View Full Version : What makes a professional Guide?

3rd July 2006, 07:37 AM
Out of curiosity, what makes a person a qualified guide or mountain climbing leader these days?

3rd July 2006, 09:32 AM
I think it depends on where you are and what your actually talking about

For example I found this desription on the net:

"The Carnet of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA or UIAGM, no difference) is the highest professional award attainable in mountaineering. It is recognised throughout the world, and in alpine countries such as France and Switzerland it is a legal requirement for anyone taking clients into the mountains on or above glacier level, whether climbing or skiing.

To achieve the IFMGA carnet takes tremendous dedication to mountaineering and a high level of skill in all aspects of the sport rock climbing, ice climbing, alpine climbing and Ski Touring. It also requires a portfolio of climbing experience which takes years to acquire."

3rd July 2006, 12:59 PM
I listed what was required to be British Mountain Guide (that doesn't just mean in the British mountains but anywhere) here:- http://www.trekinfo.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3438&page=2

To break it down a bit

at least 50 multi-pitch climbs led at El 5b (American grade 5.10b or Aussie 19) or above in a wide variety of areas in the UK technical leads at 5c (American 5.10c or Aussie 20) or above

This is a shot of an E1 5b rock climb http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=48024

a comprehensive list of at least 50 snow and ice climbs of Grade III (WI3+/4 or Alpine AD/D) and above, of which 20 must be at Grade 1V/V (WI4+/5 or Alpine D/TD - e.g. the SW ridge of Ama Dablam is Alpine grade TD with rock of HVS standard US 5.10a or 18 Aussie).

To give you an idea of what those grades and climbs are like:-

The pillar in the middle is Grade 5 Water ice - WI5+ and the gully on the left is WI4

This is the SE Face of Aretesonraju in Peru (6013m) and is 800m of 50-60 degree snow/ice and Alpine grade D (there are actually climbers on it but it is so huge you can't see them in this picture)

SE face of Artesonraju from another angle

This is Pyramide de Garcilaso (5885m) in the Peruvian Andes and the grade straight up the face is alpine TD

Over 70% of these should be in the Scottish mountains in a variety of areas
a general mountaineering history including British hillwalking, mountaineering and camping experience

Provide details of Alpine mountaineering experience over a minimum period of at least four years. Applicants must include the names of their climbing partners on all significant ascents. This experience should show the following:

a knowledge of several Alpine climbing areas, at least three of which should be European;
20 ascents of major summits

a variety of experience including rock, snow/ice and mixed (mentioning any winter ascents).
As a guideline, experience in the European Alps should include a minimum of 20 big routes, at least 10 of which should be Alpine tr's difficile standard or above. Of these 10 routes 5 should be at least 1000 metres in length and preferably mixed (i.e. classic North faces or similar)(Things like the North faces of the Eiger, Les Droites, Matterhorn, Grandes Jorasses - all major test pieces requiring up to 4 or 5 bivvies on the mountain and probable winter ascents).

The BMG (British Mountain Guide) qualification is ratified by the UIAGM (International Mountain Guides) and therfore is the equivalent to the International qualification. The NZ and US equivalents are also this rigorous and recognised internationally.

So to achieve a guiding qualification you need to be climbing all the time, be very dedicated, actually be pretty bloody good across all disciplines and be a pretty hard, strong and fit alpine climber to boot, with balls of steel and lots of experience in major ranges. On top of that you need to be a good leader and have your clients welfare foremost in your mind. There are some legendary British climbers who have done some very significant ascents who couldn't manage to pass the guides qualification because they were too selfish and failed on client care or because they couldn't ski. You nearly need to be superman to be ratified guide.

3rd July 2006, 01:25 PM
And that's the end of that - thanks for another very thorough explanation Escher.

3rd July 2006, 01:40 PM
It helps being at work with nothing really important to do! And being very, very bored. I'll get around to answering your question about ice tools soon. I don't want to get to it too soon, I have all this week to frtter away at work!

3rd July 2006, 01:53 PM
It helps being at work with nothing really important to do! And being very, very bored. I'll get around to answering your question about ice tools soon. I don't want to get to it too soon, I have all this week to frtter away at work!

Hahahah..thanks Escher..thats some mighty deep insight (much appreciated though) into the requirements of being a qualified guide/mountaineer these days.

Its something worth reading up on and clearly you already answered all our questions...years and years of dedicated work, responsibility and guts..something very few people have..