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Unofficial Guiding in National Parks? Your Thoughts?
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By Danger-Russ Gordon
From Tempe, AZ
Mar 4, 2013
Russ Just off the block
I know several Parks across the country do not allow any professional guiding within the park boundaries (Zion for example), and the Tetons only let J.H. and Exum guides do work in the park. I am just wondering what peoples thoughts are on the subject of guiding people in parks like these, without the park knowing? Is it generally looked at as OK, as long as you don't set up a company, or is it highly discouraged? Is there any potential legal repercussions? I'm just curious.

Thanks

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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Mar 4, 2013
One of the possible consequences, is having permits revoked where you are licensed to guide (if you already have a legit guiding service).

You risk being turned in by authorized guide services and if you have an accident on a pirate guided trip, the Park Service will almost certainly find out.

I think the NPS turns a blind eye to guiding in Yosemite NP without permits, but I don't know about the other parks.

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By Brian in SLC
Mar 4, 2013
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch
Danger-Russ Gordon wrote:
I know several Parks across the country do not allow any professional guiding within the park boundaries (Zion for example), and the Tetons only let J.H. and Exum guides do work in the park. I am just wondering what peoples thoughts are on the subject of guiding people in parks like these, without the park knowing? Is it generally looked at as OK, as long as you don't set up a company, or is it highly discouraged? Is there any potential legal repercussions? I'm just curious. Thanks


You can google search "NPS illegal guiding" and find out who's been caught recently.

If folks are guiding where it either isn't permitted, or, where the permits are taken by existing guide services, and, they're guiding on popular routes, it does raise a few eyebrows to be sure. And, yeah, when there's a trainwreck then it becomes more of a dealio.

As a recreational user who competes for the same space at times, I've asked guides who they work for. Not that I'd turn in an illegal guide, but, I might let them know they're at risk.

I'm sure its done on the DL all the time. Saavy folks pull it off. Usually their clients are pretty saavy too.

I guess I've discouraged it, and, would continue to do so.

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By John Klooster
From Arvada, CO
Mar 4, 2013
Backflip, Lumpy Ridge
While we were in Tuolomne last fall, 4 rangers showed up and hauled a guide away for guiding without permits. They did not look to happy with what was going on, pretty sure you can lose permits and/or certs.

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By rock_fencer
From Columbia, SC
Mar 4, 2013
Myself placing a a blue/yellow offset MC to protec...
if its groups then that can be a problem...individuals then usually fine

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By Danger-Russ Gordon
From Tempe, AZ
Mar 4, 2013
Russ Just off the block
Hey Brian in SLC,

Thanks, I'll check that!

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By darin
Mar 4, 2013
It seems like a pretty bad idea for the general climbing community. Many other parks, private areas, etc have much easier to get through requirements for concessions and permits. With these options, the risk to reward ratio doesnt seem worth it to me. Especially if you consider the possible risk to public access.

Check this article from a few weeks ago. Ive read a few articles about busts for illegal guiding, but they usually go hand in hand with hunting/poaching.

outdoornews.com/January-2013/J...

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By randy88fj62
Mar 4, 2013
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades
I know of a person who got caught guiding a group in death valley national park this year. The person charged $49 per person to take a group of people canyoneering. Rangers found out and the person was warned. The person still took the group out.

That person got caught, and was fined for guiding without a permit, not paying entrance fee, not paying campground fee, and one other charge which I forget.

The rangers are serious and if they find out you will be fined. Not to mention the liability involved when you are taking others out.

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By Ken@roadtrip
From Ut, Id, AZ
Mar 4, 2013
Not only is it discouraged it is illegal. Outfitting and guiding is administered under a permit system. Primarily to protect clients, insuring they receive a safe and quality experience. Clients,Public land agency,and outfitter s are protected Under various liability insurance policies to protect all involved. Sorry! There is NO public land agency that turns a blind eye towards illegal outfitting/guiding. I've seen vioatlions result in mandatory court appearance and huge fines.

