one says that the pay is S--T?
If I may ask what is your pay like? Are they correct or wrong?


climbhoser


Dec 19, 2004, 10:00 AM
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I don't wanna say how much I make lest it get back to my employers...but I know of more than a few guides who make probably 160 a day. Not too shabby, and it's about the best pay I've heard of, though I know lots of guides probably make more. It's especially good if it's regular, which it usually isn't, which is where supplementing it comes in.


swsinc


Dec 19, 2004, 4:03 PM
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Hey climbhoser,
Nice to hear things about me and my company Sierra Wilderness Seminars at least you did say I was a nice guy! So, lets set the stage correctly about guiding and the mountain guiding "Profession".

I have been guiding for over 25 years started assiting when I was 17 years of age, opened SWS in 1981 and have guided up to 180 days per year during the late 80's and early 90's. I have on the order of 1,500 plus guide days in the field. So I have alittle experience.
Taking some time off the last couple of years, doesn't make me a guide anymore, I think not! I will give you the fact that if you stop or slow down any profession it takes some time to get your edge back but it is a quick learning curve!

My businessman side has been very active for the last 3-4 years trying to raise the level from the common preception of "poor mountain guide" to a "professional mountain guide" with a good standard of living. Thanks to the efforts of the AMGA (America Mountain Guides Association) and many other guide companies we are acheiveing this goal. It may take another 5-10 years to get it to the level of other professions but it is happening. My company supports families, so the idea that a family or guiding or is for just single young climbers is wrong!

Yes, I started Mountain Guiding because I loved the mountain, most people start something when they have a passion for it! I love to take people into the mountains and show them the wilderness and places they can't get on their own. Very satifing type of job and it can be financially rewarding as well. It is a life style as well, but it doesn't need to be a the working poor either. You will not get rich owning or working for a guiding company but you will never regret the great experiences and the great people you meet, both clients and colleagues!

Now, for Saskrock, who started all this! If you want to get into mountain guiding by all means do so! You will regret if you don't, but the suggestion to apprentice under someone is a good idea because mountain guiding is not for everyone. The ACMG is an excellent organization and certification should be pursued through them. I am not an expert on the Canadian system, just the American system but Canadian Guides are well respected in the U.S. they also as I understand it have a Union of Mountain Guides which sets the rate of pay to a basic standard of living. Best of luck and I always believe you should pursue your dreams where every they take you!
Best of Luck!!!!


karlbaba


Dec 19, 2004, 5:10 PM
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Just some things to keep in mind.

Owning a business is way different than being a guide in most cases. I can see it being a logical step for somebody who is gettting a little old for guiding and needs to make a transition to more money/less grunting. But if you want to be a businessman, you could consider opening a lucrative business, where you can eventually make great money and delegate responsibility to a manager so you can go climbing (just like the clients of guides do) If you want to be outdoors climbing, owning the business isn't the way it's done. (some exceptions exist)

You might make way more money owning the business, but you also have the risk of going down in flames. A local service just did that. Also, then the overhead is your responsibility. One giant guide service loses money on nearly all their private guiding. They make money on classes. By the time you pay the guides, rent, heat, light, power, advertising, insurance, plus taxes of all sorts, you never know what's gonna be left.

If you do want to guide and go international, remember, it's going to involve long periods overseas. You better have an understanding family. I speak some Asian Languages and have a degree in Asian studies from Berkeley, but I don't do overseas trips cause I want to have a serious girlfriend and that just wouldn't go over with her.

First and formost, and I've said this in other threads. You must enjoy facilitating the mountain experience of others or you will hate guiding. I've seen it before in others. You can't do it just for the climbing. If you aren't patient to the max and happy being outdoors climbing way under your level with folks who might stress, it will ruin climbing for you. Get a job like fireman or nurse instead where you work 24 hour shifts with 4 days off in a row instead.

Now, how much money you make depends on a lot of factors, and how much that's going to seem like to you depends on what your needs and expectations are. A general rule that I'm making up right now...more than fast food workers, less than schoolteachers. If you gig is too seasonal, you better supplement it or the fast food guys will start barkinga at your heels.

Otherwise, if you're lucky, and find the right niche, and you love people, and you're not greedy, it's the best thing in the world. It is to me.

Peace

Karl


saskrock


Dec 19, 2004, 8:35 PM
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Karlbaba

So you are a mountain guide then?? If you have a degree a Berkeley and speak "a few" asian languages, and your suggestion is to get a real job and climb for fun then why are guiding. Also if owning a business means staying/working in the industry then that is far better then working at a job that i dislike.

As with your comments about opening a business and the possibly of failing....well this is true with any business, so sure the risks are real but thats what you put on the line to make a go of it. I am not trying to start anything but to me it seems as though you have a chip on your shoulder.

Anyways thanks for your input none the less.

