The Value of Guided Skiing

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While most ToursByLocals guides are experts on the urban pleasures of history, culture, gastronomy and such, some of our guides enjoy sharing wilder pastimes with travelers. Hiking, rafting, mountain biking, and – in today’s blog – skiing! Our Colorado guide Peter is joining us today to explain why a day on the slopes just doesn’t get any better than when it’s spent with a local guide who truly knows the mountain.

When I tell people that I am a guide for skiing and hiking I, basically, receive two different responses. The first response goes something like “Cool, I want your job, ….”. The second response goes something like “Why does someone need a guide for skiing, that sounds silly..?”. I definitely like the second question because it is an opportunity to make my case for hiring a guide when skiing anywhere in the world. I know it is popular and common to hire a guide for heli-skiing or for skiing off-piste in Europe, but I want to make the case for hiring a guide or going with a guided group when on a domestic (US) ski trip.

In March of 2016 I met some friends in Summit County CO to ski at Copper and Breckenridge. I have not skied at these places in years but used to consider them my home mountains when in my 20s (I am now in my 50s). I generally am a very good route finder and have good orientation skills. Hell, I am a geologist by profession and a guide in these types of terrain with guests! On this trip, however, I found that I was having lots of trouble finding the best terrain and best snow quality for my interests. I just could not remember the mountains well enough to maximize my fun. In addition to the snowstorm in which we were skiing (which I love to ski in and which can make route finding even more difficult), there were some new high “Peaks” at Breckenridge that I had never skied. Combine that with thin cover (although we just had 36” of snow in 3 days) and flat light and I found myself tentative on some of the slopes. My buddy, with whom I was skiing, considered Breck his home mountain. However, he is my stockbroker, not a guide. At numerous times we were “lost” and not in the bowl he thought we were in. Once he lacked the information to tell me about the thin cover on a line I was skiing and I had a nice “chat” with some shallowly buried rocks at about 30 mph. Also, the lines at the lifts! “Why are we at this lift?” I kept saying to myself. OK, I should have known; weekend in March, Spring break crowds, and he is a broker, not a guide.

Lesson learned. I, as a guide, do have value to my clients (that was the horn toot).

I can and do tell my guests the best line to ski on a hill. I describe the fall line, I mention the band of rocks to avoid, I avoid the lift lines. I also look out for their safety as well as many other small “helps”. Maybe the adage should be that you only notice your guide’s abilities when he or she isn’t there with you! When delivering a great ski day to his/her guests, a guide feels just like another skier with whom you are sharing a great ski day.

If you're headed to Colorado in winter OR summer (or fall or spring!) Peter can introduce you to Colorado and Utah's glorious mountains and canyon lands - either on skis, in hiking boots, or as part of a scenic driving tour.
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