Mt. Baker Mountain Guides
New guide service launches in Bellingham
Story by Brandy Kiger
Originally from Alaska, and a veteran on Colorado slopes, John Minier knows his way around the backcountry, but guiding wasn’t exactly what he had in mind when he set out in search of a career path.
Little by little, he found himself entrenched in the culture. He cut his teeth by mock guiding ski trips while going to school at the University of Colorado Boulder, and then took it to the next level by working with Kling Mountain Guides in Durango, where he started teaching avalanche classes and really pursuing life on the mountain.
It wasn’t long before the lure of the Cascades drew him north. “I’ve done a lot of different things and lived a lot of different places,” Minier said. “When I embraced the guide thing, I moved to Washington to work with International Mountain Guides on Mt. Rainier.”
Two years later, he gave up his commute from Bellingham to Rainier and decided to call Baker home. “I wanted to guide more locally and be around more and have a family and community instead of traveling the world nine months of the year, and this place had it all,” he said.
On January 1, Minier officially launched Mt. Baker Mountain Guides, a boutique guide service offering winter activities such as backcountry skiing tours, backcountry ski courses, ski mountaineering treks, ski traverses and avalanche education courses.
He’s found Mt. Baker to be the perfect launching ground for his guide service. “It’s a great little mountain for climbing and skiing and such a fabulous peak with great access,” he said. “There’s always snow and a ton of side and backcountry use, so it’s really important for people to know what they’re doing out there.”
He and his staff not only offer guided trips, but aim to equip recreationists with the skills necessary to survive on the mountain in any kind of conditions.
High on his list of priorities is avalanche safety. “It doesn’t take a big avalanche to put you in a bad spot,” he said, so he’s set up free clinics to educate people.
“People need those companion rescue skills so they have the tools and resources if something happens,” Minier said. “I encourage people to bring their friends along to one of our courses because they’ll be the ones digging you out.”
Minier is fully avalanche certified and has credentials as an avalanche instructor. He and Mt. Baker Mountain Guides are offering Level I AIARE avalanche courses, and he will also be offering Mt. Baker climbs and courses this summer. Courses include intro to mountaineering, advanced mountaineering, crevasse rescue clinics and ice climbing clinics.
Minier is also working through the American Mountain Guides Association certification process, and ultimately wants to become an International Federation Mountain Guides Associations-certified guide in the next few years.
“We run everything from training sessions to custom-built trips,” Minier said.
“The snowpack here is incredible. It’s relatively stable here and we can do [these kind of things] all winter.”
For more information and a full list of the courses Mt. Baker Mountain Guides is offering this winter, visit mtbakerguides.com. X