We have been a little slow and silent about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While you’ve been getting an email from literally every company you’ve ever interacted with about the virus, we have been lost in what to say.
Not because we don’t care or don’t know what to do to protect our staff and clients, but because we have been hit HARD. Instantly. It has hit everyone hard, and we know that. We have been processing everything and what that means for us as a family and business.
We struggled with exactly how much we wanted to share, but we strive to be transparent and honest. We did want to share with you our feelings because it’s important in a time like this. Many small, family run businesses will be facing financial hardships throughout the entirety of this pandemic, including us. It’s just us, Ben, Whitney and little Layton running the show. We have a few loyal employees that it has affected as well. This is what we do to put food on our tables and it is so scary not knowing how long this is going to last and what will happen in the future.
While we do feel all the precautions are necessary to keep our family, town, state, county and the whole world safe, it is still hard to process and deal with. We never thought we’d see something like this in our lifetime, no matter how many zombie movies Whitney has watched.
We don’t know what will happen, even once we reach the end of the eight-week quarantine. There is so much unknown and that causes so much fear and anxiety in the world. We do believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel; it’s just a little dark while we’re inside. We hope that we as a society can band together to support each other and learn a new type of kindness.
Here’s what we’re doing currently:
-First and foremost, we care about the health and safety of our staff and clients and are doing what’s necessary to protect them.
-We are following the CDC and Governor Polis’ recommendations.
-We are connecting with our clients on a case-by-case basis, and handling all requests as quickly and as best we can.
-If you currently have a trip on the calendar between now and mid-May, we are honoring full refunds (or future reschedules).
-We will be posting fun and beautiful pictures on Instagram and Facebook to help distract for the anxiety inducing posts in your news feeds.
-We are encouraging others to follow the recommendations of the CDC, local governing bodies, businesses, outdoor areas, and cities as posted. I.e. National Parks are requesting you DON’T visit them right now to limit the exposure of their staff and places like Moab are asking visitors to stay away because they would not be equipped to handle a breakout if that happened. Elective travel is discouraged right now and it’s recommended you avoid crowded outdoor areas (i.e. I know you have a lot more free time right now, but crowding up your favorite crag is probably not the best idea). Now’s the time to find the “off the beaten path.”
-We’re staying busy preparing to be ready to take you climbing as soon as possible!
We encourage you to be kind to one another, to look for the path less travelled, and to find a distraction to get through these hard times.
We will get through this together! We have to.
It's winter time here in Golden, Colorado! While we do rock climb all year long, we also offer a unique opportunity to have fun outside during the colder months. Ice climbing is truly a unique and interesting sport that not a lot of people have tried or even heard of! Once it's seen in action, many think it's hard or dangerous. Quite the contrary, ice climbing is fun and very beginner friendly. Here are a few reasons why you should give ice climbing a go!
1. It's something new to try! Everything is worth a go at least once!
2. You’ll look badass! I mean, come on... ice axes are some seriously cool looking tools and when you're literally climbing UP vertical ice pillars, you will look awesome. Talk about great Instagram pictures.
3. Speaking of Instagram, the views while ice climbing are breathtaking. Climbing during the winter offers a new way to see your favorite spots.
4. You'll stay in shape and keep your fitness up for rock climbing season. Ice climbing uses the same muscles you use to scale rock walls but in slightly different ways. These moves will keep you fit all winter long and you'll be ready for those 5.10s come spring!
5. Every ice climbing trip is unique! The ice forms different every year, giving you unique challenges each time. Plus, as people climb it and new ice forms, it changes it’s shape throughout the season. Ice climbing is a truly unique sport; it's different than any other sport and there's a unique formation every year.
6. You'll experience the mountains in a new way. And get a new respect for mother nature. Some ice climbing spots are a challenge to get to and require extra knowledge and gear for avalanche safety. When you get into the sport, mother nature will be a whole new creature to you.
