7 years, Australia
Mount Mont Blanc, for instance, which may be considered the beaten track for the professional mountain guide, is often called the ‘White Killer’ seeing as it causes deaths every year.
Every professional mountain guide has own basic rules; vital truths discovered through hard practice in the field. Some may consider these truths as valuable as some skills taught at mountain guide schools.
Mountain Planet has conducted interviews with 10 mountain leaders registered on mountainplanet.com to identify 10 major Dos and Don’ts in the profession.
We combined all the answers and pulled out ten vitally important truths which might be interesting for both mountain guide professionals and those who are making first steps in becoming mountain guides.
Yes, we expect something like “Hey, I know all of it!” but let’s go over it together just to check how well we remember it.
Be cautious and escape traumas in every possible way. Clients’ safety depends on the mountain guide’s ability to perform his/her job at the highest professional level. Even microtraumas can create unnecessary risks. For this reason, mountain guides need to invest in first class gear, make sure they have extra supplies (e.g. having extra supplies of bottled oxygen is very crucial when summiting Mount Everest with clients), be physically fit and go through medical examination on a regular basis.
Talk to the client after the adventure. Mountain guides need feedback from clients to help identify strengths and weaknesses. Make it a rule. Sometimes criticism is the best motivation. The conversation may not always be a pleasant one, but this will help you grow professionally.
Take time to discuss plans with the group. Briefings every morning will help everyone understand the itinerary and prepare themselves for the route. By sharing plans, you send a message to your clients: you take care of them, appreciate their company and want to help them acquire new experiences.
Be serious. An expedition is no place for fooling around and showing off. A mountain guide needs to be a coach and treat the clients like own children. Keep your word and stay confident. A client does not want to see you upset, weak or having addictions. As you know, mountaineering is a highly risky activity which depends on team work. And the team needs a leader to follow.
Sell outdoor activities emotionally. Share your passion with the client. Educate your clients on how to act in the mountains, expose them to the wonders of nature. Mountain guiding is where technical skills meet true passion. Just keep it in mind. It will help to better promote your services and engage new members into the Alpine Community.
Set good examples for your client. This relates to physical strength and ability to endure physical exhaustion. In short, the mountain guide needs to be a good sport, figuratively and otherwise. This is why exercising is essential for mountain guide training. In general, certified mountain guides are required to go through examination and evaluation of their skills and physical condition once in 3-5 years.
Don’t be arrogant. Your clients won’t like it and will treat you accordingly. Do not pretend to know everything. On the contrary, ask for clients’ opinion. Sometimes people who keep bossing others around fail to see vital things. It may sound strange, but clients may also share some good thoughts and insights on the climb.
Get to know your client in advance. Climbing is no place for unexpected discoveries. Always identify clients’ goals and study his mountain experience before striking a deal. What kind of climbs has your client done? Whose mountain guide service was he using? This is where mountainplanet.com can help you to find a guide your client used before and get feedback. Who knows, you might learn something to make you reconsider leading him.
Don’t argue with the client. This can be the worst thing to happen. If it happens, find a moment to sit together and sort it out. You need to be confident your client won’t fail you. There could be moments when your life may depend on your client’s performance and willingness to help.
The client entrusts you with his life. Clients’ safety is the ultimate priority and there may be no second chance. Every mountain guide should remember that.
Mountain Planet wants to help mountain guides and clients communicate and locate each other better. Mountainplanet.com is a global geo-informational social network for the Alpine Community which features a number of profiles of outdoor enthusiasts and essential information about routes, gear, itineraries, etc.
Registered members on mountainplanet.com can post feedbacks on tours, service providers, and rate mountain guides’ performance. By contributing this essential information, our members help us make the mountains safer and accessible to people who are looking for memorable mountain experiences.