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Difference in guides?

Discussion area for peaks outside of the USA.
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Difference in guides?

Postby Swampy » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:34 pm

So I am planning a trip, likely to Ecuador in Nov/Dec, and am looking at guides. I'm relatively new to this so bear with me. What are the main differences between using a local guide and a Mountain Madness or RMI? I'm assuming reputation brings costs, but is my trip going to be any more enjoyable or successful with a high caliber guide company?

Thanks,
Matt

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Re: Difference in guides?

Postby Mountaineer18 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:40 pm

From what I have "heard" a lot of American guides will actually subcontract the guiding out to one of the local guides and take their cut out of it. I don't know how true it is but may be worth looking into local guides to save money and have someone from the area who may be more knowledgeable of the area and customs.

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Re: Difference in guides?

Postby mtnmike » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:56 pm

In my experience with Alpine Ascents (Orizaba, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Aconcagua), the guiding responsibilities aren't subcontracted to local guides, but rather they partner with local guiding organizations to provide clients with both familiar American/western guiding services and the expertise and targeted knowledge of local guides. Kind of gives you the best of both worlds. In all my international climbs, I have seen the two organizations work together to provide their clients comprehensive guiding services.

Reputation does indeed bring costs, and while many of the local guiding organizations are professional and ethical...some are not (as with any profession). Using a reputable American outfitter helps eliminate (or at least minimize) this possibility.

At least, that's how I've seen it. And I have spent time talking with AAI guides and their local partners on the perspective.
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Re: Difference in guides?

Postby cheeseburglar » Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:13 pm

I've only used a climbing guide once, and it was for climbing in Ecuador. I've heard many stories and from what I know and have heard, I think the difference is with a local guide you get local flavor. And have more responsibility.
With a local guide, you'll get more personality of the country you are in. The thing is, if you use local guides you will be more or less in charge, or should be. It's a fine line. You'll need to listen to them and take their advice. If you try to boss a local guide around, you might end up back at the bottom of the mountain. If you come across as a jerk, they won't care if you make the summit or not and won't go the extra mile (or 1,000 vertical) for you.
You'll need to assert yourself to a limited extent, demonstrate competency, and let them know what you expect. If you don't, you'll run the risk they'll decide you are at risk and make you turn around. With a gringo guide, you'd have a buffer who would also be making the decision.
From what I've heard, the biggest complaint with local guides is people who get turned back due to weather or health issues. If you have an american guide, they will make that decision and influence the local guide. If you can't interact well with the local guide and don't have an advocate, they may turn you around prematurely. It's a big hit to their reputation if someone gets hurt. But if a summit isn't made, it's forgotten pretty quickly and blaimed on the client.
From what I know of foriegn guided climbing, there are always some locals involved. I've heard a few stories where the American guide gets upity with the locals and the result is a bunch of arguments about silly logistic details that mean very little. I'd suggest, if you have a small group you are comfortable with, to skip the risk of being involved in an ego match between your gringo guide and the locals.
I can give you a reference for the guide we were fortunate enough to have in Ecuador, Jaime Vergas working for Sierra Nevada. Great guy and an incredibly strong climber. He was very comfortable with us and us with him. If it had been otherwise, the trip would have been no fun and he might have made us turn back. He trusted us, we trusted him, we had a lot of fun, and we made the summits!

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Re: Difference in guides?

Postby Athos791 » Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:43 pm

I can't speak for ecuador, but I used a local guide in Mexico for Orizaba. I agree with Cheeseburglar in the fact that you get local "flavor." The local guide offers insight and knowledge of their homeland that most US guides won't have. My guide on Orizaba had climbed it over 250 times, our assistant guide 150, and the 22 year old guide with us 30+. You just don't seem to see that kind of knowledge and experience on one individual mountain that often. Not saying US guides won't be experienced, but local guides spend most of their time climbing in their few specific areas that allows them to have a high level of knowledge of the mountains, and not to mention the surrounding towns and restaurants/hotels/everything.
Just my 2cents
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Re: Difference in guides?

Postby Shawnee Bob » Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:04 pm

Price for a guided trip up Orizaba?
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Re: Difference in guides?

Postby Swampy » Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:34 pm

Thanks for the opinions everyone; very good info. I will looking into Jaime at Sierra Nevada and go from there. It's my first international trip and I'm darn excited.

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Re: Difference in guides?

Postby Scott P » Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:48 pm

What are the main differences between using a local guide and a Mountain Madness or RMI?


Cost is the main difference. You will pay 4 or more times more by using a US company than a reliable local guide.

Taking a local guide is more flexible and has the choice of more of different mountains. If you take a local guide you can more or less make your own schedule. Just tell them I want to climb whatever mountains between whatever dates and they will likely work with your schedule rather than you working with theirs.

is my trip going to be any more enjoyable or successful with a high caliber guide company?


You will stay in the same huts, have the same transport and eat the same food rather you go with a local guide or a reliable local guide (research several sources). You’re chances of summitting probably won’t be any greater either way.
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Re: Difference in guides?

Postby Athos791 » Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:04 pm

Shawnee Bob wrote:Price for a guided trip up Orizaba?


700 USD, including EVERYTHING you can think of when in Mexico. My guide was Roberto Flores Rodriguez if you were curious. I highly recommend him! He is the owner of Orizaba Mountain Guides. If you want more info, PM me.. I don't want to threadjack haha.
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Re: Difference in guides?

Postby Shawnee Bob » Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:22 pm

Wow. Not bad. Definitely be looking at that!
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