Ethan


Partner philbox
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Dec 19, 2004, 9:09 PM
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Karl Baba would have to be the last person in the world to have a chip on their shoulder. Listen to him, much wisdom he speaks.


grigriese


Dec 19, 2004, 11:43 PM
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In reply to:
Karl Baba would have to be the last person in the world to have a chip on their shoulder. Listen to him, much wisdom he speaks.

Sorry saskrock, philbox is right. Karl Baba's post was just his realistic thoughts on the topic. I'm just a climber myself, but I know a few people who guide, they all have to supplement their income one way or another.

There are many paths to the lifestyle you want. None of us yahoos will deter you from your goal if you are determined. Good Luck!! and make sure to take some marketing & business classes.


ontario_guide


Dec 20, 2004, 12:14 AM
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Key point out of all of this, (from a guide and business owner), get into guiding because you love getting facilitation, not because you love climbing. Top end climbers generally do not need you. You are going to be spending your days teaching people basic skills. If you don't love imparting knowledge and the teaching process, you will burn out. In my experience, 8 years guiding now, few guides who make it last more than 5 years. Personally, I wouldn't want to do anything else.

In answer to your orignal post about the college programs, for most people they're a waste of your time and money. Unless you happen to have a bunch of experience and would like something to round off your resume, you are much better off to take the money you would have spent getting the diploma and work towards an ACMG or AMGA accrediation. At the very least, spend the money taking courses such as Wilderness First Responder, High-angle rescue, etc. Latch on to the best guide you can find and follow them like a puppy.

Best of luck!


karlbaba


Dec 20, 2004, 2:09 AM
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No chip on my shoulder at all Saksrock. Just making sure that folks know some of the pitfalls and actual experiences of guides before they spend big bucks on programs that won't necessarily help them towards their goals.

I've lived in Yosemite for 25 years and seen a lot of friends and near friends go in and out of guiding. I know several waiters and cocktail servers than used to guide and then got out of it. I remember talking to the late Walt Shipley, who was a fine climber, about guiding. He told me it was ruining climbing for him.

Others love it. It just important, very important, that you dig the people as much as you dig climbing. Another positive indicator is if you can enjoy doing the same route over and over and over and still appreciate that you in a beautiful spot making somebody's dream come true.

If not, it's worse than having a job you don't like because you're spoiling your fun interests at the same time.

Here's a poor analogy that's not entirely inaccurate. Just cause you like sex doesn't mean you'd like being a hooker. After years of turning tricks, are you sure you'd still like sex? Would you still go out of your way to do it for free?

It's not just guiding. Folks go to medical school but don't really understand what being a doctor is really like. Folks become CPAs and find out that they hate it. It's just important to know what the reality is before you spend the time and money to get there. l spent a couple years myself getting a teaching credential. The teaching was cool but all baggage attached to it sucked, so I hope I don't have to go back in a high school classroom again!

With guiding, that's easy to figure out in advance. Instead of working your next project or bagging your next peak. Spend a lot of time teaching newbies to climb and see if you can dig it repeatedly.

If so, find the kind of service you'd like to work for and see what kind of qualifications they look for, so you don't waste time and money with the wrong training. You'd certainly want to work for a service before opening your own business so you could learn the ins and outs of it before sticking your financial neck out, just like you wouldn't start leading R rated climbs before you'd followed some trad first.

It's just about knowing yourself and then choosing the efficent path at reaching your goals.

Peace

karl


climbhoser


Dec 20, 2004, 7:29 AM
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swsinc...I can admit when what I know is wrong, and in this case it seems so. Also, I never heard anything bad about you or your company, and being someone who knows a number of SWS guides I Can definitely testify to their level of professionalism. All I heard was that you were a "Rich guy in Portland who started the company because he loves the mountains, but is more of a businessman."

Glad to be correct now, though, so thanks


saskrock


Dec 20, 2004, 10:43 AM
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In reply to:
Key point out of all of this, (from a guide and business owner), get into guiding because you love getting facilitation, not because you love climbing. Top end climbers generally do not need you. You are going to be spending your days teaching people basic skills. If you don't love imparting knowledge and the teaching process, you will burn out. In my experience, 8 years guiding now, few guides who make it last more than 5 years. Personally, I wouldn't want to do anything else.

In answer to your orignal post about the college programs, for most people they're a waste of your time and money. Unless you happen to have a bunch of experience and would like something to round off your resume, you are much better off to take the money you would have spent getting the diploma and work towards an ACMG or AMGA accrediation. At the very least, spend the money taking courses such as Wilderness First Responder, High-angle rescue, etc. Latch on to the best guide you can find and follow them like a puppy.

Best of luck!

