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Thread: Cost Effective Hiking and Climbing?

  1. #1
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Cost Effective Hiking and Climbing?

    As of late their seems to be alot of Questions about so called "Guided Services" for Hiking and Climbing. I would be interested to hear about your experiences as a "Client" if you have been "Guided" or if you choose to Hike or Climb on your own. I have gone both ways over the years and have had success and failures in both areas.Personally I think the Guiding Industry has become very exploited...not to say that the right GUY or GAL canít show you the "WAY".
    It just seems like sometimes you have to do it on your own and other times you may need some help.Unfortunately I find that hiking and climbing cost something both Financially and Personally. What works for YOU?
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  2. #2
    Sherpa John
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    I have often thought of actually starting a white mountain Guide Service but I was never really sure how it would take off... oh and it costs $$...

    My thought on it as a whole is, there will always be folks out there with a smaller desire for adventure than others. They don't have the time or knowledge to get out there on their own and plan an all out trip and embark on such.

    I guess I feel that there are families out there who desire some White Mountain (or other range) adventure as a family activity, and choose to be safer by seeking out a guide for the trip. I think its a rather smart move.

    Why? Because the guide could help your family prepare for the trip by ensuring you pack the right gear and come prepared. or Perhaps he/she hooks you up with proper gear rentals. Then the guide knows what trails are suitable for your entire party and makes the trip enjoyable for all.

    I think its a wonderful idea.

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    I have used a guide service for some climbs in WA; Mt.Olympus, Mt.Shuksan, Glacier Peak, all of these trips required some technical ice and rock skills, my son was with me on these trips, so I felt the need to get the local knowledge and experience that a professional guide could provide. I have been very satisfied with the experience. In addition to the climb itself, the guide gave us lessons in glacier travel, self arrest, rock climbing, mountain safety, and mountain ethics. For me it's the way to go.

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    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    I took a 6 day glacier climbing and crevasse rescue class about 15 years ago on Mt. Baker with American Alpine Institute. They were very professional and the class was worthwhile (picked up a lot of good info).

    Today, I don't use guides for skills. But I would use a guide if I was going somewhere unfamiliar, where route finding was difficult, and I had limited time (ie no time to try again if I screwed up the route finding on my own). In that case, a guide can really help you get to an objective you might miss on your own. For example, I would love to climb the Eiger North face if and when it comes back into condition. I would have limited time for that, and I would absolutely use a guide, even though the technical difficulty of the pitches is not that high.

    For skills training, guides are good, but they can be costly. Many of the basic skills can be picked up less expensively through mountain clubs and through volunteering for search and rescue groups. Learning from a guide would be quicker, though, if you had a trip that was coming up.

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    Senior Member rhihn's Avatar
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    We used one once, for a week-long backpack trip in the Yukon, which involved a fly-in to a lake to start the trip. Going to an area with which we were so completely unfamiliar, we thought it might be best to use one. If we were to do a similar trip again (and we might!), I think we would consider doing it on our own (except for the fly-in!).
    Dick

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    Senior Member jbrown's Avatar
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    For the trips that I have always done with my group of friends and close relations, I have acted as a sort of guide. I plan the itinerary, give out gear lists, allocate gear, arrange rentals sometimes, and I used to plan the menu. On the trail, I was the one with the map, takking point all the time, calling the rests, answering the questions... The guys are rapidly becoming more self sufficient, but now there are more friends who hear about our trips and would like to be involved, so I find myself in the same situation again. Man, I should charge them...
    (I would never, I do it to share my love of backpacking with my favorite people. If only I could get my wife to come with me...)
    He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earthó the LORD God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:13

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    Senior Member forestgnome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherpa John
    I guess I feel that there are families out there who desire some White Mountain (or other range) adventure as a family activity, and choose to be safer by seeking out a guide for the trip. I think its a rather smart move.

    Why? Because the guide could help your family prepare for the trip by ensuring you pack the right gear and come prepared. or Perhaps he/she hooks you up with proper gear rentals. Then the guide knows what trails are suitable for your entire party and makes the trip enjoyable for all.

    I think its a wonderful idea.

    Agreed. It would be a good idea for people unfamiliar with the whole endevour.

    Personally, I would never use a guide in the northeast. But I would read about any trail I've never hiked. There's plenty of info available.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Warren's Avatar
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    I used the above mentioned AAI for glacier training. It felt funny doing so then, still does a bit as I've learned through trail and error and never in a formal manner. Just didn't want to learn error on glacier....

    It was OK, they emphasize self sufficiency; everyone cooked thier own food and traveled independently, only the climbing gear being shared. I did pick up a lot of skills, the reason I was there so that was good. I'd much rather learn these things on my own or for from friends but that takes more time, a guided course was a short cut that worth it for me.

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    Senior Member Blue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherpa John

    Why? Because the guide could help your family prepare for the trip by ensuring you pack the right gear and come prepared. or Perhaps he/she hooks you up with proper gear rentals. Then the guide knows what trails are suitable for your entire party and makes the trip enjoyable for all.

