Role of the Assistant Guide
Overview of a Stone Adventures Rock Climbing Trip and the Responsibilities of the Assistant Guide
To best understand the role of an Assistant Guide at Stone Adventures, let’s start with an overview of what a rock climbing guided trip is from start to finish. The guided trip begins the at first contact either on the phone or via email with the office. At this stage, the guests are full of questions of what to expect, what to prepare, what they will climb and might spend days or weeks collecting information and planning before they book. Once they reserve, payment in full is collected and the guests receive a confirmation email that includes the date and time of the trip, a google maps link of where to meet, a video of their guide (always a video of a Head Guide assigned to the role of ‘Lead Guide’ of the trip), a description of the guides’ car, what to prepare, a link to the weather, and a link to our FAQ page. This email is BCC’d to all guides on the trip. The email is the guides’ notification that they have been assigned to another trip. All trips are also added to our Team Up Calendar which holds all of the information of all scheduled trips the trip including times, dates, meeting locations, the guides, information about the guests, client registration, etc. To prepare for the trip, the guides will open their trip on the Team Up calendar, read about their guests and plan the day. The Lead Guide will come up with a plan A, B and C and share this with the Assistant Guide 1-2 days prior to the trip once there is a reliable weather forecast to plan around.
The day of the trip, the Lead Guide will arrive to the meeting location to ‘meet and greet’ the guests while the Assistant Guide pre-rigs the crag by building the anchors and hanging top-ropes on the routes for the day. Outfitting the guests with rock climbing gear may be done alone by the Lead Guide at the car or shop, or as a group effort at the crag. This will be decided upon during the planning process with the Lead Guide. Once the guests are at the crag and ready to climb, the guides will demonstrate a belay, how to top rope and how to lower. Safety issues should be presented at this time: all participants need to wear helmets at the crag even if they are not climbing, kids cannot climb any higher than their height unless they are tied in, what to do if someone shouts ‘rock’ etc. Please let the guests know that they do not need to climb the entire route on the first attempt. Let the first 2-3 attempts be warm ups! This should feel like pure fun, no pressure to get to the top until they are fully comfortable trusting the gear, the guides and the process. If guests have not lowered before, or if it has been over a year since they have lowered, they should be encouraged to do a practice lower on their first attempt about 10-15 feet off the ground. Once the warm ups are complete, the guides continue managing safety of the group with belaying for the guests. Routes that best suit the ambitions and skill sets of the climbers should be set up to accommodate the group.
Once the trip nears the end of its planned time, the Lead Guide should announce last climb. After the last climb there will be a team effort by the guides to clean up. The anchors and ropes will need to be cleaned. Everyone will check the foot of the rock climbing routes to make sure the group leaves no trace. The group will then hike back out to the car and collect all the climbing gear back from the guests. Once back into service, at least one guide should let someone in the office, Aron or Annie know that you made it out safely. Additionally, the Lead Guide will then go back into the Team Up Calendar and type in what routes were climbed, and any other pertinent information about the trip in the “Post Trip Notes”. Finally, all of the rock climbing shoes, helmets and harnesses will need to be cleaned. The rock climbing shoes should be wiped down with a wet towel inside and out, dried and sprayed. The harnesses should be wiped with a wet towel so that all of the dirt is removed, dried and sprayed. The helmets should be checked to see if they are clean, and sprayed. All the gear should then be stowed away either in the bins or gear slots in the shop.
The Infrastructure for Growth and the Road Toward Graduating to Head Guide
Throughout the trip, the assistant guide is following the lead of the Lead Guide. The Assistant Guide has the long task of learning new crags in Joshua Tree ahead of them. By pre-rigging, this gives the Assistant opportunities to learn new places and set up bomber anchors at the pace they need to operate confidently and safely. By working with number of different Lead Guides, the assistant guide will see a variety of ways to lead a trip, and have time to let their own personalities grow into a management role in an organic way.
Once the Assistant Guide has observed enough trips, the Lead Guide may welcome them to run the demonstrations at the crag and play a stronger and stronger leading role as time goes on. This growing role coupled with scouting all the listed guide routes will be the way the assistantship process is measured. Once an Assistant Guide has set up and climbed all the listed guide routes on the Assistant Guide Excel Sheet, has guided 3 or more trips with kids ages 6 and under, AND feels ready to run a trip on their own they are ready to assess to become Head Guide.
Assessment for Head Guide
To start, the Assistant Guide must contact Annie or Aron and set up a date for assessment. During this assessment, they will guide a mock trip with either Annie or Aron present. If successful, the Assistant Guide will then become Provisional Guide. A Provisional Guide can run trips on their own. However, the trips assigned will only be trips the office interprets as “easy,” predictable and likely to succeed. No difficult or unusual trips will be assigned during the Provisional Guide phase. To lift off the Provisional Guide phase, we will first need to make a short self-introduction video that will be added to the Stone Adventures website and embedded in future confirmation emails. After a number of successful Provisional Guide trips are complete, the new guide will graduate to Head Guide. Once graduated to Head Guide, the Assistant Guide will begin to be assigned smaller private trips of their own, and the rate of pay will change to Head Guide pay (even for future group trips).
Rate of Pay for Assistant Guide
For 4 hour, 6 hour, and 8 hour trip, the assistant guide wage is $80, $115, $150 respectively. Tips are also split evenly between guides at the end of each trip. Guides are paid at the end of each month.
Most trips for Assistant Guides will be during our peak season dates. In general, the more dates an Assistant Guide is available, the more trips they will receive. Trips book somewhere between days to months in advance. The busiest days are always weekends and holiday periods between October through May. Each guide is assigned a color on our Team Up Calendar. Team Up can be used on a computer or on the phone with an App. Each guide is assigned a color and responsible for updating their availability on the calendar. Once scheduled, the guide will receive a confirmation email and can thereafter open the Team Up calendar for more details about the trip. Guides who 100% reliably complete every trip assigned to them will continue receiving more trips. Guides who do not satisfactorily complete trips assigned to them will not be booked for future trips.