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By Danger-Russ Gordon
From Tempe, AZ
Mar 4, 2013
Russ Just off the block
Hey darin,

Thanks for the link to that article, that intense for sure, for hunting the authorities really don't mess around, and I can only assume its the same for climbing.

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By 20 kN
Administrator
From Hawaii
Mar 4, 2013
If it is an individual, then the risk is almost zero. How could the NPS possibly find out that a single climber hired a single guide? The only way they could find out is if one member of the party admitted to it, in which case s/he is a moron. Group events, on the other hand, are a different story. It is slightly harder to defend a story that someone is "just friends" with another eight people and s/he wanted to take them out on a trip. But still, as long as everyone exercises their legal right to refuse questioning without legal presence, the NPS would have a very hard time building a case without the presence of a third-party witness.

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By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Mar 4, 2013
Take note:

NPS staff do read these forums. Whatever you think about the practice of illegal guiding, you probably ought not to talk about it here.

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By Danger-Russ Gordon
From Tempe, AZ
Mar 4, 2013
Russ Just off the block
Thanks for all the input guys, I guess part of the reason I am asking is i am moving to zion this summer as a canyoneering guide (for a resort just outside the park) and I know some friends have expressed interest in me guiding them on several climbs and canyons and offered to pay me. It would be just one or two clients at the most. I am still sorting through if I think its morally ok to accept money for guiding them in a situation like this, I know I would not get caught but thats not really the issue im worried about, the more I think about it the more I am leaning towards not accepting money, maybe I'll let them buy me dinner and call it good, any thoughts on my situation?

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By rock_fencer
From Columbia, SC
Mar 4, 2013
Myself placing a a blue/yellow offset MC to protec...
Just go out as a group of friends. Have them buy gas and d dinner

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By ben schuldt
From Morris, MN
Mar 4, 2013
me in mid summer on the column direct
rock_fencer wrote:
Just go out as a group of friends. Have them buy gas and d dinner


+1

I was going to ask what the difference is between 'guiding' a couple of people for a nominal fee/beer and 'going climbing' with a couple of new friends who have never been climbing in exchange for some cash/beer to cover some costs.

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By goatdavemac
From Flat Rock, NC
Mar 4, 2013
As long as no one gets hurt, not a good idea....if someone gets hurt, and then you try and claim it on your company's insurance, good luck. One rule in most insurance policies for recreation business is that you are operating legally. If you are not operating legally (your poached guiding/permit) and something happens, they will not pay. You would then be stuck with the whole tab, plus possible jail time and a hefty fine.

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By Brian Scoggins
From Eugene, OR
Mar 4, 2013
The big reason I'm against unofficial guiding is that when its on public land, the land owner, namely me and the rest of the country, are not getting a cut for the use of public lands. If I have to pay taxes out of my income to support the national park system, you can be damn sure that I want people who are making money from the NPS to do the same. Considering that the NPS is already on a shoestring budget, and entry fees keep going up, I think pirate guiding (that is, for money, rather than beer, gas, or food) in any area administered by the NPS is indefensible.

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By Josh
From Golden, CO
Mar 4, 2013
Stairway to Heaven (pitch 3)
+1 Brian from Eugene. Well said.

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By Andy Novak
From Golden, Co
Mar 4, 2013
Living the High Life.
Are you seriously asking on a public forum, presumably under your real name, if you should illegally guide in Zion National Park?




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By 20 kN
Administrator
From Hawaii
Mar 5, 2013
Brian Scoggins wrote:
The big reason I'm against unofficial guiding is that when its on public land, the land owner, namely me and the rest of the country, are not getting a cut for the use of public lands. If I have to pay taxes out of my income to support the national park system, you can be damn sure that I want people who are making money from the NPS to do the same.

How is that the guide's fault? I think in most cases where pirate guiding exists, it is because the government has a monopoly on the guiding industry forcing consumers into a small tunnel, or they just dont allow guiding at all. If the government expanded guiding to allow any professional to guide, pirate guiding would not as much of an issue.

