When to Get a Climbing Guide

When to Get a Climbing Guide

There’s no shame in hiring a rock climbing guide. If you have the money or the desire, climbing guides can be an incredible way to venture into outdoor climbing. Whether new and wanting to climb outdoors or a veteran needing a climbing partner, a guide can help. Most climbers–especially ego-driven climbers–never consider hiring mountain guides. However, we argue that there are plenty of reasons to hire a guide without hurting your pride. Don’t forget that mountain guides are experts.


American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) certified climbing guides are true professionals. AMGA guides have years of climbing under their belt (many guides have climbed 1000+ routes). They have tons of formal training/schooling in mountaineering and have extensive mountain rescue skills. Further, most climbing guides have ascended “classic” climbing routes hundreds of times, making them the perfect shepherds in the mountains. Mostly, AMGA guides are the quintessential climbing partner for beginner and advanced climbers.


Reasons Why Climbers Might Want to Consider Hiring a Climbing Guide

It’s Your First Outdoor Climb

If you’re brand new to outdoor climbing and don’t have an experienced partner, hiring a climbing guide will almost always be the safest option. Climbing guides are accustomed to taking out climbers of all skill levels, and they will slow down for you to get the hang of things (it’s their job). For new climbers, hiring a guide is a great way to experience climbing without having to be a master of knot tying and rope management. Also, if you’re uncomfortable with the basics, it’s a great way to have a trusty individual double-check your knowledge/skills for your first outing.

You’re Short on Time

Some mega long or ultra classic routes will go much faster with a professional leading the way. Guides have climbed the most famous routes in their area hundreds of times. Not all of us have the days or weeks necessary to familiarize ourselves with tricky terrain. If you only have a couple of days to get up and down the Grand Teton (or a similar long route), a guide will allow you to squeeze that adventure into your two-day weekend.


There’s a Chance You’ll Get Lost


Man holding a map


Some climbing adventures require a significant amount of route finding. Not every rock climb is well marked, and you can easily get lost on many classic climbs. If you think you won’t be able to find the proper route or will spend most of your time confused, it might be worth saving yourself the frustration. It’s not that guides are superhumans, but they usually climb in the same areas so frequently it would be near impossible for them to get off track. Many guides have memorized nearly every hold on popular climbing routes. Not getting lost allows you to enjoy your planned adventure.

You’re in Over Your Head

You might be ready to push yourself, but you don’t have a trustworthy partner for taking the next step. If you don’t have a reliable or experienced climbing partner, a guide might be the perfect temporary boost that you need. Maybe you’re ready to climb a seven-pitch 5.9. If you don’t know if you’re quite there yet, a guide can be the perfect safety net for you to test your skills in the backcountry.

You Need a Mentor

Everyone needs teachers. Most climbers can learn a lot by spending a few hours with a guide. Guides are not the alternative for taking full-length climbing courses. However, they can be an excellent source of expert tips and tricks. Further, guides are generally well-read on the newest and safest techniques for ascending mountains. They’ll help you identify the weakest things you need to work on.


Two climbers


In summary, guides can be a fantastic way to move quickly and safely through mountains and up challenging rock climbs. If you’re a new climber leaving the gym for the first time, a guide can remove the pressure of having to keep track of knots and safety procedures single-handedly while outdoors. For advanced climbers, guides are a fantastic way to push yourself to the next level, squeeze in a challenging climb on a short weekend, or enjoy a challenging route. Regardless of your reason or your skill-level, there’s no doubt that guides are experts who can offer valuable resources.

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