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Matthew0718


Sep 12, 2012, 2:51 PM
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College help!?
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So next year I am going to college and was wondering. Is there any schools outthere that are like rockclimbing mountaineering schools? Not like a campus in the rocky mountains but hardcore mountaineering schools?


sungam


Sep 13, 2012, 3:41 AM
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Not really. There are some "schools" that teach guiding/coaching skills and such, and training/coaching camp/courses that will help you improve, but nothing you will walk away from with a degree from.

However there are some great training facilities near a lot of universities. So you can go to school and also separately get some good training in.


jowybyo


Sep 13, 2012, 5:26 AM
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http://www.adventuresportsi.org/

Several guides at Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides (including Tom Cecil) helped develop the program with Garrett College.

Not sure if this is exactly what you were looking for or not.

-Joe B.


J.Haze


Sep 13, 2012, 6:00 AM
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Location specific or anywhere?

My buddy goes to Hocking College in Ohio for an "Adventure Travel" degree which among other things teachs to guide. Along with that you get some other more usefull classes for business (specific to the outdoors industry I think). Don't know what all else the program entails but its worth looking into and probably more flexable job wise than a climbing specific program.


olderic


Sep 13, 2012, 6:49 AM
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NOLS. You are either going to College OR you are getting specific climbing/mountaineering/outdoors knowledge. Choose. Sure you can pick up a lot of that stuff at many colleges that have strong outdoor programs - but if that is what you are going to college to focus on and not the academics - then it's a waste or time and money.


colatownkid


Sep 13, 2012, 7:22 AM
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Matthew0718 wrote:
So next year I am going to college and was wondering. Is there any schools outthere that are like rockclimbing mountaineering schools? Not like a campus in the rocky mountains but hardcore mountaineering schools?

Depending on your goal, there are a few options. Assuming you ultimately want a job guiding or instructing things like climbing and mountaineering, things you might consider include:

-A degree in Outdoor Education, Outdoor Leadership, Adventure Education, or related field. There are quite a few colleges that offer these sorts of degrees. A couple reputable ones that come to mind are Prescott College in Arizona, Green Mountain College in Vermont, Western State College in Colorado, and the University of Utah. However, these programs might not meet your definition of "hardcore."

-A related degree plus plenty of experience. For example, if you want to work in wilderness therapy, a degree in psychology or social work can be beneficial, plus work experience. You can often find some of this work experience at a college/university outdoor recreation program. These programs are usually run through student affairs. They are not degree programs, but you can often work for them/lead trips for them. Similarly, a business degree plus work experience could help you land an internship.

-Outdoor leadership semester or instructor training courses. For example, NOLS offers their "Instructor Course" as well as a semester-long course to students hoping to become NOLS instructors. Similarly, Outward Bound offers an Outdoor Leadership Course and a semester course for individuals hoping to become instructors or hoping to work in the outdoor industry.

-Certifications. In order to work as a guide/instructor, you'll need certifications. Minimally, most any job will require that you have a Wilderness First Responder certification. Additionally, if you want to guide climbing/mountaineering, I suggest you seriously consider the American Mountain Guides Association and the IFMGA certification. (The AMGA now offers college credit for courses and exams through the University of Utah, if that helps.) Completing the rock guide, alpine guide, and ski mountaineering tracks in the AMGA certifies you as an IFMGA guide, meaning you are certified internationally to guide anywhere in the world. This process can take years and thousands of dollars. It could potentially be seen as an alternative to a traditional college degree.

Keep in mind that most of these programs have scholarship opportunities. Also, make sure your technical skills are rock solid, or you will have a long slog through less exciting work to get to wear you want to be. (Even with solid technical and people-skills, you might have a long slog.) For example, if you don't already know how to trad climb, it's hard to get an internship with a guide service without this skill.

One path could look like working at a summer camp during summers and for a college outdoor rec program during the academic year. While enrolled in your Outdoor Leadership degree, you also take a NOLS or Outward Bound semester. At some point in that whole process, you get your WFR certification and take your AMGA Single Pitch Instructor course and exam. Then, at the end of school, you land an internship with a guide service and take 12 people at a time top roping at the local crag. Eventually, you get to start guiding multipitch. Then at some point you might pick up ice and snow climbing skills. You'll make your big break one year when you get invited on an expedition to Alaska or South America where you will spend most of your time carrying loads between camps, but not doing much of the "guiding."

Then, one day, like magic, everything coalesces and you travel the world, landing in a new place every season, guiding clients up remote and beautiful peaks in exotic places. It can be really rewarding, but it's not necessarily the most stable lifestyle. For example, you might spend all summer/fall guiding in Colorado, then all winter/spring guiding in Patagonia (which would be summer/fall there). Or maybe you guide Denali in the summer, fall cragging outside of Salt Lake in the fall, and work ski patrol at a resort all winter and spring. It's possible to make it work, but it's rare that you can spend all year in the same location and have work the whole time. Also, you may endure a good bit of fiscal penury before you get to "live the dream."

Just my two cents.


Matthew0718


Sep 13, 2012, 9:41 AM
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Wow, thanks for the comprehensive response. Well the issue there is I have only been climbing for a year with little outdoor experience due to location. Middle of missouri. It might be a good idea to go to college at a normal college and do some the Nols stuff and AGMA stuff in summers and after college. Hm...I don't know its very complicated


colatownkid


Sep 13, 2012, 9:50 AM
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Matthew0718 wrote:
Wow, thanks for the comprehensive response. Well the issue there is I have only been climbing for a year with little outdoor experience due to location. Middle of missouri. It might be a good idea to go to college at a normal college and do some the Nols stuff and AGMA stuff in summers and after college. Hm...I don't know its very complicated

Certainly not trying to squelch your enthusiasm. I think it's great to go after your dreams. I'd look at the colleges I suggested and also check out degrees in Outdoor Rec., Outdoor Ed., Adventure Ed., Outdoor Leadership, and similar degrees.

