So You Wanna Be a Mountain Guide

Tryout tips from a Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. Veteran
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Tryout tips from a Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. Veteran

Introduction “We look for natural and confident communicators to work with our customers,” says guide supervisor Paul Maier. “This ability is usually revealed—or not—when candidates are asked to introduce and describe themselves to the group, the same group they’re competing against for a job.”

Run “A check of base fitness–and willingness to suffer. Don’t finish last; Ashford is only at 2,778 feet.”

Glacier travel scenario “This is a test of fundamental skills. Is your knowledge theoretical or practical? Who takes the lead? We also look at who follows and whether that person speaks up if something isn’t done right.”

Multipitch climbing scenario “If you get tangled up when switching leads or setting up your rap line, you might need to spend a bit more time on the rock and ice.”

Public speaking “We analyze your people skills—and how well you listen to others. RMI’s greatest asset is our guide staff—and our guide staff’s greatest asset is its ability to communicate effectively with customers. We listen to how applicants present themselves; how is their physical presence, are they articulate, sociable, and can they get their message across? All of the technical ability in the world is worth little to guides if they lack the ability to connect with their customers. We can teach hard skills, but soft skills are much slower to develop.”

Written test “A chance to shine on a range of topics: avalanche awareness, navigation, guiding scenarios. You may have finished mid-pack on the run, but you can still impress with your knowledge of snow crystal metamorphism.”

Private interview “We ask focused questions to determine if the applicant looks like a good fit. There is not one ‘type’ of person we are looking for, but the RMI guides who have stood the test of time, like Ed Viesturs, Dave Hahn, and Brent Okita, do have one thing in common: They are the nicest badasses you will ever meet.”