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By Clifton Santiago
Mar 5, 2013
Andy Novak wrote:
Are you seriously asking on a public forum, presumably under your real name, if you should illegally guide in Zion National Park?


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By Steve Williams
From Denver, CO
Mar 5, 2013
Just Don't do it!!!!!

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By Lance S
From Maryville, TN
Mar 5, 2013
On top of the first pitch of the Nose
Yeah, there seems to be a bit of a grey area with what constitutes guiding. Obviously, taking 4 people out who have never climbed is pretty clearly guiding. My wife and I went to Tuolumne for the first time a few years back and paid a guy to show us around. Since we had never been there before and being that I don't have a trad rack, it was helpful to have someone that was familiar with the area and lead a few harder routes that I otherwise would not be able to get on. We may have been riding somewhere in that grey area . . .

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By Tom Cecil
Mar 5, 2013
A little off topic but it relates-
Monopolies are bad. If access was more equitable there would be very little 'pirate guiding'. If -I had exclusive access to one of Americas national gems it would be hard to not make a living, however, guiding will never be a legitimate occupation (except for those select few who have monopolized access ie: Exum, YMS, Rainier etc..) until all guides/rock instructors are allowed to work anywhere on public land (if they have the required insurance), then those guides who actually do a good job would get a good reputation and would prosper and those who don't would not. That's usually how the world works when people hire a craftsman (rock craft) it's usually by reputation. In my 40 years of climbing (the last 28 full time rock guiding) my experience is that "certifications' are used to to infer competency where none to little exists. I've hired and trained guides for decades--it takes longer than a few weeks to gain the skills and knowledge to be effective and efficient--it takes years of experience. The rules for guiding are all over the place, some parks, land managers require certifications (creating monopolies) others just require insurance--why?. I think the real question is why do these certifications exist? Was there a rash of incompetent guiding going on? Were accidents happening all over the place? The original idea behind certification was to get American guides access to Europe (how many in the organization actually care about guiding in Europe) and eventually monopolize access to our public lands---At this point it seems certification exist so a few people can make money "certifying" others--if these organizations could they would exclude everyone who is not certified by them---pretty lame.
I'm going climbing-if you see me in one of our national parks--I'm not guiding-

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By Brian Scoggins
From Eugene, OR
Mar 10, 2013
20 kN wrote:
How is that the guide's fault? I think in most cases where pirate guiding exists, it is because the government has a monopoly on the guiding industry forcing consumers into a small tunnel, or they just dont allow guiding at all. If the government expanded guiding to allow any professional to guide, pirate guiding would not as much of an issue.


Look, USnavy, I said the same in the rockclimbing.com thread: I think the enforced monopoly is a shitty deal and should be changed. But stealing from me by not giving the NPS a cut when you guide on public land is really, REALLY not gonna get my sympathy, and it certainly won't accelerate the process of changing that requirement.

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By Ethan Newman
Mar 10, 2013
As someone who works for another guiding service in Zion National park, I suggest that it's a pretty bad idea for a number of reasons:

1. The community here is really small. The wilderness rangers mostly live in town, and would probably recognize you. The ones who climb also read these forums.
2. The current high level management sees guiding within the park as a liability, rather than an asset. If the wilderness rangers/LE officers catch you, you're going to fuck up any sort of chance that there may be guiding in Zion in the future, ESPECIALLY since you work for a legitimate guide service in the town.
3. There is so much other rock and canyons around, including big walls and full day canyons, that there isn't really an excuse for it.
4. Partially the reason that guiding is not yet allowed in the park is impact. Because of this you'll still have to get a permit at the backcountry desk (see #1). Not suggesting that people would have to be rescued, but the big routes around here can be sandy, loose, etc. Not great client terrain. Also, rescues impact the area pretty hard (not saying you'd have to get rescued, just a thought).

The management in the ZNPS may be changing soon, and the climbing policy will be reviewed within the next two years. Don't jeopardize the potential to legitimize guiding around here just because your bud wants to pay you twenty bucks to sleep on a portaledge on moonlight buttress.

FLAG


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