I'd also be looking for a location with access to climbing so that you can get out on your own as well. That's something I've found that many college students underestimate--the need to develop skills on their own outside of class. While you may take "Intro to Rock Climbing" as part of an outdoor ed degree, you'll most assuredly need to do work on your own outside of class to get your skills up to snuff for professional employment after graduation. Luckily, this "work" comes in the form of going climbing, so I personally never found it that hard to get motivated to do it. Wink


tower_climber


Sep 30, 2012, 8:33 PM
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I attend school at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. I am currently about to finish up a BS in Outdoor Education and I also work with the university's Outdoor Programs as a rock climbing guide.

ASU has a terrific recreation degree program, with skills-based credit courses in climbing and paddling. In addition to our degree offerings, we are home to one of the top Outdoor Programs in the country. OP at App is student run and gives students the opportunity to work as rock climbing guides for trips and clinics.

All this on top of the university sitting within an hour of plentiful world-class trad and multipitch climbing.

Just sayin... Wink


Matthew0718


Oct 1, 2012, 11:09 AM
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I was looking to do Outdoor Education at Black Hills State University because it has outdoor education and I can afford it. Everyone says I wont be able to find a job with an outdoor education degree. What is your take on that?


wonderwoman


Oct 1, 2012, 11:41 AM
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Maybe you can minor in kinesiology. That may make you eligible to be a gym / health teacher. I am married to one and he has a pretty sweet gig.


USnavy


Oct 1, 2012, 12:03 PM
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Matthew0718 wrote:
So next year I am going to college and was wondering. Is there any schools outthere that are like rockclimbing mountaineering schools? Not like a campus in the rocky mountains but hardcore mountaineering schools?
Being a climbing guide sounds like all fun and games (and it mostly is), but you need to consider some very important questions. First, how easy is it to get a full time job as a guide (not easy)? Second, how much do you make as a guide (not much)? Thirdly, if you go to a school and get some BA degree in outdoor education, or whatever, is it really going to be worth anything? The answer is no. Now, I am sure someone can come on here and taunt about how he has a degree in outdoor education or whatever and he got a good job. But let's face it, the economy is shit and there are millions of people with degrees in legitimately good fields such as IT and healthcare, and they cant even get a job with their degree. So my suggestion would be to consider a degree that is actually worthwhile. I cant tell you how many people I know that have degrees in fields such as political strategy (whatever that means), mathematics, and psychology and they cannot get a job outside of Wal-Mart.

Now, if you REALLY want to be a guide, then sure, go for it. But if you are considering education in that field simply because it sounds fun, reconsider. Get a degree that will get you a job.


(This post was edited by USnavy on Oct 1, 2012, 12:05 PM)


tower_climber


Oct 1, 2012, 6:04 PM
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"Everyone" will generally say that about any degree that they decide has no value.

The reality of the outdoor industry:

Outdoor recreation is a $4.1 billion a year industry in the US, and the field has shown consistent growth even during this recession. People are getting outside now more than ever because they realize that outdoor recreation is a low-cost alternative to traditional recreation. (This figure does not factor in traditional recreation or resort income)

Ecotourism is a booming industry, showing a 150% growth in revenue over the last five years.

Retail that can be directly related to outdoor recreation provides over 40 billion dollars in gross sales per year.


Unfortunately, USNavy has a point. The job market sucks big time right now. Finding full-time employment in any field is difficult right now. You can fight the trend by doing several things.

A) Attend a school that is recognized as a leader in Recreation Management. Quality programs employ faculty that are well-connected in the industry, which is vital for networking. Schools with solid reputations are also valued by employers.

B) Make the most of your time at school. Seek out a minor or second major that will complement your Rec degree and make you more marketable. My minor is Risk Management and Insurance, and I've received job offers because of the unique combination that Rec and RMI provides.

C) Supplement your knowledge. Seek out certifications. Get out in the environment and practice the skills you pick up (a quality program should be situated near resources that you can use, ie climbing or paddling sites).

D) Pay attention to every part of your degree. You'd be hard-pressed to find a serious Rec degree that didn't incorporate a lot of information. As part of my degree I've learned management, economics, administration, psychology and even a fair bit of law. These skills will also make you more marketable to prospective employers. Don't just focus on the hard skills.

E) Get extra-curricular experience. Another mark of a quality program is an internship requirement. My degree mandates that I spend one full summer (400 contact hours total) working in a recreation-related internship. My internship has provided me with a full-time job starting when I graduate.


I'm sure there will be plenty of noise about how little value a Rec degree has in the world, and how you should focus on a degree with "potential". At some point you have to ignore the noise and do what you want.


philipzahnd


Oct 4, 2012, 8:23 AM
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This might be the best advice you get today.

1. Read all the Falcon Guides/quality instructional (and illustrated) climbing books you can get your hands on.
2. Fork out $500 and 5 days to take the course/exam for the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor certification. They are all year long in different locations. http://amga.com/programs/SPI.php
3. Try not to fail the exam.
4. Get a job as a climbing guide and see how far the rabbit hole takes you.


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