I’ve been guiding for many years and every once in a while I am asked what I love about being a guide. For me, this is a hard question to answer. I find lots of rewards in what I do. When I really reflect on what I do, I’d have to say seeing a client grow as a climber is what I enjoy the most.
Some clients only utilize a guide once or twice and that is completely fine. Those individuals may just want try the sport out or maybe tighten up a skill they already have. Even in those situations, I’m able to see them progress. Maybe they have never climbed before, but after a day out with me they now know how to tie different knots, belay and some basic climbing movement. Those individuals now have a better understanding of what climbing is and how to be safe.
Other clients have a long-term goal they are trying to reach and utilize a professionally trained guide to reach those goals. I’ve worked with a number of individuals and those goals are all across the board. I’ve heard everything from someday wanting to climb Everest to someday wanting to climb a multi-pitch rock route. These types of individuals are where I get to see the most gains in their climbing ability.
One individual, let’s call him Pat, contacted our office with interest in doing a half day outing. He had limited climbing knowledge and was interested in learning how to rappel. I ended up being the guide assigned to that work. I’ve now been working with him for a year and a half. He has become more of a friend than a client. When we head out into the field to climb we are able to share ideas, goals and desires. We’re able to really communicate. I’m able to better know where he wants to go in his climbing and help him advance to that goal. Since that first half day outing, Pat has progressed so much. He now has a long list of climbs under his belt. He’s familiar with raising systems, anchors, and has a complete mastery of rappelling. On top of that he now leads trad routes and is quickly on his way to being able to take the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) Single Pitch Instructor course.
As a professionally trained AMGA guide I have been taught skills and systems that are widely accepted as being the standard for safety in climbing. I pass these skills and systems onto my clients, like Pat. Now it’s totally common to run into other recreational climbing parties while I’m out guiding. Many of these other climbing parties are safe but some, in my opinion, are not. When I have a client like Pat with me and he observes these other climbing parties and is able to pick out “non-AMGA” practices, it is a great feeling. I know that he is progressing. He is becoming a better and more competent climber. Now when he starts to teach others how to climb, I have faith that they will be taught the proper skills and systems to be safe.
Regardless if I’m working with someone just once or multiple times over many years, it’s a great feeling to know that these individuals have more tools in their toolbox because of the skills I was able to show them. Seeing that progression in individuals is unbelievable. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy being a guide.
If you care to learn about the sport of climbing or have a long-term goal, I’d love to be your guide. Contact the office and request me.
Enjoy the mountains and be safe out there.
AMGA Certified Rock and Alpine Guide
Colorado Mountain School