Kim Jacobs and her husband own an international adventure travel company called Mountain Spirits that takes people trekking, skiing and climbing all over the world including Asia, Europe and South America. When Kim is not working, she is climbing rocks somewhere on this planet, normally close to where she just finished guiding be it Utah, Idaho, Thailand, Spain, Italy, or Argentina. Kim chatted with us about her passion: helping others enjoy the outdoors.
What influenced your passion for the outdoors?
I think I was born with it. I definitely grew up in that “go outside and play” era! I was super lucky to grow up on a ranch on a river near the mountains with endless exploration opportunities.
Of all the outdoor activities and sports you do, which is your ultimate favorite?
My passions have changed over the years. My first “outdoor” love was riding my horse. Then it was skiing. Then it was mountain biking. Now (and for the past almost 20 years) my passion is climbing rocks. I love basically any type of climbing from overhanging sport routes to long, multi-pitch routes. Limestone, sandstone, granite, all of it!
Out of all of your adventures, which one has been the most powerful, or life-changing, to you?
My first trek in Nepal was a life changing trip. I was there on a normal American two weeks off from work type vacation (which is truly the bare minimum amount of time for a Nepal trip). I went on a trek and fell in love with the people, the simple lifestyle, and the mountains. While riding on the top of a bus (sitting backwards watching the Himalaya become further and further away) I was driven to quit that “real job” of mine and to find a way to be able to visit Nepal for a real chunk of time on a regular basis.
What drives you, or continues to drive you, to be a part of the Guiding/Outdoor Industry?
I love sharing my passion for the countries and landscapes we guide in. Seeing a place I love through the eyes of someone experiencing it for the first time is so exciting. That and I get to dream up new trips all the time. My company is unique in that it is small and we have dedicated fans that enjoy traveling with us (many of whom are reaching the 20 year mark with us!). To keep them interested, I have to invent new and exciting itineraries every year. What could be better?
Do you have a favorite piece of gear you can never see yourself parting with?
I have a North Face Blue Kazoo sleeping bag that is so old that the nylon now feels like silk. It gets used every season of every year and gets re-stuffed constantly. I can’t imagine having to replace this little nugget!
Where do you escape to when you’re having a bad day?
The closest trail I can find!
What’s next on the list for you?
We just started a non-profit branch to our business in response to the Nepal Earthquake Disaster of April. Throughout the years we have raised money for education and built schools in various Asian countries but this disaster inspired me to take the aid part of our philosophy to a higher level. Down the road I would like to focus more and more on helping people and giving back to them.
What’s your favorite meal to cook for clients on the trail?
I have to admit that I rarely have to cook on the trail because we run our trips in places where we get to bring a full kitchen staff (such as Nepal) or get to eat amazing four course meals in quaint refugios such as in Italy. That being said, Tasty Bites are my favorite on a backpacking journey!
Do you have any advice for guides just starting out?
First you have to LIKE people! Being a good athlete (skier, climber, biker) does not a good guide make. Guiding calls for enjoying people and having infinite patience. Spend a season guiding to see if you like it. Then move on to getting the certifications that apply to your field. Get your WFR. Start the AMGA process. I hear a lot of guides complaining that courses are “expensive” and “time consuming” but so is college! I got a BA in Business before I launched into the guiding world and having a degree to “fall back on” isn’t a bad thing. But if you don’t go that route, then put the money and time into furthering your guide education.