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A Private Guide vs. A Group Trip – which one is best for me?

February 23, 2020 | Posted in: JHMG


When it comes time to climbing a big mountain, there are a number of things to consider.  One of them is whether you want to climb it with your own guide, or if you want to join a group trip.  Price is often an important consideration, but it’s not the only one.   There are some other things that perhaps we should look at.

  1.  What is the guide to client ratio on a group trip?  Most guiding companies have an established guide to client ratio.  For The Mountain Guides, the maximum ratio for a Grand Teton Climb is 3:1.  This varies depending on the objective and time of year but in general, we guide at a 3:1 ratio.  This means that if you are a solo climber, you will be matched with two other climbers.  Your summit attempt will be successful not just based on your performance but on the performance of the other climbers on your rope team.  If one person on the rope team has to turn around for any reason, then this affects the entire group. Is this something that you are comfortable with? If not, perhaps consider a  private.
  2. How much time do you have?  Having time and flexibility on the mountain is one of the ways in which we can improve our chances of success on the mountain.  But let’s be honest, life can be busy and sadly we do have commitments other than the pursuit of our climbing habit. It is true that a smaller climbing party often climbs more rapidly than a larger one.  There are fewer people, so there are fewer transitions and in general a more consistent pace.  If you find you have limited time, perhaps a private trip will allow you to reach your climbing/mountaineering goals and get back to your front-country-life in a more timely fashion.
  3. How much do you want to learn? – People climb mountains for many different reasons.  Some folks are in it for the singular experience, and some are exploring a life-long endeavor. Regardless of your reasons, or your experience, there is an education that goes along with climbing and there is always something new to learn.   I think most people would agree that the smaller the class size, the more personalized attention a student can receive.  This holds true in outdoor pursuits like climbing as well.  The personalized attention you get from your guide on a private trip is likely to be more focused.  This is not to say that you will not learn a ton from a group environment, but having a private guide is kind of like having a private teacher to teach you and to answer all the questions that come up.
  4. Do you like climbing with new people? – My favorite climbing partner is my wife. Hands down.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a people person and I love meeting new friends in the mountains, but when it comes to actually climbing, I have a few people that I feel most comfortable with.  If you are anything like me, you have options.  Get your friends, family or favorite climbing partners together and form your own rope team.  You will have your own guide, you pay the group rate, and you get to climb with your favorite people.  If your group is not available, and you are not feeling social, go private.  Yes, you will pay more, but you will also make your friends jealous!!!

Does a private climb cost more?  Yes.  Guide companies need to charge more for private climbs.  However, if you want to maximize your learning, are sensitive about time, and want to give yourself the best chance to summit, maybe a private climb is right for you.

To inquire about a group or private climb CLICK HERE


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