Southeast Mountain Guides, LLC strives to be the best at offering Via Ferrata climbing, guided rock climbing, and guided rappelling to all sorts of clients in a positive, professional environment. We are here to be a part of people’s lives as we lead them through their journey of rock climbing.
Here at Southeast we are passionate, proficient, and professional in everything that we do. We are dedicated to being positive and hardworking team-players, and carry an insatiable desire for growth and development. This encouraging environment is contagious throughout our crew and our client base – while we grow as crew members, our clients also grow as they progress in climbing! They know that what they experience and learn here is important, and keep returning and bringing others to experience Southeast for themselves.
Participants travel from all over to experience the uniqueness of Via Ferrata climbing. The Via Ferrata is a fantastic introductory experience to recreational climbing, and can be enjoyed by individuals, families, and large groups. Families and groups make up a majority of our client base. Common groups include Boy Scouts, church groups, and school groups. Due to the ease of introduction, most Via Ferrata clients are new or have very little experience with the sport of climbing. Although we see all types of clients, participants must be 10 years of age or older.
Guided Rock Climbing & Guided Rappelling
Southeast loves working with all age groups and all skill sets. We cater our trips to young or old. We also cater to clients of zero experience, or clients that have been climbing many years and are just looking for a climbing partner in our neck of the woods. That said, our most common client for guided climbing is adults with some experience who are looking to hone their climbing technique and technical skills. Since many of our beginner clients enjoy the Via Ferrata, a signification portion of our guided trips is made up of instructional or advanced clients.
Southeast offers multiple employment opportunities, which typically follow this format:
Crew Member → Senior Crew Member → Core Crew Member
Most employment starts as a crew member. This document details the crew member position only. Inquire for information on senior crew member and core crew member opportunities. Crew members may hold up to two positions:
- Via Ferrata Instructor (required, baseline position)
- Certified Climbing Instructor or Guide (optional, additional position)
Although every position at Southeast is vitally important, being a Via Ferrata Instructor is essentially our baseline. This position is the heart and soul of what makes Southeast thrive; therefore, Via Ferrata responsibilities are inherent in all crew member positions.
Via Ferrata Instructor Responsibilities
Via Ferrata instructors are responsible for the following tasks. Please note that not all responsibilities are listed here. Inquire to receive a copy of the Southeast training manual for full details.
- Facilitating Via Ferrata orientations
- Performing Via Ferrata rescues (aid to clients in need)
- Facilitating Via Ferrata add-ons such as rappelling or night climbing
- Supervising Via Ferrata participants while on the course
- Operating cash register and general sales
- Completing cleaning and general maintenance of the facility
Via Ferrata Instructor Training Process
All training for the Via Ferrata instructor position is completed internally. New hires are paired with 1 or 2 mentors. While training alongside their mentors, new hires may be working almost immediately with clients. Training is completed in four segments; however new hires may work on multiple segments at a time. At the end of each segment there is a final evaluation with an owner or other core crew member. Training moves at the pace of the new hire but typically most new hires complete the full training process in 10-14 weeks.
Via Ferrata Instructor Pay Scale
$10.50/hr is the base pay for a Via Ferrata instructor.
$8.50/hr is the base pay for a new hire. As new hires complete each (of the four) segments of the training program, they will receive a $.50 raise. Once all four segments are complete, the new hire will be earning the Via Ferrata instructor rate of $10.50/hr.
Overtime of time and a half is paid at 40hr/week.
All Southeast guided climbing or guided rappelling trips are completed by certified instructors. Southeast typically employs instructors with AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certifications. The minimum certification for Southeast guided trips is AMGA SPI (single pitch instructor). Southeast may also employ AMGA Rock Instructor or AMGA Rock Guide certifications. AMGA RI or higher can perform our multi-pitch and destination trips. You may inquire for more information.
Certified Climbing Instructor Responsibilities
Please note that not all responsibilities are listed here. Certified climbing instructors are responsible for these tasks.
- Performing Via Ferrata instructor responsibilities (detailed above)
- Leading half day and full day guided climbing or guided rappelling trips at the basic and instructional levels
Certified Climbing Instructor Training
Actual certification for single pitch or multi-pitch is completed by a differing organization than our company. As mentioned, Southeast typically employs AMGA certified instructors.
As also previously mentioned, Via Ferrata responsibilities are inherent in all crew member positions. This means that regardless of whether a crew member is pursuing a position as a certified climbing instructor, ALL new hires will start with the Via Ferrata training.
