I couldn't agree more with ya on this, Chief. I've been looking more seriously (the last year) into getting into professional guiding since I'm having a mid-life crisis sans money. I've taken folks out into the hills for free (as friends) and guided (for a fee) for the last few years. All the creds any school can bestow upon one doesn't mean shit if you can't relate or try to relate with your clients. Something else I've noticed...guiding without the attitude (ego) that comes naturally with the profession takes practice to leave at home. Like you said, "People skills are paramount."
It really irks me when someone on a forum says, "Oh, I've taken an avy-1 course" or "I'm CPR certified." And.....your point is? I usually counter with a question. "So. Since you have 'experience', what do you do with someone suffering from AMS on a 5.7 pitch? How do you set up your repel? Knots? Or, "How do you proceed when you have deep, multi-layered faceting in a dry snowpack even though the CAIC (Colorado) states moderate potential for slides?"
To me, certs don't mean shit. I look ONLY
for experience (in potential partners). All the instruction, books, advice in the world pale in comparison to actually getting out in the field and seeing first-hand.
Last March, I unfortunately had to endure a painful and very hard lesson myself. While hiking in Southern Colorado in the southern Sangre de Cristo Range, my partner and I became seperated. He wanted to continue along this ridge we were following while I wanted to turn back. Weather was foul all day, windy and squalls of snow. In the 15 minutes we were seperated (while he decided to likewise, turn and call it), a massive cloudbank came up and created whiteout conditions. Since I don't carry GPS with me in the backcountry (prefer map, compass, acumen), I got lost & descended the wrong ridge. It was mostly my fault for leaving w/o him. But what he still to this day doesn't understand, is why I didn't continue to wander around and look. Apparently, 'staying put until better weather' isn't in his vocabulary.
I ended up spending an alpine bivy at 12,800ft in the talus during a storm with ONLY a 15° sleeping bag. For 16 hours, I was positive that was it for me. I had a serious talk with the man upstairs. 'If this was going to be it, then let's get this shit over with now' [almost verbatim what I said quietly to myself].
Next morning (around 10:30am), the clouds parted just enough that I could see the ridge I actually needed. I hiked the 9 miles out and back down to the road where a county sheriff was waiting (hopefully) for a lost hiker. I finally met up with my friends at the cop shop around 9:00pm that night, filled out reports etc. The cops thought my buddies actually killed me and left me on the ridge. They were under suspicion for two days and told explicitly to "stick around town." I went three solid days without sleep.
I bring this up because like Chief said, if you were to hire a guide (which I don't have a problem with) or become a guide
, how do you instill experiences and lessons like this into someone who only knows maybe, a minority of their wisdom from classes, books & advice? Answer is, you can't.
If you hire a guide, you're not paying for their experience...you're paying for their wisdom. BIG DIFFERENCE
If you become a guide, you do so because you have a passion for the wilderness, for the wilds...NOT for bragging rights or money (lack of).
You pay for someone's ability to keep a calm head & think rationally when the weather forces an emergency bivy & the chips are down (using my own situation)
I often think of the mountain guide as a mountainous version of the American cowboy. Either way, both pay shit but both are rich in philosophical insights, a deep and pure sense of earning one's pay honestly and seemingly romanticized by everyone else.
Your intent as a guide is not in climbing for your benefit. It's for the benefit of your clients. It's a true labour of love
I'll more than likely take some courses this winter for my avy-1 and 2 certs. This summer, for single and multi-pitch trad and WFR.
Unless you have those damn letters after your name, no one gives a shit what you've done or what you can do. Plus, one should integrate the lessons with their own identity, personality anyway. I hate cookie-cutter types. But that's what you get with formalized institutions.
I'd be interested to hear what [Kurt Wedberg] has to say about this. Jukka
I'd LOVE to move to Finland! I have family there and am myself at least half Finnish.
Though learning that language is like pulling taffy from teeth. Learning the sentence structure of
Icelandic is easier (I think).
The Chief wrote:There is absolutely NO Guide School/Instructional Service out there that will prepare you for Personal Interactions with your client/s nor confronting the obvious emergency situ that you will encounter. People Skills are paramount. That is a given.
You can have all the Certs in the Industry. Not one of them will help when shit hits the fan or you encounter a totally obnoxious/irate client.
We have a saying in the Guiding Community.... Not every 5.14 Climber can be a Guide. Nor is a Guide always a 5.14 Climber.