Just a thought…….I think there are a number of people who have had some success in the mountains as part of a guided trip or guided climb. It appears that this woman had a few successful experiences as part of such a trip. My point is that even though people have done a significant climb or two as a guided client it does not mean they have the "intellectual" experience to make safe and sound decisions regarding weather, potential avalanche slopes, etc. As a guided client all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and leave all the decisions as to whether to turn back or when to continue up to the guide. Even then much success is a roll of the dice.
This is a very valid concern Steve.
I find that some of the best guides/mentors consider themselves teachers as well. Early in their trip they try to determine if the client is there for experiential/vacation type experience, or do their long-term plans include becoming self sufficient climbers. If the latter is true more instructing occurs. If it's the former it may just be a day of leading the client up the classic climbs without much instructing going on.
For those who wish to develop self sufficiency recommendations for a Wilderness First Aid course, avalanche course, self-rescue skills, etc. all come at the end of typical quality 3 Day Introduction to Mountaineering Course. Suggestions for reading, joining climbing clubs, finding partners on forums like here, all can be made.
As guides, instructors, and mentors we owe it to those who trust us to teach them to set them up for success after they leave a course.
One thing all climbers can do is change the way we talk about success on the mountain. How we frame our day starts in the morning. A typical introduction given around the raised relief map at Pinkham;
"For our Mount Washington attempt
we will head up the Lion's Head Winter Route here. Our first goal is reaching tree-line here. If conditions permit we will make a push to the Lion's Head Summit here. This can be a challenging goal that may require full goggles/facemask. If
we make it there we will try to cross the Alpine Gardens and get some shelter near the summit cone. Our next objective is Split Rock. Then the summit, which in essence is half-way. We still need to make it back down. Conditions look quite typical for Mount Washington, should be a fun day up there."
The tone is set for a trip where success is not based on reaching the summit, but meeting 1 or more goals and having a good experience.
On a related note a well intentioned but loaded question to ask a descending party is;
"Did you make it to the top?"
I would highly suggest;
"How high did you get?"