7. You can “sharpen” your skills. Yes that’s an ice climbing pun. All the basic rock climbing skills (knots, anchor set up, etc.) are still used for ice climbing. Keep your skills on point (another pun) by practicing them in a new environment during the off season. When snow and ice is covering the ground, it allows for you to look at the environment in a new way and build anchors with what’s available.
Are you ready to give this new sport a try? Give us a ring or BOOK a day ice climbing trip!
Happy New Year from all of us at Golden Mountain Guides! We wish you a year full of adventure and awesome climbing!
A Message From The Owners:
As the new decade begins, we want to take a minute to say thank you for an awesome year. We know you haven’t seen an email from us in a long time; 2019 was a busy year for us as we welcomed a new member into our family. Baby Layton joined the Golden Mountain Guide's team on July 11, 2019 and it has been a whirlwind ever since!
As a new year begins, it's natural to reflect back on the previous year. 2019 was a year of growth for us as we refined our experiences and focused on our staff. When starting this business, we not only wanted to share our passion for climbing with the world, we also wanted to create a work environment where others could pursue a career in the outdoor industry - and make a living at it! Last year, we had fewer guides on staff so that each member of our team could focus on their career goals in the outdoor and guiding industry.
This also allowed our staff to refine their skills and we now have THREE AMGA Rock Guides on staff!
We, and YOU, have a lot to look forward to in 2020! We are adding more permits which means MORE places to climb with Golden Mountains Guides. Some of those places include more Ice Climbing locations (like Lincoln Falls)! We are also offering a lot more classes and clinics for people to refine their own skills.
While we are adding a lot within our company, we will still offer our same great service and Skills, Scenery, and Smiles with every experience! Our staff has the SKILLS to teach you the SKILLS, every trip has amazing SCENERY and you'll always leave with a SMILE!
Here's to 2020!
Ben and Whitney, Owners of Golden Mountain Guides
The owners of Golden Mountain Guides love living in Golden, CO. As Colorado natives and Golden residents for over six years, they spend a lot of time playing and discovering fun things to do all year round. Summertime brings a plethora of activities, eliciting fun for the whole family! Here are eight fun, outdoor activities you and your whole family can try while in Golden!
1. Rock Climbing
Let's just get the shameless promotion out of the way first. Yes, we may be biased, but rock climbing is a great way to play in the outdoors and the whole family can participate! Just outside the city, Clear Creek Canyon offers a variety of rock climbing routes for all abilities, overlooking the river below as it runs through the curvy canyon cliffs. Inside the city limits, you can also climb at North Table Mountain. This crag overlooks the city and with a short, steep hike, you're under the cliffs ready to climb! Book a privately guided trip with Golden Mountain Guides.
2. Water Sports In Clear Creek (Kayaking, White Water Rafting, Tubing, SUPing)
Clear Creek spills through Golden and creates amazing views and offers a great place to stroll alongside on a cool summer evening. It also offers many different types of recreation like white water rafting, kayaking, tubing and SUPing. You can rent equipment, hire a guide or if you're a skilled athlete at the sport, you can don your own equipment and take to the river.
White Water Rafting: Mile-Hi Rafting
Kayaking/SUPing: Need to rent equipment or want to take lessons? Check out Golden River Sports.
Tubing: There are also many different outfitters in Golden that rental tubes to float down the river. Try Adventure West River Tube Rentals.
Notes: Clear Creek can be VERY dangerous. Always wear a personal floatation device and pay attention to city warnings/closures when the water level is too high or too fast. Tubing is not suitable for toddlers or infants. There are inherent risks when participating in any water sport.
There are 100’s of trails within a 20 mile radius of Golden, many within walking distance from downtown Golden. Some of our favorite are:
-South Table “castle rock” Trail - This hike is heavily used but is worth the steep (but short) hike to the top, overlooking the whole city.
-North Table Rim Trail: This trail circumnavigates North Table Mountain and offers beautiful views of Golden and Denver in the distance with a lot of cool rock formations and wildflowers.
