/ Walking with a Guide

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mypyrex - on 19 Sep 2013
When hiring a guide what are the expectations of others as far as the behaviour and conduct of that guide are concerned? What I would be interested to know is whether or not others would be happy to see that guide disappearing into the distance with little or no chance of effective communication with the slowest member of the party.
purplemonkeyelephant - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:

If I didn't feel like I was being guided, I wouldnt pay the guide. If the guy is perpetually in the distance having a natter, then I may as well follow someone else on the trail.
drolex - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex: I have had such an experience once in Mogolia, the guide just wanted to walk alone it seems... We had to take care of the slow walkers ourselves. I was pretty upset and copiously insulted the guide in the evening. It was on an easy part of a trek, but still I expect the guides to take care of the slowest members of the group, even if he has to reduce the pace of the whole group for that.

My experience with guides in other occasions has always been to slow down, even if it is painful to the quickest. And rightly so I think.
mypyrex - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant: Yep! I've just returned from Morocco, on I trip where I was the slowest(no shame there) Invariably the guide was anything up to a quarter of a mile(or further) ahead of me and constantly walking at a faster pace. Had I suffered a mishap I very much doubt whether he would have been aware of my predicament for some considerable time. At one point, on the descent from the Toubkal refuge, he waited and when I caught up with him I stopped to remove a fleece and apply sun cream. No sooner had I removed my rucksack and sat down on a rock that he was off again.

Occasionally(and with tact) I commented about this sort of thing. His comments were along the line "The path is clear, just follow it".

For info, we were a group of four walking as clients of a trekking company.
There were no other guides available to act as a tail end charlie.
mypyrex - on 19 Sep 2013
"...on I trip where I was the slowest..." should read "...on a trip where I was the slowest..."
johncoxmysteriously - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:

No, of course not.

jcm
mypyrex - on 19 Sep 2013
I also discussed the foregoing with the other group members who were all of a similar mind to my own.
highclimber - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex: He's obviously not a guide if he's not guiding you. Name and shame, I say.
IainRUK - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex: Sort of depends.. it can be hard with mixed groups who don't know each other. I had a terrible night/morning on the 3 peaks (national) with a group of coppers who all hated each other.. just small cliques.. So I was back and forth all day, trying to get one lot to say walk to x and wait.. then wait for this one guy who was so slow it was untrue. Took something like 7 hours from PyP and back.. it was like a rep session keeping contact with them all, and as they were the police they knew everything and didn't need a guide.. yet were paying for one. Its the last time I guided the 3 peaks. They'd done it to another guide on Scafell so badly that the organisers refused one group a guide and said just go on their own.

But also some people like to be alone, I do for bits, sometimes like chat, as long as they know the times they need to keep to be done safely then they can go as slow as they like, but if sense they are happy on their own I'll leave them for a while.
JayPee630 - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

Well said. I also think it depends, and be aware that he might have actually had more of an eye on you than you thought and/or might have been engaged with other stuff that needed doing at the front.
mypyrex - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to JayPee630:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
>
> he might have actually had more of an eye on you than you thought

On numerous occasions he and I were out of sight of each other.
Slugain Howff - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:

You see the negative more often than is healthy I'd say.
JayPee630 - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:

I've guided on many things and sometimes been out of sight of clients. Doesn't in itself mean he's doing anything 'wrong'. Was the terrain dangerous or was there something that meant he should have been wary about leaving you to be alone for a bit?
mypyrex - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to JayPee630:
> (In reply to mypyrex)
>
> I've guided on many things and sometimes been out of sight of clients. Doesn't in itself mean he's doing anything 'wrong'. Was the terrain dangerous or was there something that meant he should have been wary about leaving you to be alone for a bit?
It just concerned me that had anythingbefallen me(or anyone else at the rear) he would or could have been oblivious to it.
JayPee630 - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:

Would could have happened to you then? What was the terrain like? Were you just walking on a path?
mypyrex - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to JayPee630:
> (In reply to mypyrex)
>
> I've guided on many things and sometimes been out of sight of clients. Doesn't in itself mean he's doing anything 'wrong'.

I think there can be a difference between being out of sight(for a short period) and being so far apart that communication becomes either difficult or impossible. I had the distinct feeling that he was not fully aware of what was going on "at the back".

mypyrex - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to JayPee630:
> (In reply to mypyrex)
>
> Would could have happened to you then? What was the terrain like? Were you just walking on a path?

