An International Mountain Guide holds the IFMGA or UIAGM award. This is the highest qualification in the world for guiding people in the mountains and relates to mountaineering, climbing & skiing activities. In some European alpine countries it is a legal requirement to hold this award to lead people in high mountain or climbing terrain.
Members of the IFMGA have qualified through rigorous training & assessment programmes run over several years by 20 different countries around the world including the UK, USA, New Zealand, Canada and the original alpine nations of Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria.
Even before being allowed to start this exacting training & assessment process candidates must amass a large amount of personal rock & ice climbing, mountaineering & ski experience and climb various big alpine faces often including routes like the North Face of the Eiger.
During the training process ‘Aspirant’ Guides are required to work alongside an experienced qualified Guide to develop some ‘on the job’ experience. This is a very valuable practical part of the Guides training and represents part of the hundreds of days climbing & skiing and training to become proficient enough to wear the famous IFMGA badge.
Guides will often know one area particularly well but have the skills to work in many different mountain areas around the world and many Guides have a remarkably extensive knowledge of different mountain areas as well as different styles of mountaineering & skiing. Guides are bound by the IFMGA charter and specialise in looking after people in high mountain terrain and enhancing their experiences, providing guidance, training and good company on all journeys in to the mountains.