New to Climbing and Hiking? A 101 on Hiring the Right Guide

Unless you’re a pro mountaineer, hiring a guide service is key to summiting success. Here are a few
Posted April 19, 2011
Vertical dreams: hire a guide to help you summit

MOUNTAINEERING GUIDES

Rainier Mountaineering Inc.
Mount Rainier, Mount Shuksan, Forbidden Peak
Based in Ashford, RMI is one of the oldest and most established guide companies leading climbs on Mount Rainier. Founded in 1969 by legendary mountaineer Lou Whittaker and attorney Jerry Lynch, RMI boasts some of the biggest names in the business among its guides. Basic local climb (beginner): Four-day summit climb (Mount Rainier) Length: Four days Price: $951 Ashford; 360.569.2227; rmiguides.com

Alpine Ascents International
Mount Rainier, Mount Baker
The most highly rated mountain guide service by National Geographic Adventure magazine in 2009, AAI offers climbs on the Seven Summits—the highest peaks on the seven continents—as well as a comprehensive six-day mountaineering program in the Cascades. Basic local climb (beginner): Muir climb (Mount Rainier) Length: Three days Price: $1,325
Seattle; 206.378.1927; alpineascents.com

International Mountain Guides

Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Shuksan
Each IMG climb is personally organized by one of its three founders (including George Dunn, who last August became the first person to climb Mount Rainier 500 times). Clients praise IMG’s low client-to-guide ratio (most summit climbs are two climbers for each guide). Basic local climb (beginner): Classic Muir climb (Mount Rainier) Length: Three and a half days Price: $1,250 Ashford; 360.569.2609; mountainguides.com

Mountain Madness

Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Baker,
Mount Olympus, Mount Shuksan and others
Mountain Madness’ strength lies in its pre-trip organization and preparation, and while other companies tend to focus on Mount Rainier, Mountain Madness provides an array of climbs throughout the North Cascades, as well as on Mount Olympus. Basic local climb (beginner): Mount Baker Length: Three days Price: $775 Seattle; 206.937.8389; mountainmadness.com

 

Before you go

Know where you’re going, what the weather conditions are like and what kind of permits you’ll need.

The Elements
For local road and pass conditions as well as general weather forecasts, consult wsdot.wa.gov.


The 4-1-1

Get parks and mountain info at www.fs.fed.us (U.S. Forest Service), nps.gov (National Park Service) and parks.wa.gov (Washington State Parks). These sites feature downloadable maps and general information about fees and snow closures. For reviews and descriptions submitted by outdoor enthusiasts, interactive trail maps and filtered searches for finding the perfect hike or climb, check out wta.org (Washington Trail Association) and trails.com.


The Red Tape

Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park each charge a $15 entrance fee, which covers seven days. Most recreational areas in national forests require a Northwest Forest Pass ($5 per vehicle per day; $30 annually). For information on which pass or permit is right for you, visit nps.gov/state/WA/index.htm and www.fs.fed.us/r6/passespermits.
Permits and passes can be bought online at discovernw.org, by calling 800.270.7504 or by visiting one of these locations:

Metsker Maps of Seattle

Downtown
1511 First Ave.
206.623.8747
metskers.com

REI

Outdoor Recreation Information Center
South Lake Union
222 Yale Ave. N
206.470.4060
rei.com

Outdoor Research Retail Store

SoDo
2203 First Ave. S
206.971.1496
outdoorresearch.com

Second Ascent

Ballard
5209 Ballard Ave.
206.545.8810
secondascent.com

The Mountaineers
Sand Point
7700 Sand Point Way NE
206.521.6000
mountaineers.org

Washington Trails Association

Downtown
705 Second Ave., Suite 300; 206.625.1367
wta.org

Wide World Books and Maps

Wallingford
4411-A Wallingford Ave. N
206.634.3453
wideworldtravelstore.com

Comments