A path - yes, but narrow enough in places that a missed footing could have resulted in an accident; or a person may be overtaken by sudden illness
JayPee630 - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:

Overtaken by sudden illness?! Come on, unless someone had a serious ongoing condition that's not really a concern is it?

When you say a missed footing, was there a fall potential, or do you mean just a twisted ankle? If the guide was concerned with your competence to walk without falling off something then you might have needed to be on a rope as walking next to you's not going to help if you trip and plummet to your death. Maybe he thought there was no risk and you were competent enough to follow a path without falling over. And if you did then he realize it pretty soon.
L.A. on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:
Some questions to clarify things
1 Did he have actual guiding qualifications (UIAGM/ BAIML)? or was it just someone who was sent out from the office to 'guide' your trip?
2 Was he a local guide?(Morrocan)
3 Were there Muleteers behind carrying your gear ? or were there other groups descending behind (ie could they phone the 'guide' at the front if necessary)

Jamie B - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

7 hours? That's a quick day's work on the Ben...

To the OP: wasn't there, can't judge, but on the above-mentioned Ben Nevis Track it is not unusual for a leader to be well ahead of the back-markers, at least in benign summer conditions where losing the track is frankly impossible. But we do tend to halt the group regularly to let the slowies catch up.
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IainRUK - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to Jamie B: Aye.. for snowdon you are walking on the spot.. he was proud he never gave up.. but he was a copper/PCSO surely part of his job is chasing criminals.. there must be some element of fitness..
Peter Gillman - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
The guide needs to do more than show the way. He/she needs to be in touch with the group too and especially if weaker members need encouragement. I was once leading a winter walk in Scotland when a party member warned me I was going too fast for the back-markers. It was a salutary reminder of my responsibilities.
Simon Caldwell - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:
> we were a group of four walking as clients of a trekking company.
> There were no other guides available to act as a tail end charlie.

Assuming your group of 4 was just a subgroup of a much bigger party, I'd have said your main complaint should be against the trekking company for not providing sufficient guides.
IainRUK - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to Peter Gillman:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
> The guide needs to do more than show the way. He/she needs to be in touch with the group too and especially if weaker members need encouragement. I was once leading a winter walk in Scotland when a party member warned me I was going too fast for the back-markers. It was a salutary reminder of my responsibilities.

it depends.. a guide is a huge term.. you work with the client how they want you to. But in a group you have to work with them all.

Sometimes I take people out purely for company I think. They just want someone along, have a nice day out. You aren't really guiding at all, tbh on days like that I always feel guilty taking the payment. Others expect to be hand fed the route all day, some just like to be on their own for a while. Especially on say a 20 hour out. Sometimes they just want to be left, othertimes a chat can take their mind off things.

I don't think there is a one rule fits all.
sam benson - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex: The term guided walk especially overseas can mean a whole world of things. It will range from someone being right alongside the group and keeping them all together to someone who is just going to walk along at their own pace occasionally checking the people are still following the same track.
In the first instance look for a company using qualified guides ( big plug for IML etc here) or local guides with experience of groups.
Before you start out explain that you like to walk and take it all in and will stop to take pictures, drink, apply sun-cream etc etc and agree a protocol for stops / junctions / getting temporarily off route etc.
A good leader should give a briefing each morning which should include any areas of danger, route, weather etc
A bit late now but if you felt frustrated , annoyed and cajoled along at the wrong speed you should have said something there and then.
Email the company and tell them, name them if you feel you do not get a satisfactory response.
It usually helps if the guide knows what you want, it is made clear and at the end of the trek everyone is happy and you tip your guide and thank them for as job well done
Will_he_fall - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:
I think the last poster hit the nail on the head- what the term 'guide' means varies around the world. I've worked alongside local guides in a few far away places, and it can mean anything from someone who knows the way (ish) to someone with all of the attributes that would expect in a well trained and competent guide in terms of professionalism and client care.

My personal experience of working alongside a Moroccan 'guide' was somewhat similar to your own- having to manage the pace of my group and the guide occasionally wandering off for some distance ahead, apparently not too concerned about interacting with the group.

