I’m hiring: Backpacking Guides and Operations Assistant

My guiding program continues to grow, and I must make several new hires this season to keep up. I am now accepting applications for three roles:

  • Operations Assistant (one)
  • Lead Backpacking Guide (at least two)
  • Junior Backpacking Guide (one to three)

Applicants can apply for just the Operations Assistant position, just the Backpacking Guide positions, or both.

Job description: Operations Assistant

  • Can start immediately; must start by late-February
  • Must be local to south Boulder, Colorado (within a 30- to 45-minute drive)
  • Must be available in-person for two days per week during the first two weeks of June

Work load

The work is part-time and seasonal. February through July, it will average about 8 hours per week, with more hours before blocks of trips and fewer hours while trips are in the field. The work will conclude in mid-October (when the guiding season ends) and resume again in February 2023.

The schedule is very flexible, except for a few in-person days immediately before and immediately after blocks of trips. In setting up those days, I try to be accommodating of other commitments.


Primarily responsibilities include:

  • Preparing client/guide breakfast and dinner rations,
  • Developing alternative meal plans for clients with food restrictions,
  • Assembling first aid kits and group supplies, and,
  • Gathering client loaner gear, and putting it away when it returns.

Important attributes are:

  • Attention to detail
  • Reliable
  • Communicative
  • Diligent

Management and compensation

The Operations Assistant will be managed primarily by Matt Huddleston, who has been the Operations Manager since 2020 and who has additional responsibilities this season as a Plan Like A Pro instructor and Junior Guide. The Operations Assistant will also work directly with me.

This worker will be engaged as an independent contractor. Pay range is $20-$25 per hour.

Job description: Backpacking Guides

I must add Lead Guides (at least two) and Junior Guides (one to three) to our existing all-star guide team. These guides will be assigned to trips in:

  • Escalante, Utah: Thursday, April 21 through Sunday, May 8; and/or,
  • High Sierra, California: Saturday, July 16 through Sunday, July 31

My preference is that the new guides work both locations, but I will consider applicants who are only available for or interested in one.

These positions are seasonal, and should be considered a supplement to steadier full-time work, a fun and rewarding retirement project, or an additional contract in a larger freelance portfolio.

This season I will likely need help only in Utah and California, although I would consider assigning these new hires to Washington and/or West Virginia as well if it was geographically convenient. In future seasons there will be an opportunity for more work — in 2022, the busiest guides are leading trips for about 45 days in three different locations.

Minimum qualifications for Lead and Junior Guides

To learn about my guide program, go here. We offer learning-intensive and adventure-rich courses and trips, and specialize in long-distance backpacking, off-trail travel, and modern gear and technique. I am looking for candidates that match and can support this mission, while perhaps also bringing new perspectives and life experiences.

1. Extensive backpacking experience. Have you slept on the ground (or between trees) for hundreds of nights and in a variety of seasons and environments? Do you have a practical understanding of backpacking gear, and have you developed a robust backcountry skill set?

2. Good physical fitness. On average per day, at a minimum can you hike 15 miles (at sea level) or climb 3,250 vertical feet (at altitude), and occasionally hike 20 miles or climb 4,250 feet? Are you comfortable hiking off-trail, on uneven and loose surfaces, through talus and scree, on airy slickrock, and at elevations up to 13,000 feet?

3. Interpersonal skills. Do you enjoy working with people? Can you effectively communicate your thoughts? Are you comfortable managing groups and group dynamics? Are you energetic and cheery?

Preferred qualifications for Lead and Junior Guides

4. Teaching experience. Have you guided, taught, instructed, or mentored others, including students, adults, colleagues, teammates, and classmates? Do you have any professional credentials (e.g. degrees, wilderness medicine training, workshop or course certificates)?

5. Relate-ability. Nearly all of our clients are adults; most are working professionals or recently retired; and many have children and spouses. What experiences do you have in relating to this audience?

6. Interpretive knowledge. Are you a professionally trained or self-trained geologist, historian, botanist, wildlife biologist, ornithologist, or ethnologist (with a focus on Native Americans)?

7. Community credibility. Do you have a significant following on your website or social media channels? Have you written a book, developed a route guide, or submitted content to a popular backpacking blog? Are you an ambassador for an outdoor brand? Do you give public talks or clinics?

Required qualifications for Lead Guides

8. Guiding experience. Applicants for the Lead Guide positions must have previous experience leading overnight backpacking trips with adult clients for a commercial organization.


Guides are paid a daily rate, compensated for trip preparation and travel, reimbursed for training and travel expenses, and often tipped by clients.

In 2021 we hired five new guides:

To apply

All open positions for the 2022 season have been filled. I am not accepting more applications at this time.

Applicants for the Operations Assistant position must upload a resume or a Letter of Interest (or both). The Letter of Interest should not exceed 750 words.

Applicants for the Backpacking Guide positions must upload a Letter of Interest that addresses the hiring qualifications — all or most of them, depending on your background. You need not answer the specific questions, as they’re more meant to guide the general direction of your letter. Please do not exceed 750 words.

Note: To upload files, you must be logged into your Google account, if you are not already.

Application deadlines

Apply by 8 AM MST on Monday, February 28 for the:

  • Operations Assistant, and
  • Junior Guides positions.

I will accept applications for Lead Guides through 8AM MST on Monday, February 28, or until the positions are filled.

I will review applications periodically and may schedule some interviews before this deadline.

Andrew Skurka Adventures LLC is an equal opportunity employer.


If you have general questions about this position, leave a comment below. I will answer it there, to avoid multiple private answers to the same questions.

If you have a question that pertains specifically to your application, please contact me directly.

Posted in on February 12, 2022


  1. Iman Chatila on February 14, 2022 at 9:39 am

    Hi Andrew,

    Is it possible to apply to a guide position if I’m only available for the Escalante dates?

    • Andrew Skurka on February 14, 2022 at 9:56 am

      I’d prefer to hire guides who can work both locations, but I’ll consider guides who can only work both.

      I’ve clarified some of the language to make this clearer.

  2. Tommy Campbell on February 17, 2022 at 3:34 pm

    Hi Andrew, I’m very interested in the lead guide position, however I don’t have any formal experience working with a licensed guiding outfit. I’ve spent many years hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and exploring the back country of North America. And I’ve spent a lot of time in that environment with newcomers. Would you be willing to make an exception to that requirement? If not, I completely understand. If so, I’d love to have a quick conversation with you.
    I’m sure you’re a busy man, feel free to contact me via email if you’d like.
    Thanks for your time!

    • Andrew Skurka on February 17, 2022 at 4:10 pm

      Lead guides must have prior guiding experience for adult clients with a commercial organization. If you’re lacking that experience, you can apply for the Junior Guide position.

  3. Grant Beavers on February 28, 2022 at 10:02 am

    Hi Andrew.

    I am 2 hours tardy with submitting my application for a Junior Guide. Wondering if I can still submit. I was not aware of the 8am MST deadline, as I was reviewing my letter all morning. I understand if exceptions cannot be made. Thank you for your time.

    • Andrew Skurka on February 28, 2022 at 10:55 am

      I run a tight ship, but with a heart. Form has been turned back on for you.

      • Grant Beavers on February 28, 2022 at 11:04 am

        I appreciate both the tight ship and the heart.

        Thank you.

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