Denali/Mckinley. 20,320 ft. 9 clients. 2 other guides. Summited June 5th.
I just got back from my second trip guiding in Alaska. When people ask about the trip I generally say
"its the most fun/rewarding thing I've ever done, and the most miserable thing I've ever done."
And its true. Here is why.
It's rewarding: Have you ever gotten up in the morning when it was still dark out? and then worked out or gone for a run? And then eaten a healthy breakfast? and then gotten a ton of work done? and then gone to class/work with a bunch of folks who just rolled out of bed? Well, it produces a sense of accomplishment, pride, confidence and invincibility.
Climbing Denali produces a feeling like that, but a thousand times stronger. And guiding other people, and helping them reach this goal... the feeling is incredible.
It's fun: I love climbing and I get paid to go on a trip I wouldn't otherwise have time for. Denali is also one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The views are mind boggling - afterall, Denali a greater vertical relief than Everest and most mountains in the world. Beyond that, guiding entails problem solving, socializing, leading, walking, cooking, public speaking and organizing - these are all things I dig.
It's Miserable: I lost about 20 lbs. I woke up early and crawled from my crowded tent into the sub zero temperatures. The air was thin. I cooked and waited on strangers. I tied myself to strangers and climbing novices, and then walked with them on exposed ridges. I ate mediocre food. I carried a 75 lb pack and pulled a sled of similar weight. And I thought of my friends having beers on the beach in California.
All that said, I still came back to guide after my first year on the mountain. And After my second trip... well... I hope to be back.