New guide company begins in Vail Valley |

New guide company begins in Vail Valley

Daily staff report

EAGLE-VAIL — The Vail Valley’s newest backcountry guide organization, Vail Mountain Guides, is now open as a cooperative with a number of long-time local guides, including company partners Ben Markhart and Nils Peterson, as well as assistant director, Kathleen Saum.

Vail Mountain Guides is already working with local organizations for future programming, and creating opportunities for locals and visitors to access adventure with both fun and safety in mind.

“Our trips are not run-of-the-mill, and our guides can challenge and teach to a degree that’s customized to any skill or experience level,” said Markhart, director of field operations for Vail Mountain Guides. “We can teach you how to make the most of a one-night backpacking trip, or how to ski the Grand Traverse.”

Innovative partnerships

“We can teach you how to make the most of a one-night backpacking trip, or how to ski the Grand Traverse.”Ben MarkhartVail Mountain Guides director of operations

Vail Mountain Guides this summer is offering a variety of guided trips, courses, and private instruction in rock climbing, wilderness education, hiking, backpacking, mountaineering and hut trips. The company has also partnered with local yoga and adventure company, In Your Element, for a hut-based Backcountry Summer Yoga Series, and with local non-profit, Big Heart Big Hands, for its first annual safety focused trip, called Backcountry Basics, in August.

Vail Mountain Guides this winter will offer education in affiliation with the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, and seasonal trips will include ice climbing, backcountry touring, hut trips and mountaineering.

“We’re excited to have one of our partners and sponsored athlete, Justin Ibarra, bringing his splitboard courses and guiding private hut trips,” Markhart said.

Vail Mountain Guides’s community calendar will post group outings, as well as educational seminars held in its Eagle-Vail office.

“Part of our commitment is to work with the local community and to run a wide variety of free and low-cost, seminar-style programs,” Markhart said. “These will range from mountain training and fitness, to skills and techniques, to presentations about awesome trips our guides have done.”

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