What does a Mountain Guide do?

A mountain guide is a professional mountaineer who specializes in leading groups of people on guided mountain tours. Most mountain guides go through a rigorous certification process that takes several years to complete and covers a wide range of skills. A successful mountain guide can provide exciting tours and adventures in beautiful mountain settings while maintaining a safe environment.

Mountain guide training is available through a number of different certification organizations. There are a variety of mountain guide training courses available, but the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations offers the most widely recognized certification (IFMGA). IFMGA offers several types of certification options and provides a standardized form of mountain guide training that is used various certification groups around the world.

The majority of organizations have a multi-stage certification process. Aspiring guides must first complete courses that cover the necessary skills, after which they must pass a skill set test. To obtain certification, you may need to complete several sets of training and testing. For different mountaineering styles, IFMGA-certified organizations offer three different types of certification: alpine, skiing, and rock.

A professional mountain guide’s skill set is extensive. Orienteering, medical training, and emergency procedures are all basic skills. Furthermore, advanced rock climbing training is required to ensure that a guide can not only scale steep terrain but also assist others in doing so. Skiing, glacial climbing, and rescue techniques training and exams may be required, depending on the level of certification sought.

Some mountain guides receive additional training in the area where they intend to work. This allows them to gain a better understanding of a specific mountain area in order to better serve their clients. A guide can find new routes, determine contingency paths in case of an emergency, and gain a complete understanding of what the range has to offer travelers after spending a few months or even years learning the mountains.

A mountain guide can choose to operate his or her own tours or work with a tour group when working professionally. When working alone, a guide may need to be able to meet all of the needs of the guests, from food to hiking equipment. Working with a tour agency frees up a guide’s time to focus on leading the tour group while the agency takes care of the rest. Some people prefer to work for tour companies on a freelance basis in order to free up time for other professional pursuits or mountaineering.