I’m hiring: Backpacking guide position(s)

For the 2021 season I plan to hire up to three additional backpacking guides. If you would like to join our team, read on.

Position description

The work will be short-term and seasonal, and should be considered a supplement to steadier full-time work, an additional contract in a larger freelance portfolio, or a fun and rewarding retirement project.

In 2021 our existing guides will each lead trips in up to three locations and spend 8 to 44 days in the field.

I currently have three slots still open, listed below. In all cases, you would be a junior guide and would assist a lead guide who knows the program better and who probably is more experienced. We typically run concurrent sessions (i.e. two trips at a time, each with two guides), and you’d be part of a four-guide group.

  • San Juan Mountains, Colorado (12 days)
  • Yosemite National Park, California (5 days)
  • Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia (8 days)

For specific trip dates, refer to the 2021 schedule.

I will need to hire at least one new guide, but I may hire three depending on respective skill sets and geographic locations.


Hiring is an opportunity for me to both double-down on and to broaden the strengths of our team. We offer learning-intensive and adventure-rich courses and trips, and specialize in long-distance backpacking and off-trail travel. I am looking for candidates that match this profile, while perhaps also bringing new perspectives and life experiences.

Minimum qualifications

1. Extensive backpacking experience. Have you slept on the ground (or between trees) for hundreds of nights and in a variety of seasons and ecosystems? 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, and at elevations often up to 12,000 feet?

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

Preferred qualifications

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. 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?


In addition to a day rate, you be compensated for trip preparation and travel, and you will reimbursed for training and travel expenses.

Application instructions

I am no longer accepting applications for these positions.

To apply, complete this form. You will be asked to:

  1. Enter basic biographical information;
  2. Provide links to your personal or professional website(s) and/or social media channel(s);
  3. Indicate your experience level in specific environments;
  4. Upload a Letter of Interest as a PDF or document file (e.g. docx, txt); and
  5. Upload a professional resume (optional).

Note: To upload a file in Google Forms, you must be logged into your Google account, if you are not already.

In your letter of interest, address the hiring qualifications — all or most of them, depending on your background. You need not answer the specific questions — they’re more meant to guide the general direction of your letter. Please do not exceed 750 words.

Application deadline: on or before Friday, December 11. However, 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 November 30, 2020


  1. Katie Rapp on November 30, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Hi there,

    I attempted to open the form, but I can’t open it because it’s restricted to people within your organization/ needs permission.

    • Andrew Skurka on November 30, 2020 at 7:06 pm

      This should be fixed now.

  2. Rob Steffens on November 30, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    Hey Andrew, I sent you a direct email for the San Juan Mountains guiding position as the Google Form submission kept saying I “Needed Permission” for access. The email should come from [email protected]. I think I would make a great addition to the team and happy to hop on a call to discuss. Talk soon.

    • Andrew Skurka on November 30, 2020 at 7:05 pm

      This should be fixed now.

      • Brian on December 2, 2020 at 2:39 pm

        Still hiring?

        • Andrew Skurka on December 2, 2020 at 3:08 pm

          As indicated, the deadline is Friday, December 11. While we may start reviewing applications and scheduling interviews before then, we will review all applications that arrive through that date.

    • L M P Miramontes on December 2, 2020 at 1:14 pm

      Wonderful post. I have contacts and will share. Used to be an instructor with a wilderness school, and did research/evaluation with the program (including my doctoral dissertation). If you ever need such work let us know. 🙂

  3. Carmen Shippy on December 1, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    These positions sound so exciting I wish I could apply.

    I hope to in the future.

    Good luck to all!

  4. David on December 1, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    What is the day rate you pay junior and senior guides as compensation? And what is the compensation for prep work?


    • Andrew Skurka on December 1, 2020 at 4:16 pm

      I’ve emailed you privately.

      • Latanya Doucet on December 1, 2020 at 10:13 pm

        Omgosh. I would never be able to complete any of these voyages but how amazing it must be ……

      • Bruce on December 1, 2020 at 10:34 pm

        Sounds super exciting! Can you please also share the compensation information with me?

        • Andrew Skurka on December 2, 2020 at 8:54 am

          I can email you privately.

  5. Leslie Thrall on December 2, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    Trying to understand here, are you looking for someone to help lead multiple trips at one location in 2021 or this hire would be to lead one trip only in 2021?

    Leslie Thrall

    • Andrew Skurka on December 2, 2020 at 1:53 pm

      If I can hire one person to lead multiple trips, I’ll do that.

      If I need to hire multiple guides to lead multiple trips, I’ll do that.

      Applicant skill sets, geographic location, and availability will probably drive the decision. For example, if our first-choice guide is based in Pennsylvania and not available in July, I’d probably just send them to West Virginia in October — it wouldn’t make sense for them to fly to California for just five days of work, and they couldn’t help me with the Colorado trips. So then I’d still be looking for another guide or two.

      • Leslie Thrall on December 2, 2020 at 2:08 pm

        Got it, that makes sense. Thanks. I may email you one more question.

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