-Mayhem Gulch and Juniper Loop (Centennial Cone) - During the spring, this hike has many wildflowers. Mayhem Gulch circles around to Juniper Loop Trail (a 4.7 mile loop) total. On the back side of this loop, you can also connect to Centennial which is a 15 mile loop for hiking and mountain biking.
Golden has so many fun festivals all year round. During the summer, don't miss these fun events:
-Buffalo Bill Days (complete with parade, live music, Buffalo Bill show, and more!)
-Golden Fine Arts Festival
-Chili Cook Off and Beer Festival (all your can eat chili and beer tastings!)
-Movies and Music in the Park
-Golden Farmer's Market (Saturdays from June to the first week in October)
Take the whole family to Golden's outdoor swimming pool complete with slide, splash zone and even a giant sandbox for even the littlest of family members! Website.
There are plenty of places for all types of bikers. Mountain bikers will find many trails exclusively for them (Apex Park) and road bikers have a great selection of challenging roadways to bike (Lookout Mountain). For the more leisurely biker, you can rent bikes at the Golden Bike Library and cruise through town, beside Clear Creek or maybe make your own biking tour of the local breweries and restaurants.
7. Enjoy the Patio Lifestyle Or Discover A Local Mico-Brewery
Coors isn't the only beer in the game in Golden anymore! Now, there are eight micro-breweries offering amazing beers and great atmospheres for the whole family to enjoy. Parents can grab a brew (or two) while the kids sip on homemade root beers and play games. Many of the breweries have rotating food trucks so you can grab a bite to eat while chilling on the patio. Keeping with the outdoors theme, our favorite is New Terrain Brewing Company where their motto is "Alive is the pursuit of adventures unknown & territories unseen with an insatiable curiosity to explore hops, barely, water and yeast. The unbound journey exists for those who wander." We also love Coda Brewery and their patio nestled in the residential district.
With a ton of great restaurants and breweries within the city, there comes a ton of great patios to relax with the whole family and grab a bite to eat. One of our favorites is the patio at the Bridgewater Grill, right alongside the river with views of Lookout Mountain.
Summer is officially here! If you haven’t already started planning your summer travel plans, you might be getting started now. As you pick a destination and compile all the things you’re going to do, here’s a few reason why we think rock climbing should be on your to-do list!
1. No experience necessary
That’s right, anyone can try rock climbing; no experience necessary! By hiring a guide, you know you’re in the good hands of someone that can teach you the “ropes” and help you overcome any fears you may have.
2. You’ll get great photos
Perfect for Instagram!
3. You can find a new way to enjoy the outdoors.
Maybe you’ll find that you really enjoy rock climbing and want to pursue it further.
4. Unique Colorado experience
Even if you’re already a seasoned climber, rock climbing in a new location always offers a unique experience. There are new views to check out and different routes to try. By hiring a guide, they can show you the locals’ favorite spots to climb and give you beta on classic routes. Try a classic route in Eldorado Canyon or climb the iconic Flatirons.
5. Hone in on your current skills
Maybe summer gives you a little more free time to work on your hobbies! By signing up for a privately guided trip, you can work on your skills like building anchors, self-rescue or technique that will help you reach that next level of climbing! Maybe there’s a route you’ve had your eye on but no partner to climb it with – hire a guide!
We may be a bit biased, but rock climbing is a huge passion of ours and we love to share our passion with others! That’s why we think you should add rock climbing to your summer travel plans!
Book a trip with Golden Mountain Guides! All of our trips are privately guided with a ratio of no more than one guide for every five people. All trips are customizable to your goals/skills! All trips include shoes, harness, helmets and an AMGA certified guide.
Just in time for Valentines Day, we wanted to give you some ideas on how to enjoy the great outdoors with your date, even in the middle of winter!
1. Rock Climbing (or ice climbing, if it’s cold enough!)
We might be biased, but rock climbing is such a fun date - and it's for all abilities! It's what Ben and I, the owner's of Golden Mountain Guides, did for our first date! We’re lucky that we live in Colorado because we can pretty much rock climb any time of the year. Here in Golden, North Table Mountain warms up nicely in the sunshine and we get plenty of warm days during the winter weeks. If it's just too cold to put your hands on the rocks, try ice climbing with your partner!
