Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review, Professionally

I do this each year (2012, 2013). Each year my professional life evolves just a little bit. As does my personal life. In short, 2014 will be remembered for an intentional dearth of guiding work and a beautiful abundance of personal life changes. The two go hand in hand. The combination of a huge expedition smack in the middle of the summer (and the associated training and preparation for that expedition) and marriage to, and travel with, my lovely Meagan means that I did much less guiding than usual. I lowered my financial overhead even lower than usual, took on additional writing work and have been able to come out even further ahead, financially, than I'm accustomed to. Wins all around!
A Valdez Ski touring week should be on every skiers list. April 2014 wasn't "all time". But, even when it's bad in AK, it's still damn good!

Here's what my guiding life looked like, by the numbers:

  • I worked 33 guiding trips
  • Of those, 16 were single-day outings.
  • 7 were two day commitments. 
  • 3 were for 3 days
  • 4 trips went for four days
  • Chad and I did a 6-day trip in Sequoia
  • And Jon and I did an 18-day trip to Mount Hunter
  • Of all those trips, I slept in the backcountry for work just 25 nights. 
  • That adds up to 79 guiding days.
  • Of course, for every 3-4 guiding days, there is about one day of administrative work that includes packing, unpacking, food prep, etc. 
  • Of those 33 trips, nine of them were for alpine climbing.
  • 10 were ice climbing
  • 3 were rock climbing
  • 10 were for skiing
  • And one was a trekking, non-technical trip.
Center of the Sierra, wild, beautiful light. 

Nature of the people I work with and our goals together:
  • 15 of the 33 trips I did were with returning clients
  • on 18 of the 33 trips, the primary objective was education.
  • On 11 trips the primary objective was a peak or specific route.
  • The remaining 4 had other sorts of objectives, usually skiing where good snow is the goal.
  • Of the 11 trips on which the primary objective was a summit, summits, or specific route(s), on five did we accomplish exactly what we set out to do. That is a 45% success rate. This statistic deserves a little further explanation. I keep my records based on whether we accomplished our entire itinerary exactly as planned. If we set out to attempt three peaks, but only do 2 of them, the trip doesn't get marked as 100% successful. As I work more and more with returning guests, and we get more and more ambitious together, these longer trips get more and more common. Also, these returning guests are seeking more remote and obscure objectives. For instance, my biggest Sierra trip in 2014 was with long-time guest Chad B. We've ticked all the technical fourteeners together, skied big peaks, and done extensive rock climbing skills courses together. In 2014 we headed to the way obscure, cooking up a burly six-day itinerary to the center of the range. Our plan involved over 50 miles of walking, three technical routes (one of which was new in 2008, one of which has probably never been guided, and the last of which has been completed perhaps less than 20 times). When sending the North Arete of Hamilton Dome immediately followed by the West Ridge of Black Kaweah beat us down (all in a stormy cycle), we opted out of the Sabre Ridge. While I would call the trip we did a great one, because we did not tick all we set out to do, the trip is marked on my sheet as less than "100% successful". Maybe it's time for a new recording standard, in light of these burly, multi-peak itineraries…

1 comment:

  1. Wasn't aware you kept detailed stats like this. Of the 11 trips to 'summit' something, with a 45% success rate, did you track what percentage of the 45% was due to weather versus other factors? This was the case in our Starlight/Thunderbolt summit trip where the 2nd day (North Pal and Polemonium) were 'washed' out due to horizontal sleet/rain.