/ Becoming a guide.

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TRip - on 04 Oct 2016
Every so I often I see a post on here asking about becoming a Mountain Guide. I'm not a Guide yet but have just begun the BMG training scheme after getting accepted back in June. I've written a blog explaining the journey I've been on ticking the remaining pre requirements. Hopefully folk considering the same path will find this interesting.

http://tomripleyclimbing.blogspot.fr/2016/10/completing-british-mountain-guides-pre.html?m=1
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Chris Craggs - on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

I enjoyed that - best of luck with it,


Chris
jon on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Best of luck to you, Tom.
tk421 on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Good read, great effort, all the best for the rest of it!
L.A. on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip: Really enjoyable and informative read Tom All the best with this choice


jezb1 - on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Nice one Tom
AdamCB - on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Great stuff, best of luck. A profession to be genuinely proud of I reckon.
Jimboandrews. - on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Good read. Good luck and enjoy! Wish I had the time!
abseil on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Great blog, thanks, useful and thoughtful.

Lots of luck to you!
Harry Ellis - on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Good read Tom, best of luck !
Misha - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:
Thanks Tom and best of luck, will be following your progress!
Jim Walton on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:
Best of Luck Tom
EuanM - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Really enjoyable read.

To be honest, I hadn't appreciated the number of difficult routes that are required.

Best of luck!
JohnnyW - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Hello Tom, and thanks for sharing that with us.

I really enjoy watching you and Will Sim's progress after I spent that night at the Aiguille de Midi station sharing your soup and Mars Bars - The contrast of your youth and competence compared to our age and bumbliness at getting benighted on such simple routes as the Point Lachenal followed by the Cosmiques was stark! ;)

Good luck with it all, you'll be excellent...............

John
Robert Durran - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to EuanM:

> To be honest, I hadn't appreciated the number of difficult routes that are required.

In some ways it strikes me as surprisingly few!
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EuanM - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:
I guess it was the required grades I didn't expect. British trad E3 (recommended) and alpine TD.

No reason why it shouldn't be. I've just never looked into before.
Post edited at 13:54
jon on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

Don't forget the Corn Flakes box tops...
Rick Graham on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

What I did not expect was that "soloed" routes do not count and "Major " summit was not defined.

I also thought one had to be able to climb a reasonable rock standard in "big " boots, B3 to those of you under 50.
Robert Durran - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to jon:

> Don't forget the Corn Flakes box tops...

??
Dave Perry - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Nice summary and I hope you do well on your journey.
galpinos on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

That's what I thought too.

wbo - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:
Interesting to read. Well done, and good luck
MG - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

> In some ways it strikes me as surprisingly few!

Seems pretty challenging in breadth and depth to me for a 20 something year old as a prerequisite

Best of luck Tom!
Misha - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to Rick Graham:

I think on the rock assessment you have to do a VS in big boots.
galpinos on 06 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Nice blog that Tom. Good luck.
jon on 06 Oct 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

> ??

Come on Rob, you're old enough to remember that...
pneame on 06 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Interesting. A lot of work. As you say, it's important to enjoy it.
And good luck!

I thought to myself some time ago "he'll go for becoming a guide and be great..."
ClimberEd - on 06 Oct 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

> In some ways it strikes me as surprisingly few!

Does it?

What about being very competent and safe in the mountains on all terrain but only climbing up to, say, E2.
Should this mean that you shouldn't be able to qualify as a guide?

I would suggest that you should be able to.

Of course, the different countries' guide schemes have different entry requirements, despite the equivalent final qualification.
Robert Durran - on 06 Oct 2016
In reply to ClimberEd:

> Does it?

> What about being very competent and safe in the mountains on all terrain but only climbing up to, say, E2.

It was the, to me, surprisingly few number of routes required rather than the grades I commented on. And being competent and safe probably comes more from quantity of routes than grades. So I agree with you - as long as guides know and stay very well within their personal technical limits while guiding.
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ClimberEd - on 06 Oct 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

Yes, fair enough, although I think there is probably a bit of a 'pyramid' assumption, in that if you have done that number of routes at those grades then you have done many more at easier ones (not always the case I know)
Stuart the postie - on 06 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Hi Tom,

For someone who was young and naive, continues to grow, amongst the mountains and earn my respect!!

Regards

Stuart

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TRip - on 09 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

Thanks for the kind word everyone. Glad folk found it interesting.
Simon4 - on 09 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:
Well my 2 pennyworth Tom is to say :

1. Continue enjoying being in the mountains, don't become jaded or start to regard it as an office.

An Italian guide who was recovering from blood cancer when he was 62 who I met a few years ago, is an inspiration in this regard, his attitude was as fresh and naive as a 20 year old, his simple delight in being in the high alps was a joy to behold. He just LOVED the mountains in all their moods and aspects, try to emulate.

