TODD Talks – with Jacob Schmitz

Mountain Trip seeks the best guides in the business. Our guides are well traveled, highly knowledgeable, professional and awesome people. But, don’t take it from us, get to know our guides for yourself!

Jacob Schmitz

The irrepressible Jacob Schmitz on the summit of Everest in 2012.

Jacob Schmitz chose to become a mountain guide in the late 90s while working in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park. He loved playing and working outside, and his passion was climbing so it naturally made sense. Jacob spends 250+ days each year on expeditions; that’s a lot of time! So much in fact, that he hasn’t been home for Christmas in over 15 years. Mountain Trip Director Todd Rutledge caught up with Jacob to get all the dirt on life, guiding expeditions and his love of the outdoors when he passed through Ophir, CO last week.

Todd: What relevant experience did you have when you started guiding?

Jacob: Since I was a little kid, I would go on camping trips with my family. When I was 12 I started climbing and quickly became very passionate about the sport. In my 20’s, I worked so I could climb and travel, so I learned a lot of lessons the hard way. Then, I worked as an assistant for years under some great guides and tried to absorb as much knowledge as possible from every expedition. I owe so much to all my mentors.

Todd: What sort of courses, education or certifications have you taken along the way?

Jacob:  From the time I began guiding, I have always held the WMI Wilderness First Responder. I have an ARIE Level 2  Avalanche Certification, and hope to take the Level 3 in the near future. I have also taken AMGA courses along the way to help with more technical rock and alpine guiding.

Todd: For how long and where have you guided?

Jacob: I have been guiding for 15 years all around the world. Some of the more notable places I have been are: Tibet, Nepal, Pakistan and Antarctica. In 2013 I completed the “7 Summits” while guiding,  that was a great way to see the world. I mostly work on high altitude peaks. I’ve done 60+ 6,000 meter peaks, and this year will be my 5th trip to an 8,000 meter peak.

Everest slack line

Slack lining at Everest Base Camp

Todd: What is the most rewarding part of the job?

Jacob: The most rewarding part of my job is seeing a team member’s face when they summit. It feels great to see someone succeed, after they put so much hard work and energy into a goal that is not always guaranteed.

Todd: How do you return to the same venue over and over, yet still keep it fresh for your clients?

Jacob:: Returning to a mountain is a good thing! You get to know the area, where to shop, eat, take the team for day trips and explore. When you become comfortable on a big mountain and get to know the weather patterns and terrain, you are able to make good decisions about moving to a higher camp or summiting.

Also, each team is unique, and no two trips are alike. Being with like-minded people in the mountains is always fresh and exciting.

Todd: Do you have any tips or advice for people who are considering climbing a big, cold mountain?

Jacob:  I always try to stay as organized as possible. When I’m in my tent I know where my boots are and that they won’t fill up with snow. If I need to go out to work on the tents or put up snow walls I know exactly where my warm gloves and goggles are. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best but most importantly enjoy all of it, the good and the bad. It’s all part of being in the mountains. Sometimes you have to have a sense of humor when the wind won’t stop, for days…

Vinson tent

Yucking it up in the tent on Mount Vinson this past season

Todd: What was your first concert?

Jacob: I’m not sure… My parents took me to a few while they went on Harley rides.  I remember a Reggae Sun Splash at the Greek Theater in Los Angles was a lot of fun! I was pretty young, around seventeen.

Todd: What do you do for fun in your spare time?

Jacob: More and more, I’ve been able to travel to a lot of amazing places. I’m a history buff so I really enjoy seeing amazing historic cities in Europe or ruins in Asia and South America. It’s a small world filled with wonderful people, and spectacular places!

Todd: Any parting thoughts?

Jacob: There are still so many places I would like guide and go to travel. New Zealand is in my future and I would like to return to Peru and Bolivia. I love each and every moment in the mountains. Guiding has allowed me to follow my dreams and explore the world, I’m forever grateful for that.

Todd: Who is you favorite boss? 😉

Jacob: You are Bill!  Oh wait – this is Todd Talks…. Of course you are Todd!  Come on – I meant Laura!

Stay tuned to meet more of our guides!

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