When Does It Pay To Hire A Guide?

By Chris Simmons, 17 February 2014

  • DATE

    17 February 2014


    Chris Simmons


    Rock Climbing

IFMGA Mountain Guide and Outdoor Research athlete Chris Simmons hears all the time about the value of his services. He also hears about how it's cheaper to just have a friend teach you to climb or ski. He recently sat down with a pen and a napkin to find a way to explain the benefits of professional instruction.

If you want to have the most effective (time+effort) experience or instruction, consider hiring an IFMGA Mountain Guide or a PSIA 3 Instructor (for ski areas).  Everything else is just a compromise.

If someone chooses to save money in equipment and professional instruction in the spirit of "DIY," they should be prepared for developing at a slower rate, and learning more lessons by mistakes.  At some point on the graph, usually depending on what your final desired outcome is, trying to save that money in the beginning actually costs more in time spent correcting those mistakes.

Sometimes it pays to be cheap. But at some point, you pay by being cheap.

Chris Simmons

Seattle, WA

Chris Simmons has a hard time with alpine starts because it gets in the way of his morning six cups of coffee, but he manages. He blames his love for the mountains on his parents, who introduced him to skiing as a boy at the resorts surrounding Lake Tahoe.

Chris discovered alpine climbing and mountain guiding in his late twenties, and he became an IFMGA Mountain Guide in 2011. He admits to having a perverse relationship with cold: he’s spent 38 months over the course of eight seasons, including one winter, at various places in Antarctica, where he has several first ascents and ski descents.

Chris lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and their two dogs, where he works with Pro Guiding Service to offer alpine, rock climbing and backcountry ski trips.