2. Despite the vast skill level you will need to acquire to pass, continue to think about how your clients will feel as they undertake something that will fully stretch their limits to do something which will be ridiculously easy for you, and try to understand how they are feeling. Try to encourage them and support them even when their problems seem absurd and childish to you.

3. You will have to be take inexperienced, unfit and possibly dangerous people out on routes that will feel ludicrously easy to you, do not either become arrogant or let your concentration falter (assuming you pass the hurdles that is). The total responsibility for the safety of the party that you will have to assume is awe inspiring, you can not rely on ANY competence or sense from your clients. Try not to burn out or become cynical as a result.

4.You will never make a fortune from guiding, it is possibly the worst paid very dangerous job in the world. Your bread and butter will NOT be from heroic, extreme Alpine routes, but from mundane, but still risky ordinary routes.
Post edited at 22:26
1
lordyosch - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to TRip:

I enjoyed reading that, thank you for sharing.

If I was twenty years younger and fifty times braver...


Jay
jcw on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to Simon4:
Don't agree with three, though I see the point you are trying to make. I think it is very Important for a guide to build a good rapport with a client so as to know just what he/she can and cannot be relied on. In this way they can go and do adventurous things and form something of a team, even though the guide remains in command. I know an increasing number of very good alpinists who have reached advancing age who now climb with guides since they can no longer find or rely on a regular partner and themselves start feeling their own abilities waning. I have in mind one exceptionally experienced mountaineer who any good guide would lean over backwards to have as a client. Building up a regular clientele should also be an aim of becoming a guide.
Post edited at 10:28
Simon4 - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to jcw:

> Don't agree with three, though I see the point you are trying to make. I think it is very Important for a guide to build a good rapport with a client so as to know just what he/she can and cannot be relied on.

Well I agree that is the ideal situation, and there is no doubt that it sometimes happens. For example, the Italian guide that I referred to clearly knew his clients and their capacities well - he predicted that they would start the walk-in too late, finishing up climbing the 1700m grind in the full heat of the sun, and they did and were pretty knackered and boiled by the time they got to the very high bivi hut (3200m). He (and I), had started the climb out of the valley pretty early in the morning, when it was pleasantly cool, also we had a pleasant stroll up, chatting while walking at his carefully measured pace.

> I know an increasing number of very good alpinists who have reached advancing age who now climb with guides since they ... themselves start feeling their own abilities waning.

So you were watching me climb the Täschhorn this Summer then? (not that I was ever a "very good alpinist").

Simon4 - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to jcw:
> I think it is very Important for a guide to build a good rapport with a client so as to know just what he/she can and cannot be relied on.

I think one insidious problem which I was partly trying to warn Tom against, was that as the technical standards required to qualify as a guide get ever more demanding, some of the work can be quite mundane. So they think (with some justification),that they are super Alpine hotshots, how can they be asked to take naive punters up the normal route on Mont Blanc du Tacul? But that is often their bread and butter, and I suspect that in places like Chamonix, the young junior guides get lumbered with this sort of mundane baby-sitting routes, while the more experienced and senior get the more challenging, interesting routes, with competent and experienced clients. Certainly that used to be the case, and one particular incident strongly reinforced the view that it still is.

I had in mind an incident on Mont Maudit, where I was aclimitising badly and not functioning terribly well and at the very summit was more or less physically shoved aside by a literally pushy, French guide. He then came face to face with my partner Wayne, 6' 4" and never the most mild-mannered of people, who had very clearly seen this performance. The guide clearly thought about confronting him, but realised that Wayne was NOT going to back down and a punch-up at 4500m was really not a good idea, not least because he would probably lose.

We later found it hilariously funny when he misled his party on the descent and finished up in a dead end above some towering seracs, so he had to delicately retread his steps. This was followed by some more outrageous behaviour, which his clients didn't even seem to see how bad it was.

Obviously this is a particularly egregious example of bad behaviour, by a young, headstrong and pretty irresponsible guide. On the other hand, we were pleasantly surprised by meeting a very amenable Swiss guide this Summer, who gave us some very helpful tips for how to climb the Schreckhorn and was generally an all round nice chap. I say this despite the Swiss not being normally my favorite people, I tend to find them anal and rule-obsessed.

So perhaps guides are just like other people, some of them are fine, some are a holes, but you tend to remember the a holes more than the others, rather like a cyclist remembering the 1% of dangerous, aggressive drivers and not noticing the vast majority of perfectly well behaved ones.
Post edited at 10:58
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