First Ascent specializes in scout programs (boy and girl) especially for rock climbing merit badge instruction. Our guides are specifically trained to run the kids through the merit badge requirements. We have been taking scouts climbing since 1994. We exceed the standards set forth in the "Climb On Safely" program.
We charge $350 for each guide. We recommend a 4 to 1 climber to guide ratio (not going for merit badges). We can push it to 5 to 1, but the experience is compromised because there are more people on the ground than climbing. For example, a troop of 12 should have 3 guides for a total of $1,050 for the day. That adds up to a total of $87.50 per person.
If your troop has budget constraints, we recommend that you divide them into two groups, one group climbing in the morning while the other goes hiking and vice-versa in the afternoon. That way if, for example, you have the group of 12, there would be only 6 people climbing at once and you would need only two guides for a total of $700 for the day, or about $59.00 per person.
If the troop is going for their merit badges, you may want to keep the ratio small, ideally 3 to 1, because of the time that is consumed fulfilling the requirements.
Dear First Ascent,
I cannot thank you enough for bailing me out last month when you agreed at a moments notice to guide my troop at Smith Rock when that other guide service cancelled us at the last minute. You turned an absolute disaster into an unbelievably great experience.
Your emphasis on respect for the environment and proper climbing technique, as well as your fanatical attention to safety, was the perfect combination for this group. We all learned a great deal and everyone had a super time.
Next year, with lots of advance notice, we hope to again use your services.
Thanks again John. It was great.
Scoutmaster, Troop 1
This letter was written in 1998 and Troop 1 of Portland has been climbing with us every year since!
Dear First Ascent,
You provided rock climbing training for a group of boys and adults from our scout troop last month. I want to let you know how pleased we were with your two instructors. They were not just good, they were EXCELLENT. Knowledgeable, patient, unflappable, friendly, encouraging and personable. Those are not qualities that are easy to maintain throughout an entire day of teaching 12 and 13 year old boys, but they did. They knew not only how to teach climbing skills but to build confidence at the same time. It was easily the finest outdoor instruction I have ever witnessed. You have two very valuable assets in these two instructors.
Could you please send me whatever promotional materials you have concerning these courses? We would like to share that information with other troops in the area so that more boys can benefit from the same quality instruction that we had the good fortune to enjoy.
Thank you for being so good at what you do.
Yours very truly,
Craig G. Reimer
Scoutmaster, Troop 2
I am writing this letter to recommend the guide services of First Ascent for youth organizations. By way of introduction, I have served as the Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 1 for five years. For the past 11 years, I have been a cubmaster, assistant scoutmaster or scoutmaster in very active units; so I’ve been working with youth for quite a while. I also am an avid climber and lead a mountaineering program and high adventure program for our troop. And I am a volunteer rescuer for Portland Mountain Rescue. In these various capacities, I have climbed with numerous guide services and have hired First Ascent many times.
Each spring, our troop spends a day climbing at Smith Rock, which is a high point for us. For at least 10 years (probably longer), we have hired First Ascent to organize and guide the event. Typically, we have three to four First Ascent guides. When I first became involved in the event, First Ascent would set up top ropes in one of the typical learning areas at Smith Rocks. After a couple of years, I worked the guides to offer more challenging multi-pitch climbs for our few scouts who have earned the climbing merit badge. Last year, we staged an incredible special event involving a Tyrolean traverse from the main rock to the mouth of Monkey face, from which the boys rappelled 180’ to the ground. I believe we put 18 scouts through that program, all of whom went home fully amped by the experience.
I can’t say enough good things about our experience with First Ascent. At the top of our list of compliments are the wonderful guides. As a rule, climbing guides are mostly safe and fun individuals, but First Ascent has managed to attract and retain truly outstanding individuals. They are highly professional and absolutely command safety first, which has to be the first priority for any youth organization. Beyond that, their guides work very well with youth groups, a skill you will not find in all guide services. First Ascents runs its own summer camps, which I think has attracted guides who work well with kids and has provided training and opportunities to refine their programs to accommodate a range of youth. Over the years, I have gotten to know several of their guides, and sincerely look forward to seeing them again each spring.
Over the years, our troop has had a few scouts with special needs, both physical and mental. The First Ascent guides have always gone out of their way to accommodate, reassure and encourage these kids. On several occasions, the experience has given these scouts a huge success in their lives--lives in which success in challenging physical activities is a rarity.
I wish you similar success in your scout climbing program. If you would like to discuss our troop’s experience with First Ascent or our experience with climbing and other high adventure, I would be happy to talk with you. Sincerely, Mark Morford, Portland, OR