I think that perhaps we should be prepared for the local variations in service. If you are booking your trip through a UK company then perhaps there would be some value in checking to see that their expectations of how a guide should act matches your own. If they are selling a guided trek and the impression given is that you will be provided with a guide who will offer a good level of service, and this turns out to not be the case, then I can see that you would have grounds for complaint.

All a tricky area, but perhaps the issue really is that the UK company did not manage your expectations, or did not ensure that the local guide acted in a way that would meet the expectations of it's clients. We could argue all day from our armchairs about whether the guide was 'safe' or not, but really it comes down to whether you felt looked after or not- and if not then the company has failed to meet your (not unreasonable) expectations.
girlymonkey - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex: As some others have said, it can depend a lot on the group, terrain and weather. I sometimes stick with the front of the group, particularly if their are fast people who keep wanting to press on ahead, otherwise they don't stop! So if I stick with them then I can keep stopping them to wait and check on everyone. If I trust the faster ones to stop regularly then I stick towards the back and give the faster ones a time / place to wait at. If conditions are bad or terrain tricky then I keep the whole group at the pace of the slowest so I can closely supervise everyone. It really depends a lot on the day.
mypyrex - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to sam benson, Will_he_fall and girlymonkey: Thanks for your constructive responses. Before departing on the Morocco trip my only experience of being a guided client was in the Himalaya and on neither occasion was I able to find fault - and that was with two different UK based companies. Yes, the parties were spaced out but, importantly, the last and slowest person (me!) did not feel isolated and detached. This was because there was always a competent member of the trekking crew bringing up the rear. Not only did he walk with you but he conversed as well and pointed out things of interest. OK, with a party of only four maybe a tail end charlie was not warranted but in that case I think it was all the more important for the guide to keep the party in closer proximity. I did indeed make subtle comments about the way he was conducting the trek but, as I said before, his response was invariably that all I had to do was follow the path. This morning I emailed a friend who has guided in many mountainous areas, including the Himalaya. He fully concurred that this chap's attitude was unprofessional. I have written a letter to the(supposedly reputable) company.
JayPee630 - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:


Not sure how he (your guide friend) can say that without hearing both sides of the story or knowing the detail; as as someone has rightly pointed out, it just depends on the context/terrain/clients/etc..

I'm still not exactly sure what you're moaning about. You didn't seem to be at risk from anything (apart from a mystery sudden illness...) and the guide explained to you that the path was simple and to just follow it. If you didn't want to be left alone maybe you should have stated that clearly, but then that might have meant he had to slow the faster members of the groups down.
mypyrex - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to JayPee630: Well your concept of how a guide should conduct a trek is obviously different to mine. Incidentally I speak as one who has, in the past, instructed people in hill walking, mountaineering and mountain leadership.
JayPee630 - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:

Well there obviously seems to be a difference of opinion between you and the guide, but as none of us were there it's hard to say what was best. Seems a bit odd to come on here and ask questions/moan about something we can't judge, so why don't you just write to the company and see what they say.




Jamie B - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:

> I speak as one who has in the past instructed people in hill walking, mountaineering and mountain leadership.

You're an instructor/leader and you need to ask the question?

JayPee630 - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to Jamie B:

Yes, it's a bit odd. And also a leader that hires a leader on a simple trek and then is worried when he gets left at the back of the group incase he gets a sudden illness or trips over?!

Is this for real?
Nath93 - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex: You're only ever as fast as the last man in the group.
mypyrex - on 21 Sep 2013
In reply to JayPee630:
> (In reply to mypyrex)
>
> so why don't you just write to the company and see what they say.

If you'd taken the trouble to read an earlier comment you would have seen that I've done precisely that.

mypyrex - on 21 Sep 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to mypyrex)
>
> [...]
>
> You're an instructor/leader and you need to ask the question?

"...who has in the past..."

There are also all sorts of reasons as to why somebody might wish to undertake a trek through a company and accompanied by a guide.

mypyrex - on 21 Sep 2013
Some replies to my OP have been intelligent, constructive and useful. As is usual for UKC there have been those who have taken the opportunity to argue the toss about something of which I suspect they probably have little knowledge.

