Interested in becoming a professional rock climbing guide?
Read on about how to get started with Stone Adventures!
For starters, a rock climbing guide must be certified with either the Professional Climbing Guide Institute or the American Mountain Guide Association, be a Wilderness First Responder and trained/familiar with Leave No Trace principles. Applicants without rock climbing guide certifications cannot be considered for employment. Qualified applicants are eligible to join our Assistantship Program. The amount of time it takes to complete the Assistantship depends on working knowledge of the climbing in Joshua Tree National Park as well as how hard an assistant guide works to graduate. We have seen guides tackle it in one year or as fast as 2-3 months.
The "Why" Behind our Assistantship
Joshua Tree National Park is an international destination for climbing. There are over 9,000 rock climbing routes and a vast span of differing weather patterns in the Park, giving climbers of all skill sets year-round access to climbing. However, Joshua Tree is growing in popularity faster than the infrastructure (roads, entrances, parking) can handle. There are climbing areas we can get shut out of due to parking issues alone. Additionally, it can be challenging to accomplish a 5-star outdoor experience when bumping elbows with other climbers. Knowledge of less traveled areas of the Park becomes key during our peak season dates. Finally, without a tree cover, the elements in the desert can be harsh. There is about a 20 degree temperature difference between walls in the sun or shade. To keep our guests comfortable, we chase the shade in the heat and climb in the sun when it's cold. Knowing the Park like a giant sun dial helps us avoid weather cancellations (from wind especially) and keep all our guests climbing in comfort year-round. The way around these challenges without compromising our guests' experience is to have intricate knowledge of JTNP. We pride ourselves on providing customized experiences to any climber or any skill set any time of year. To do this, our head guides need to be knowledgeable of what options are out there! This knowledge can take months or years to develop.
What an Assistant Guide Does
An assistant guide is able to guide under supervision of a head guide for groups of 5 guests or more. Often, the assistant guide will pre-rig a crag while the head guide meets and greets. Once the trip is running, the assistant guide helps care for all the trips needs: helping guests put on their rock climbing gear, belaying, setting up new routes, cleaning anchors, packing gear in and out, instructing the guests through their climbing experience as necessary (or desired), returning gear to the shop and cleaning it. During the phase of assistantship, the guide is given an Excel Sheet of a couple hundred guide routes to scout out. We hope to see that all of these routes have been set up and climbed by our assistants in addition to other routes they personally bring to the table. In addition, we want to see that our assistants have guided children ages 4 and under at least 3 times before graduating to head guide. To accomplish this, our assistants can wait for the process to happen organically with trips assigned to them or they can actively scout out all these routes and move along the process faster. The assistant guide assessments involve a day in the field mock guiding and a written assessment about our company culture.
The first phase of graduating the assistantship is to a provisional guide. The second is to a head guide. To ensure a smooth transition for the guide and top-quality service to our guests, we are selective about what kind of trips are assigned in the Provisional Guide phase. Provisional guides can guide trips solo (groups of 1-4 people) as long as the climbers' needs are a good fit for the guide. After enough trips as Provisional Guide go smoothly, we promote to Head Guide.
When Does a Guide Work?
An assistant guide can expect to work 1-12 days a month. This will depend on the season and the availability of the guide. The high season in Joshua Tree is October-May. Most guides can expect work on all Peak Season Dates. We ask our guides to be available for every weekend and holiday during this period. Stone Adventures operates year-round in Joshua Tree National Park, however, there is only a fraction of the work in the summer. Guides are encouraged to take personal climbing trips or time off during the slow periods (first week of December, January, June-September).
There is ample opportunity to become a career rock climbing guide in Joshua Tree National Park. However, opportunities to work are only on the days trips are running. The bulk of our rock climbing trips are on holiday weekends between October-May, including Thanksgiving week, Christmas-New Year period and spring break (last 2 weeks of March, first 2 weeks of April). If you are unavailable to work these dates, we need to be perfectly honest: you will not become a full-time guide in Joshua Tree. You can expect 75% or more of your annual salary to come from these dates. If working these dates is not an option for you, you may have better luck working in another area of the country or in another industry entirely.
If you are interested in becoming a rock climbing guide in Joshua Tree National Park, please submit a resume, cover letter, copies of your guide certifications, WFR card, and Joshua Tree climbing tick list to firstname.lastname@example.org In the cover letter, please include where you will live and what your longer term (2-5 years out) goals are. Thank you for taking interest in our Rock Climbing Assistantship Program at Stone Adventures. We hope to see you out here, tackling your dreams soon!
- Certified Rock Climbing Guide
- Completed Stone Adventures Assistantship Program
- Climbed 500+ routes in Joshua Tree National Park
- Available all peak season dates
- Lives locally
- Wilderness First Responder
- Teaching experience (preferred)
- Paid by the trip
- Annual bonus after 2 years (when available to work 90% or more of all peak season dates)
- Rent Crashpads, collect payment, collect crashpads at the end of day
- Support guests for upcoming trips by answering questions as needed
- Answer phones and emails for future inquiries
- Process reservations
- Process client registration forms
- File away trip itineraries and waivers
- Close up shop (lock doors, clean up, turn off power, etc.)
- Swing Shift Hours: 8:00-10:00 am, 5:00-7:00 pm, Friday- Monday (longer hours during peak season dates)
- Base Pay: $17.00/hour