I’m hiring: Backpacking guide(s) for 2020 season

For the 2020 guiding season I plan to hire at least one additional backpacking guide, and possibly two or three.

Interested in joining our team? Read on.

Position description

The work will be short-term and seasonal. It 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.

With the current size of the program, each season most of the guides are assigned one trip block in one location that is between 6 and 15 days. Some of the more experienced, capable, and available guides can be assigned to two or three blocks.

I am not yet certain for which 2020 trip locations and dates I am hiring. This decision will be influenced by the availability and geographic location of the individual guides, and the final trip locations. Currently, I believe my needs are:

  • Southern Utah in April (possibly)
  • West Virginia in May (likely)
  • Brooks Range in June (possibly)
  • Yosemite in July and/or September (likely)
  • Rocky Mountains in August and/or September (likely)

Necessary qualifications

When I hire new guides, I see it as an opportunity to solidify the strengths and to offset the shortcomings of our existing guide roster. The organization specializes in learning-intensive and adventure-rich courses and trips, and our guides all have backgrounds in long-distance trails and high routes. I am looking for candidates that match this profile, while perhaps also bringing new perspectives and life experiences.

In reviewing applications, I will look for evidence that you have:

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

3. 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?

4. Community credibility. Have you been recognized by media outlets for your accomplishments? Have you written a book or developed route guides? Does your website and/or social media profiles have notable followings? Do you work with outdoor brands as an athlete or ambassador? Have trail associations, hiking clubs, retail stores, or community organizations asked you to speak for their group?

5. 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)?

6. 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?


Guides work as independent contractors, and are compensated for their preparation, travel, days in the field, certifications, and travel expenses.

Application instructions

Update (November 18): These positions have been filled. Thanks for your interest.

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

  1. Enter basic biographical information and your location preferences;
  2. Upload a letter of interest as a PDF or document file (e.g. docx, txt).

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 at least most of them, depending on your background. Keep it to less than 750 words, which should be sufficient to share your most noteworthy qualifications and to earn an interview.

Application deadline: on or before Sunday, November 17. However, I will review applications periodically and may schedule some interviews before this deadline.


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 October 30, 2019

Leave a Comment