Welcome to our Mountain Culture
Pro Ski Service began in a tiny location in Seattle in 1991. As the name implies the original store focused on ski sales and service. I earned my Swiss IFMGA mountain guiding license in 1996. The combined knowledge acquired in the mountains and the retail store left a mark on how we do business to this day.
In 1999, I founded Pro Guiding Service, and opened up another retail location closer to the mountains in North Bend, WA. I sold the Seattle store in 2005 to focus on the North Bend store in conjunction with the guiding office.
In the summer of 2019, we moved from our small location on North Bend Way one block north to our current location at 112 West 2nd Street.
Pro Ski and Mountain Service
One thing that has made Pro Ski Service different from the start was our belief that there was no need for separation between a ski shop and a backcountry shop. We always thought that the two “sports” combined were mutually beneficial.
Our store has attracted a certain “authentic” employee who seems to enjoy a more personal and diverse work environment in and out of the mountains. Since its inception in 1999 Pro Ski and Mountain Service has been able to survive and thrive as a small specialty retail store in the foothill town of North Bend, WA and has slowly prospered into a refreshing option to the increasingly “pasteurized” retail environment. In serving the upper Snoqualmie Valley as well as the ski community of the greater Seattle area, it is quite common that we have a very young person trying on their first Park and Pipe boot next to a ski mountaineer who is getting ready for one of our international ski mountaineering trips. It is all mountain culture to us.
We have become a well-known name for all things skiing, ski touring, hiking and climbing. We stand by the brands we carry and feel confident we are providing the consumer with high quality products while trying to stay competitive in our pricing.
Our new retail venture into e-commerce will provide convenient shopping for our customers in the modern retail environment, but we will still be able to provide the service of a “brick and mortar” store.
Pro Guiding Service
Pro Guiding Service, our “sister company” proudly offers the most diverse ski touring and ski mountaineering program of any guiding service in the Northwest. However, as our tagline “ski-rock-alpine” indicates, we do a lot more than just ski touring. We have steadily expanded our offering for rock and alpine climbing. With sport rock climbing around North Bend we have incredible access to one of the largest sport climbing areas in the state of Washington. We ski and climb incredible day objectives on Snoqualmie Pass, which is located about twenty minutes from our headquarters in North Bend.
We currently guide on four continents, 8 countries, employ 10 guides, and hold permits in North Cascades and Mount Rainier National Park, Snoqualmie Pass, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Mount Baker Wilderness, parts of Mount Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest, the Cle Elum Ranger District, the Summit at Snoqualmie, several Washington State Parks and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. We also have permits to guide in many of the British Columbia Provincial Parks.
Much of our guiding work is spent in the North Cascades and it is safe to say this mountain range is the most diverse, high alpine mountain wilderness in the lower 48 states. We feel fortunate to be able to call the North Cascades our backyard.
Because several of our guides are IFMGA certified we have access to guiding in the Alps, Canada and many of the other IFMGA member countries.
All of our guides are AMGA certified in the discipline in which they are guiding or are actively pursuing certification. Several of our guides are involved in the instructor and examiner team of the AMGA or AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education). This assures that our own guide’s training and our instructional program curriculums remain at the current standard.
If one of our scheduled programs does not exactly fit your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a private arrangement. It makes up a large portion of our business and we love doing it.
Being awarded the 2016AMGA Lifertime Achievement Mountain Guiding Award was certainly an honor and a memory I will cherish.
Product development consulting work
The above-mentioned elements have led to product consulting work for K2 Sports and Outdoor Research and I am proud to say that some of the design ideas have been used to build successful products such as the K2 Shuksan, the K2 rescue shovel and the OR Trailbreaker Pant. More importantly it gives us a glimpse into what will come on the market in the next couple years and this of course influences our buying decisions for the retail store.
The books we’ve written
In 2000 I published my first guidebook about ski tours and ski descents around Snoqualmie Pass. This book was later followed up by an instructional book published by the Mountaineers
that was co-authored by Pro Guiding Service guide, Marge Wheeler, Scott Schell and myself. In 2012 Pro Guiding Service was commissioned by Mountaineers Publishing to write a guidebook featuring the top 75 ski tours and ski traverses in Washington state, scheduled for publication in the fall of 2013. SHOP our books.
The real reason for my route pioneering efforts over the last 2 decades has been that having someone write about a new route or ski descent was a lot cheaper than advertising for the business in a climbing or skiing magazine. Some of the routes that have come from this is the now classic ski traverse, “The Forbidden Tour”, the “Snoqualmie High Route”, first descents of the Mount Buckner, Spider Mountain and Mount Torment North Faces, alpine traverses of Bonanza and Formidable Peak and more. As of late some of our young guides; Forest McBrian, Trevor Kostanich and Aaron Mainer, have also completed some high caliber traverses of the Picket Range, the North Central Cascades and a new descent of the iconic Liberty Ridge on Mount Rainier.
None of what we have accomplished would have been possible without my wife and partner Gina. As any small business owner knows, there is an endless litany of things to do that nobody ever thought about when they open up for business.
In all my years working in this industry, I have learned it is all about the people who work for you as much as it is about the products you are selling.
The employees of Pro Guiding Service and Pro Ski and Mountain Service range from IFMGA guides who work in the examiner pool, create course curriculums for AIARE, put up new routes, write guide books themselves and talented retail employees who build their own skis, understand retail and generally love being involved in the outdoor industry. They all have one thing in common. They all love the mountains in a very authentic way and they are what keep this business driving forward.