Application dates, process, and expectations

If your 2022 plans involve a guided trip with us, this page will help you navigate the application process and to set your expectations.

How to apply

  1. Pay your Application Fee, which will be credited to the cost of your trip; and,
  2. Complete the Application Form.

When to apply

We will accept applications for all 2022 trips starting on:

  • Monday, December 13, 2021.

For the first two to three weeks, it’s an open application period, and applications received will be considered mostly equally, as described below under “Prioritization.”

There is no advantage in registering immediately on December 13. However, so that we can meet our deadlines I ask that you not wait until the last-minute.

The open application period will end at 11:59 PM MST (-7:00 UTC) on:

  • Utah (April): Monday, December 27, 2021;
  • Colorado (May): Monday, December 27, 2021;
  • Alaska (June): Monday, December 27, 2021;
  • California (July): Monday, January 3, 2022;
  • Washington (September): Monday, January 3, 2022; and,
  • West Virginia (October): Monday, January 3, 2022.

After the open application period ends, applications will be considered on a first-come first-served basis for remaining spots. If you missed the deadline, don’t despair — submit your application ASAP and I can almost assure you that we’ll find a spot eventually.

For what are you applying?

During the open application period, you will rate your interest in each trip. Your options:

  • First Choice
  • Second Choice
  • Not interested

If your schedule allows it, I encourage you to indicate interest in multiple sessions and even locations. By being more flexible, we can find you a spot more easily.


We anticipate high demand for our trips again in 2022, and we have added some extra capacity to our schedule to accommodate increased interest.

Even so, demand for some trips will probably exceed supply. In those cases, I will take into account an applicant’s history with us. Specifically, I will give greater priority to (in order):

  1. Clients whose 2020 or 2021 trip was cancelled;
  2. Alumni from previous years;
  3. Students who took our Plan Like A Pro course; and, finally,
  4. New applicants.

That said, I won’t be following any hard rules — each group needs to look right to me, so I’ll be accounting for other factors, too, like experience, fitness, personality (if known), and biographical details. Also, I don’t want this to feel like an alumni-only “club,” so I try to balance groups with alumni and new applicants.

If you are not in a prioritized group, don’t give up on us yet. We work really hard to find every applicant a spot, and nearly always do if they are patient and/or flexible.

You’ve applied. Now what?

I will offer all or most spots:

  • For Utah, Colorado, and Alaska, between Tuesday, December 28 and Monday, January 3; and,
  • For California, Washington, and West Virginia, between Tuesday, January 4 and Monday, January 10.

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.

My expectations

Each year our trips sell out completely, and I expect the same in 2022. The real question is: What is the gap between our supply of spots and the demand for them. Here, I’ll try to speculate.

Utah. This has become our second largest location, behind only California. The land agencies do not cap our operations through a quota or permit system, and we have ample room to spread out, so our limitations relate more to the guide team and administrative capacity. We’ll be able to match demand if it’s similar to 2021, plus a little bit more. We should be able to find spots for most.

Colorado. We can run up to four intro-level trips in mid-May, which should cover demand.

Alaska. Many want to backpack in the Brooks Range, but very few feel comfortable planning and undertaking their own trip. So competition is stiff for the limited spots available. If you’re a new applicant, or if you’re an alumnus with only baseline experience, I’d encourage you to have a backup plan.

California. This is our most popular location, and many trips will sell out immediately. In February or March, we may be able to open more trips if we are successful in securing more commercial and wilderness permits. Until then, we will only fill trips that are certain to run.

Washington. It usually takes a year to gain momentum in a new location. But that may not the case here: it’s a fantastic setting; it will give our alumni a reason to return; and the region has an outdoorsy culture. So I’d expect that it will sell out eventually, if not immediately.

West Virginia. As our lone East Coast location, this spot gets a lot of interest because of the geographical convenience and because many applicants want Appalachian-specific knowledge. It will sell out eventually, if not immediately.