Heading out for a trip into the mountains, whether it is for something as simple as hiking or as complex as ski mountaineering, is a great way to spend a long weekend or hard-earned holiday.
Getting into the great outdoors is a chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure while experiencing nature’s incredible beauty and diversity. Any mountain-bound holiday will also provide some excellent exercise along with the perfect atmosphere in which to de-stress.
However, every trip into the mountains entails a certain amount of risk. At higher elevations, both the weather and integrity of the terrain can change at a moment’s notice, which can quickly turn a holiday adventure into a risky situation. This is where hiring a professional guide comes into play.
At Explore-Share we believe that outdoor adventures enrich people’s lives and that hiring experienced local guides make them truly unique. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider hiring a guide for your next adventure:
- Certified mountain guides and leaders are experts in their field. They have been extensively trained in how to read and mitigate risky situations. Besides, they know exactly which equipment to bring on a trip as well as how best to use it. Above all, their first and foremost priority is to keep you safe and make the best decisions in difficult situations.
- They know the terrain and will take you to the safest areas. If you are heading out into the backcountry, whether it is a snowshoeing trip or mountaineering expedition, hiring a local and certified mountain guide is always for the best. Even if you have years of experience in your respective sport and have taken safety training courses, such as avalanche and self-rescue, certified guides will have an in-depth knowledge of the local terrain and be able to guide you safely through it.
- Guides can help you to make the most of your limited time and take you to the spots with the best conditions. Guides generally work together in networks, so when you hire one guide, you are tapping into a much larger collective knowledge. This can help you to figure out where the best powder is on any given day or whether a trail on a mountain slope has become impassable, all of which will prevent you from wasting your precious free time. Since guides spend most of their time outside in the local area, they also know the best spots. Nothing ruins the romance of the wilderness like too many people on a mountain ridge. Hiring a local guide is the best way to avoid the crowds and enjoy a sublime mountain experience.
- Guides can help you out with the logistics of your trip. While they certainly are not your travel agent and should not be assumed to fill that role, many guides will act in a similar capacity, making reservations at mountain huts, recommending great restaurants with local cuisine and communicating with the local people to get more information about whatever outdoor objective you have your mind set on. If you do not speak the local language of the place to which you are traveling, it is also immensely helpful to be with someone who does.
- Mountain guides make for great traveling companions. They are often quite knowledgeable and social, willing to swap stories with you about different adventures. Hiring a guide is a great way to connect to a local and create a sometimes long-lasting bond.
- They can help you improve your skills. Guides are also great sources of advice for improving your climbing, skiing or snowshoeing skills. Whether it is your first time in crampons or your hundredth backcountry skiing tour, they will be able to help you learn and improve your skills. Along with being teachers, guides can be great listeners. Taking in what you want to do and providing feedback and encouragement. Occasionally, they may even push you to accomplish things you hadn’t thought possible.
- Guides can teach you about local culture & history. Mountain guides will tell you all about the area’s history and will introduce you to their culture. This can be especially enriching when visiting a more off-the-beaten-path or exotic destination.
So, these are just a few of the reasons why you should think of hiring a mountain guide. They will keep you safe and ease the logistical challenges of traveling to a foreign place, but above all, it will be the human experience along the way that will truly make your mountaineering adventure unforgettable.
Which mountain guides and leaders to hire?
We highly recommend you hire IFMGA/UIAGM/IVBV mountain guides or holders of national certifications approved by IFMGA. For the complete list of certifications accepted by IFMGA, click here. Alternatively, if you are looking to book a mountain leader, we recommend searching for UIMLA-certified professionals.
The IFMGA is the international mountain guides’ association. It represents all the national mountain guides associations which are qualified and apply IFMGA guidelines.
The UIMLA is the international association of mountain leaders. This qualification allows the holder lead groups in different mountains all over the world, where the skills of alpinism are not required. IMLs cannot provide tours on glaciers and permanent snow or where the planned use of a rope is necessary. However IMLs can work with groups on high altitude treks as well as lead groups on snowshoes.