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Guided trips 2020: Application dates & details

Winter has just arrived for most of the country and the holiday season is almost upon us, but already it’s time to start thinking about spring and summer 2020. If your plans involve a guided trip with us, this page will help you navigate the application process.

How to apply

To apply for a 2020 trip:

  1. Complete the Application Form, and
  2. Submit your Application Fee of $25, which will be credited to the cost of your trip.

Prepare yourself for the Application Form, which asks for more than just biographical information. View a PDF of the 2019 Application Form, on which this year’s form will be based.

When to apply

During the open application period, applications received will be treated mostly equally (as described below). After the period closes, applications will be treated on a first-come-first-served (FSFC) basis for spots that are still open.

For 2020 trips the open application period will start on Sunday, December 15. The closing date depends on the location:

  • December 16 through Monday, December 29 at 8:00 am MST for trips in Utah and West Virginia;
  • December 16 through Monday, January 12 at 8:00 am MST for trips in Alaska, California, and Rocky Mountains.

The staggered open application period is a departure from previous years, which have had just one period in January. This schedule will help distribute the processing workload, and it will give Utah and West Virginia clients a few extra weeks to arrange travel and complete the Planning Curriculum.

For what are you applying?

During the open application period, you’ll be asked to indicate your interest in each proposed trip: First Choice, Second Choice, or Not Interested. If your schedule allows it, you’re encouraged to indicate interest in multiple trips, improving the odds that I can find a spot for you.

Based on aggregate interest, I finalize the schedule after the open period closes. By reconfiguring the schedule based on actual demand (versus my speculation), I can accommodate the most number of applicants.

Application review process

During the open application period, each applicant is categorized:

  1. Alumni
  2. Waitlist from a previous year
  3. New applicant

Priority is generally given to alumni and previously waitlisted applicants, especially for the longer and riskier trips. But it’s not universal — in recent years, I’ve had good results by mixing in new applicants with alumni.

Towards the end of the open periods, I begin to take inventory of the applicant pool and to form loose groups. By applying early in the open application period, I’ll be able to account for you during this preliminary phase, which in the past has made the difference for a few people.

You’ve applied. Now what?

I will start offering spots on trips during the weeks of:

  • December 30, for Utah and West Virginia;
  • January 13, for Alaska, California, and Rocky Mountains.

While processing applications, I will keep you regularly informed of my progress and your status. Please be patient with me — it takes a long time to thoroughly read and evaluate each application, and I put a lot of thought into the makeup of each group.

Applicants for Alaska, California, and the Rocky Mountains will have to be especially patient, possibly waiting up to four weeks after they’ve applied to receive a decision. I considered having two separate open application periods to avoid this wait time, but overall the staggered closing dates is the best system.

Planning Curriculum

The planning curriculum will start on Monday, January 20 for the Utah and West Virginia trips.

It will probably start a few weeks later for the other locations, probably Monday, February 3. This may change depending on the efficiency with which we process applications in January.


Leave a comment below, or contact me directly.

Posted in on November 27, 2019


  1. Matt Long on December 1, 2019 at 7:48 am


    Above it looks like you intended to post a PDF link of the application but I think the link is not working as there is nothing to click on. Would like to get a read ahead to be better prepared when the applications open. Thanks.


    • Andrew Skurka on December 1, 2019 at 11:41 am

      It’s not ready yet. Will update link when it is.

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