Book a trip for your and your date.
2. Hiking or Snowshoeing
Hiking with your date is always a great idea. Just check in with them on how hard of a hike they want to do and then look around for an appropriate area.
Snowshoeing trails around Denver
3. Visit an outdoor sculpture garden
Walk around and admire the art. Pretend you are art critics and make up serious (or funny) reviews. There are a ton of sculptures in downtown Golden!
You can’t go wrong with sledding (unless the hill goes right into traffic). Feel like a kid again. Grab a cheap plastic sled and hit the hills with your date!
5. Ice skating on a mountain lake
Think Hallmark. Mountains all around, fresh air, holding hands. Picture perfect date! Try Evergreen Lake.
6. Hot Springs
Winter time is the best time to visit a hot springs. Colorado has many to choose from. Some indoors, some outdoors, some natural, some free. One of our favorites is Hot Sulphur Springs near Granby. Grab your suits, towels and spend a day in the natural waters.
Let us know in the comments: What are some of your favorite outdoor, winter date ideas??
Since we're stuck inside today because of rain, let's take a vote. How many people think the figure 8 knot is the most valuable knot a climber can know? What about a bowline, clove hitch, or flat overhand? Well our vote goes to the Munter hitch! (Technically it's a hitch, but that's splitting hairs!)
The Munter hitch, or Italian hitch, is quite versatile and has many uses including a belay, load transfers, and can easily be turned into a clove hitch. Any self rescue that we perform as a climber is based around proficiency with the Munter hitch and its subsequent knots, the mule knot and the overhand knot.
Let's start off easy. The Munter hitch is quite easy to tie, especially with only one hand! Roll over or click each picture for a description.
Now, let's add in the mule knot and the overhand backup. This is a great way to go hands free in a rescue scenario. Commonly called "baseline," this particular setup makes it extremely easy to transition into a raise, lower, or technical descent.
It's all too easy to learn these knots once, and completely forget them when you need them most. Get out and practice with some friends, put your dog on belay with a Munter, or work one on one with a guide to ensure you are the best climbing partner you can be!
Written by Ben Coryell, An Owner of Golden Mountain Guides
It was dark, cold, and above else, miserable. The wind violently shook the car. With clumsy fingers, I finished lacing up my boots and stepped out into the howling black of the night. My hands were already freezing and my toes felt numb. The sound of crunching snow underfoot reminded me of the 'squeak' styrofoam makes when touched. I knew the approach. I had hiked this way hundreds of times, although, something about today felt different. The cold! That had to be it!
The normal quick jaunt to Mills Lake seemed to take forever in the overcast, grey sky. No spectacular sunrise today. It was so cold I had started to believe the sun didn't even exist. What were we doing up here?
I had heard many horror stories of the the approach to the Rocky Mountain National Park classic, All Mixed Up. As normal, I was convinced it would not be as bad as everyone said. I was very wrong! The words post holing, flailing, groaning, and suffering didn't even come close to describing the misery of wallowing through waist deep sugar snow for 1,700 vertical feet. For every step we took upwards, the snow put us back two. The path we excavated was quickly back filled behind us as the 60 mph gusts concealed all traces of human activity.
Two and a half hours after beginning up the slope of misery, we stood at the base of our objective. The ice looked much thinner than expected. Today, it was more mixed up than normal. A quick snack, some water, and the chill of the wind brought us back to reality; we were here to climb! After trying to take pictures with numb hands, I realized that my camera was frozen. How was I supposed to update my Facebook from a belay ledge?
I stepped up onto the slabby gneiss with delicate tool placements. The scrape of crampons on rock was dulled out by the ever loudening growl of the wind. The few patches of climbable ice were delaminated from the rock behind it. 10cm stubby screws bit firmly, then poked through the backside of the ice. The reverberation of tool placements was sickening. There was nothing holding the ice up! There were no cracks for hexes or stoppers. Thank god we had a few pins for the hairline fractures in the rock!