End Of.
Gael Force - on 21 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex: I think you need to keep off the pies and keep up, also why would anybody need a guide on Toubkal in summer, it's about as difficult as walking down Princess Street.
TOS on 21 Sep 2013 - 10.24.235.250 [dab-bhx1-h-76-7.dab.02.net]
In reply to mypyrex:
>
> There are also all sorts of reasons as to why somebody might wish to undertake a trek through a company and accompanied by a guide.

This is true, but the point being made is that a guide or instructor (former or active) wouldn't need to ask the question you did...
IainRUK - on 21 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:
> (In reply to Jamie B)
> [...]
>
> "...who has in the past..."
>
> There are also all sorts of reasons as to why somebody might wish to undertake a trek through a company and accompanied by a guide.

I agree with the others.. sorry. But you were just at the back, thats only an issue for you. You also assume he wasn't keeping an eye on you.. he just has to glance back every few minutes, you could have missed that. If an ML yourself you should be fine on your own. I'm seriously doubting you've taught ML's though, you don't come across as overly experienced. Scouts?

If its a mixed group I always have a chat at the start about pace, I'm fine with people spreading out but like the group to regroup every hour or so, so normally explain the route and where we will be stopping so people can just set their own pace. There are no hard and fast rules to guiding though, a few on here seem to think there is, you just tailor your style to the client. So some days you are a very different guide, sometimes more of a companion, sometimes an instructor.
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JayPee630 - on 21 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:

Yes, and what did they say then?
ice.solo - on 21 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:

when guiding i have dozens of things to do, observing the progress of the team being only of them. i keep an unobtrusive eye out, assist where needed, and attend to all the other stuff, some of which requires me being well ahead of the rest.

i also respect that the client didnt come to walk next to me, so i give them the space to make their own choices so long as it fits into the objective.

true, some guides are just shit. but not all. their job is to get you where you paid to go, which it seems they did.
L.A. on 21 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex: Hope this doesnt sound too harsh but having read some of your recent postings ( How far is it from the airport to Marrakesh? What restaurant should I eat in when in Marrakesh? Where should I park at Stanstead? Where should I stay @ Stanstead? Should I stay in a hotel on my return to Stanstead?,What size cabin baggage can I take? etc etc ) I can see why this thread has probably happened.

Yes I also need to get a life !
Dave Perry - on 25 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex:

I'm not a mountain guide, but I am a tour guide and an ML. I've lead quite a few walking groups on things like the coast to coast (I live at one end!)

There isn't one prescriptive 'do it this way' sort of guide. I always make sure that I talk to everyone and find out what their interests are so I can point out things they may be interested in on the way. Others are just interested in going as quick as possible to the next check point, B& B whatever. Some are obviously just happy walking with their partner, others like going off ahead regardless of the pace of the rest of the group, others tend to go a bit slower for various reasons. (loo breaks being one).

So if someone is going too far ahead I'll ask them to wait at some obvious point ahead, although sometimes you feel like banging their heads together when you've asked them to slow down yet again, other times you've got to encourage the slower ones to be a bit quicker if you;ve got a pick up or B& B to reach by a certain tim,e and so on.

Obviously its up to you as the person in charge to make sure people are safe, but if you've got to know the group you've got to make judgements along the way. So sometimes the group does get spread out and folk are out of sight.

As long as I can answer the "What if this happens" question then I am doing my job even if that means sometimes I'm walking on my own at the back, middle, front or simply on my own letting people chat amongst themselves whilst I concentrate on admin, map reading, looking out for hazards, what the weather is doing and so on.
m0unt41n on 28 Sep 2013
In reply to mypyrex: With groups it is not just the leader / guide that should make a commitment to the group to be aware of and look after everyone in it.

It is also all the members who basically agree to conform to the group average.

So anyone going too quickly or too slowly for the groupís average pace and does not or cannot or will not change should not be part of that group but instead should find a quicker or slower group.

With Treks in countries where labour is cheap, companies can provide back markers for anyone who is particularly slow. But elsewhere if you want this service then you will need to arrange for it and pay for it with the trek company.

It is a bit unclear whether or not you were significantly and consistently slow, always at the back, and therefore needing the whole group to slow down. If so then it is unfair to expect a leader to have to keep dropping back to check on you when the rest of the group is ahead. You should have speeded up to match the group, after all you joined it on the holiday, they didnít join you on your holiday and your pace.

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