As it seems reasonable, training for guided trips may be completed during the Via Ferrata training. Regardless of certification level and guide experience, new hires will be mentored by one or more of our senior instructors. New hires will shadow the senior instructor and eventually co-instruct Southeast clients. Once the senior instructors feel confident that the new hire displays adequate qualities, skills, and knowledge of our area, the senior instructors will then shadow the new hire as the new hire begins to lead trips. Once this process is complete, new hires will be responsible for leading trips unsupervised. Climbing instructor training is completed at the pace of the aspiring instructor. As one would expect, the more prior experience the instructor has, the quicker the instructor can take trips out unsupervised.
Certified Climbing Instructor Pay Scale
Please note that while a new hire is being trained for guided trips they will be paid hourly at their current Via Ferrata instructor pay rate. Once a new hire has completed guide training they will receive the following pay scale:
Please note that these are paid per trip. A half day trip is 4.5 hours and a full day is 8 hours.
|Basic Climbing or Rappelling||Instructional Climbing or Rappelling||Advanced Climbing|
|2 Hour Session||$35||$35||–|
|Multi-Pitch Climbing Pay Scale|
|1 Person Trip||$150|
|2 Person Trip||$160|
Southeast Mountain Guides is a seasonal operation, open from March 1st through December 1st.
Within our season of operation there are also peak times of operation. During a week, Saturdays are usually the busiest day. Throughout the season, Spring break and Fall break are typically the busiest times of the season. Spring break often lasts from the middle of March to the middle of May. The summer months are busy throughout. Fall break typically lasts from the beginning of October to the beginning of November.
Crew members are expected to work a minimum of 20 hours per week. However, due to the peak seasons, hours fluctuate. During peak season, crew members should expect 30-50 hours per week. Furthermore, it is expected that each crew member is available to work every weekend for the complete season. That said, Southeast strives to be flexible to requested time off.
- We are a close-knit crew here at Southeast, where we truly care about each other and our clients.
- Our crew gains experience working with a variety of clientele, from a wide range of experience levels/backgrounds.
- This is not “just” a job where you show up and do the bare minimum. We strive to constantly develop ourselves and each other, which also means there’s plenty of room for growth, in the following avenues:
- Mentorship: As described in the Via Ferrata job description, all new hires undergo a training period during which they’re paired with 1-2 mentors. Over the years new hires have expressed that working with their mentors is very rewarding, enlightening, and empowering.
- Guiding opportunities: While the right person could certainly be fulfilled for multiple years as a Via Ferrata instructor, there’s definitely much room for growth in the guiding career path here at Southeast. The single pitch terrain in the Red River Gorge also makes a very friendly first step for aspiring instructors to experience the career path of a certified climbing/rappelling instructor.
Typical Path* of a Southeast Certified Instructor: *Please note that each instructor is unique, so each path will not be identical
- Via Ferrata
- Basic & Instructional Guided Climbing, Guided Rappelling
- Multi-pitch Guided Climbing (if instructor desires to follow this career/certification path)
- Advanced Guided Climbing
- Destination Guided Climbing
- Other areas of growth: If a crew member returns to Southeast for multiple seasons, positions as a Senior Crew Member or Core Crew member may be offered, depending on the crew member’s skill and dedication. Please inquire for more info!
- Crew Members receive a variety of work, keeping every week engaging. There’s opportunity to see all areas of a small business including: direct interaction with clients; sales and general office work; advertising and marketing; general maintenance; etc. We see variety in all of our offerings, from Via Ferrata to Guided Rappelling, to each level of Guided Climbing.
- The Via Ferrata shifts allow for relatively consistent work throughout the season. With many guide companies, instructors are only booked per reservation. Employment through Southeast includes a baseline of about 20 hours of work per week, even when there are no guided trips scheduled.
Due to our season of operation, there are peak times for our interview process. We typically conduct interviews from November to February. Please feel free to contact us if you’re interested in interviewing, regardless of this peak time.
Our interview process typically involves multiple steps. These steps are usually a meet and greet session, a more formal interview session, and a final less structured session. The first step of our process is a 30 minute meet and greet. We simply want to get to know by way of a small chat. These 30 minute meet and greet sessions can be in person or via Skype. After the meet and greet there will be 2 additional sessions. These sessions are more involved and may take anywhere from a couple of hours to a full day. There are many variables with these sessions, however they are typically completed in person. Depending on the situation, Skype may be acceptable. Throughout the interview process, interviewees will have the opportunity to meet all the core crew members.
Once all stages of the interview process is complete, the candidate may receive a job offer. Candidates will receive notification of a job offer via phone and email. Candidates will also receive a copy of the training manual. Once the job offer is accepted, the training process will commence. Training typically starts at the end of February. Through each of the four segments of Via Ferrata training (detailed above), the new hire will continually be evaluated. If at any point the candidate is deemed unfit for a position at Southeast, the training period will be terminated and the candidate will not receive a position. Once the training process is complete, the new hire will become a crew member!
We hope this has been helpful in detailing the employment opportunities at Southeast Mountain Guides. If at any time you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!