The progams will get you certified though ACMG.....
Certifications Available in the Adventure Diploma

In addition to receiving a TRU diploma, students will receive a number of industry certificates depending upon their course selection:



Association of Canadian Mountain Guides: Assistant Ski Guide
Association of Canadian Mountain Guides: Assistant Rock Guide
Association of Canadian Sea Kayak Guides: Assistant Sea Kayaking Guide
River Rafting Guide License
BC Provincial Emergency Program: Rope Rescue Team Leader
BC Provincial Emergency Program: Rope Rescue Team Member
BC Provincial Emergency Program: Search and Rescue Management
Canadian Recreational Canoe Association: Trip Instructor
Canadian Recreational Canoe Association: Lakewater Canoe Instructor
Canadian Recreational Canoe Association: Moving Water Instructor
Canadian Avalanche Association: Safety for Ski Operations I
Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors: Level I Instructor
Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors: Level II Instructor
Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors: Telemark Instructor
National Association of Scuba Diving: Master Diver
National Association of Scuba Diving: Open Water
National Association of Scuba Diving: Advanced Open Water
National Association of Scuba Diving: Dive Supervisor
Rescue Canada: Swiftwater Rescue Technician I
Rescue Canada: Swiftwater Rescue II
Rescue Canada: Swiftwater Rescue Instructor
Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC
Whitewater Kayak Association of BC: Senior River Instructor
Whitewater Kayak Association of BC: Assistant River Instructor
Wilderness Medical Associates: Advanced Wilderness First aid



Note: Additional adventure industry association certifications will continue to be added.


This is small list, but you can get the entire mountain Guide Cert. thorugh the program including alpine and ski.


ontario_guide


Dec 20, 2004, 3:40 PM
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Posts: 526

Re: Attention!!! Mountian Guides [In reply to]
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Yes and take a look at that list. Wilderness First Aid is the bare minimum you would want. Maybe not even the bare minimum. I would say that if you are looking to do anything at all serious, you are going to need a Wilderness First Responder.

ACMG Assistant rock climbing instructor isn't even the bare minimum to do what you seem to want to do. Why would you spend all that money and time to get certs. in canoeing and scuba, etc. when you could get some certs. that are relevant. Besides, having experience climbing is almost more important than your actual certifications. All that I can tell you is that I would not hire someone with a diploma or degree as a guide without the same excellent experience that I look for from everyone.

It's not that I'm knocking education. I have a diploma in Aviation and I am almost finished a degree in Histiory, it's just that education does not make you a good guide. Let me restate that, no school can make you a good guide. You only get that through experience and a love for doing it.


tempestwind


Dec 20, 2004, 7:21 PM
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Re: Attention!!! Mountian Guides [In reply to]
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In reply to:
Hey climbhoser,
Nice to hear things about me and my company Sierra Wilderness Seminars at least you did say I was a nice guy! So, lets set the stage correctly about guiding and the mountain guiding "Profession".

I have been guiding for over 25 years started assiting when I was 17 years of age, opened SWS in 1981 and have guided up to 180 days per year during the late 80's and early 90's. I have on the order of 1,500 plus guide days in the field. So I have alittle experience.
Taking some time off the last couple of years, doesn't make me a guide anymore, I think not! I will give you the fact that if you stop or slow down any profession it takes some time to get your edge back but it is a quick learning curve!

My businessman side has been very active for the last 3-4 years trying to raise the level from the common preception of "poor mountain guide" to a "professional mountain guide" with a good standard of living. Thanks to the efforts of the AMGA (America Mountain Guides Association) and many other guide companies we are acheiveing this goal. It may take another 5-10 years to get it to the level of other professions but it is happening. My company supports families, so the idea that a family or guiding or is for just single young climbers is wrong!

Yes, I started Mountain Guiding because I loved the mountain, most people start something when they have a passion for it! I love to take people into the mountains and show them the wilderness and places they can't get on their own. Very satifing type of job and it can be financially rewarding as well. It is a life style as well, but it doesn't need to be a the working poor either. You will not get rich owning or working for a guiding company but you will never regret the great experiences and the great people you meet, both clients and colleagues!

Now, for Saskrock, who started all this! If you want to get into mountain guiding by all means do so! You will regret if you don't, but the suggestion to apprentice under someone is a good idea because mountain guiding is not for everyone. The ACMG is an excellent organization and certification should be pursued through them. I am not an expert on the Canadian system, just the American system but Canadian Guides are well respected in the U.S. they also as I understand it have a Union of Mountain Guides which sets the rate of pay to a basic standard of living. Best of luck and I always believe you should pursue your dreams where every they take you!
Best of Luck!!!!

If I may ask you, What is the average time you are usually away from your family? Do you have children? How do you deal with the time away from them> Ex. Ed Veisters when he is in the Himalayas for months at a time> I wonder what it is like to see your children a little or alot more grown since the time you left them to climb. I feel this is a dilemma that faces many a alpine/expedition climber.
Any and All input would be appreciated.

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