    I think its a wonderful idea.
    Yeah, I've thought a lot about leading all female trips. In the past few years, I've been taking women on hikes into the Whites to raise money for a domestic violence charity (http://www.elizabethstonehouse.org/) and I've seen that ear to ear smile when they reach a summit or have great views. One of my favorite experiences was seeing a young woman on the rainy, cloudy and foggy summit of Chocorua jumping up and down for joy that she made it. Another was a woman who had a really tough time on Mt. Monadnock and a few months later stood on Mt. Washington on a beautiful day with a big smile.

    I wish I could do it , but I'm not sure how much interest is really out there and if it would really work.

  10. #10
    Senior Member pudgy_groundhog's Avatar
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    I've never had a guide for hiking/backpacking, but when my husband and I were in New Zealand we did several guided trips. One was a three day kayaking trip and the other was a ten day mountaineering course. Both were fantastic. Doing the guided kayak trip was more for local knowledge (and we aren't experienced kayakers) and the mountaineering was mostly for learning skills, as well as knowledge of the area.

    Blue, I think your idea sounds interesting!

  11. #11
    Senior Member giggy's Avatar
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    This is greatt thread!

    I think guides are great for classes and instruction for techinical skills. I see no reason why anyone would pay top dollar to lead them up the very easy route finding areas of the whites, but whatever. Lets face it - most trails are not hard to follow IMHO.

    I have seen some places charged 100++ bucks to take folks up laffeyette via old bridal path and non-technical routes on washington - I think that is crazy, but that is just me. Technical routes - smart to use guide to learn the ropes, butt once you git the skills - I say go for it yourself - start easy and build from there.

    On easy routes - I think your better off with trial and error. It took me a few years to get to the top of washington in the winter becuase I would only go so far and then went it got hairy turn back - next time a bit farther,(more comfortable). etc..... Now - washington is pretty easy to me (once you know the routes, etc....) To me - when I finally got to the top in winter - it was so much more rewarding becuase I did it myself.

    And lets face it, guides are not not cheap (nor should they be as it is a skill they teach). These days with simple housing expenses are basically eating up entire paychecks - I think my days with guides are over for now. Got to learn new things by book and trial and error. start easy and work your way up.

    For example - going to rainier this summer and I wrestled with the idea of a guide service and finally decided not to use one. I will do a one day seminar for glaicer travel (with local outfit there) and them try my luck unguided - had I just decided to climb rainier as my first outing outdoors - then yes- guide would be the way to go, but I am comfortable with my skills (and those I am going with) on snow/ice.

    I mean this is a risk sport and you have to take chances sometimes - if you never try - you never make it. but you have to be willing to turn around and in this day and age - people want and have to be the best right away and I think that is the attitude that creates problems more than anything.


    so - use guides to learn skills and then DIY!!!

    I have used guide services 2 times in the last 5 years for snow/ice climbing and one was ok and one was top notch. (won't say which was which!!)

  12. #12
    Senior Member Toe Cozy's Avatar
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    I've used a guided service for two things in the outdoor world. One was a 5 day sea kayaking trip on the west coast of British Columbia. I didn't know anything about sea kayaking and nothing about British Columbia. It was an outfit operated by just two people and it was fantastic. Gave my husband and I time to just enjoy being outdoors in a completely new environment. Best vacation I ever took.

    The second guided trip kind of doesn't count in this exact category as it was a 4 day schooner trip off the coast of Maine. But again, gave the opportunity to experience something completely different from my usual routine without worrying about all the details.

    From these two experiences I've come to believe that in general smaller group sizes are way, way better and that perhaps even smaller organizations (smaller guide services) are preferable to larger ones.

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    Senior Member NewHampshire's Avatar
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    I think it might be pretty popular. Why? Because if I want to trout fish I siply open up the gazateer and pick a nice spot and go. But the fishing guides in this state still manage to make decent money. So someone, somwhere at sometime feels it is easier to spend money for quick results (not that this is necessarily a bad thing.)
    Brian

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    Member Mark_Goodearl's Avatar
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    Family Planning :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherpa John
    there are families out there who desire some White Mountain adventure as a family activity, and choose to be safer by seeking out a guide for the trip. I think its a rather smart move. Why? Because the guide could help your family prepare for the trip by ensuring you pack the right gear and come prepared.
    There is a group of experienced families and volunteer leaders (consider them free guides) from the AMC NH Chapter who do exactly that. If you know of families who would like to get off the couch but just aren't sure how to go about doing so, have them connect with us at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NHAMCFamilyGroup/

  15. #15
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Thanks Folks for all the very interesting responses to this thread. I must say that I can definitely echo many of the feelings that people have expressed not to mention the comprehensiveness of the issues people have brought forth.
    I had a very bad experience with an accredited Guide Service about six years ago.
    This Guide Service was fully accredited (AMGA and IMGA Certified). Collectively there experience was congruent to the trip that was at hand. Unfortunately what looked good on paper and sounded good over the phone turn out to be much different in practice.
    For those of you that have used a Guide what have been your Criteria for insuring that you are getting what you are looking for? I have spent way more time in the Mountains on my own than I will probably ever spend with a Guide. Although I have found that logistically that sometimes having a Guide can prove prudent especially on bigger expeditions, especially if it is in a Foreign Country.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

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