Even though we climbed with efficiency, we were still chilled to the bone. Looking into the wind was miserable. Our breath froze on our faces. We had icicles growing from our eyelashes. After climbing quickly above poor protection, I was at the top. My partner climbed efficiently and met me at the belay. We set up the rappels and descended with lightening speed. Everything was covered with an ever growing coat of rhime.
We faced the same post holing nightmare on the descent. Our tracks had been covered up, and we again had to excavate a path down the slope to Mills Lake. The thought of warm food and cold beer at Ed's Cantina kept us moving with a purpose. Less than an hour later, we were back at the car. I half expected it to be flipped over on its side courtesy of the wind. As I unlaced my boots and peeled layers of frozen clothes off, I couldn't help but smile. Despite all the suffering, the freezing cold, the bone-chilling wind, I still had fun. Perhaps the suffering made our ascent more fun? Yeah right!
When learning any new skill or exploring a new area, be it hiking, running, skiing, snowshoeing, or climbing, hiring a guide is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Climbing is a pretty technical sport and we highly recommend hiring a guide to learn the "ropes" (see what we did there?).
We know what you just said in your head: “But my friend knows how to do that. They’ll teach me.”
Your friends may be pretty awesome climbers, and it seems like total sense to ask them to teach you their skills, but here are some real benefits to hiring a guide:
1. You’ll Have Your Guide’s Undivided Attention
When starting to climb, it is super tempting to tag along with a group of experienced people. Normally what happens is they teach you a few things, you wait around at the bottom while they get some climbs in and then when you’re finally on the rock, you’re left dangling from a rope on the wall, straining to hear your buddies at the base.... and they even drank all your beer! Believe me, we’ve all been there. With a guide, it’s just you and them and you have their undivided attention. They are there to teach you, not for their personal outdoor experience.
2. ALL THE SKILLS!
Your friends may be very smart, legends even, but chances are they are not certified. With a guide, you get the collective knowledge of hundreds of people who spend 200 plus days a year in the mountains teaching. They’ve taken many classes, passed many exams, read many books, and know the five most efficient ways to do just one thing. Your friends have their way, but that one way may not work for you. Having five options to learn a new task is more beneficial, especially for different types of learners.
3. Safety First
You like your friends, but when hanging out with a group, sometimes it’s not as cool to wear a helmet. Your guide is going to make protect your brain as they constantly assess the terrain and the risks associated with climbing. Plus, helmets make you look like an “alpinist.”
4. …which means you’ll feel more confident
Your guide has the knowledge, skills, and medical training to handle any situation that may occur (but wont because prevention is key). That means you are free to feel more comfortable and able to tackle those difficult tasks.
5. Patience, my friend
Your guide has plenty of it. This is what they love doing!
All guide led services are probably similar, but with Golden Mountain Guides, all guided trips are custom tailored to what you want to learn. Maybe you already know how to sport climb but want to break into trad climbing. Just tell your guide and that’s what you’ll work on. There’s no set teaching plan or “one trip fits all” mentality.
7. No question is stupid
Your guide is there to answer any and all questions you may have!
8. Good for a laugh
Oh, you bet there are jokes. Maybe even a few about climbers! (What type of music do climbers listen to? HARD ROCK!)
9. Local knowledge
A guide can help find the perfect places suited just for you to practice as well as local flora and fauna to check out (or avoid).
10. Try it before you buy it
With Golden Mountain Guides, all gear is included. That way you get a chance to find the perfect fit and test your skills before you spend the money on your own gear.
So next time your want to try out a new activity, look up a local guide to try it before before you get stuck dangling from a rock!
Written by: Whitney Vestal
Whitney is one of the owners of Golden Mountain Guides who love teaching people how to climb and reach goals they never thought possible. All trips are custom-tailored to your skill level. Even if you've never climbed, or have been climbing for many years, we can help take you to the next level. Whitney also writes at Racing The States blog.