Welcome to the website of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. As President, I am proud to lead an association that is dedicated to protecting the public interest in mountain travel and climbing instruction.
As a group, the ACMG presents a strong voice for high standards of alpine risk management and the professionalism of mountain guiding in Canada. It is an organization grounded in powerful tradition, yet agile enough to remain current in an ever-changing arena.
As individuals, our members are highly talented, dedicated professionals who are committed to providing safe and exciting mountain adventures as well as indoor and outdoor climbing instruction to all members of the public. Blending physical skill and toughness with excellent judgement and compassion, our members are highly regarded throughout the world as among the best in their respective disciplines.
Please feel free to explore who we are and what we represent through the gateway of this website, or contact us directly.
- Protect the public interest by advocating the highest standards of risk management for mountain guiding and climbing instruction.
- Represent our members in dealings with official bodies, both public and private.
- Advance the guiding/climbing instructing profession by advocating for industry best practices.
- Establish and maintain a high standard of professional competence and ethics for our members within Canada.
- Act as the accountable body for the guiding/climbing instructor profession by maintaining an objective conduct review process.
- Act as a public relations body to promote the sport of mountaineering in a safe and educational manner.
- Strengthen cooperation and promote cordial relations between its members.
Who we are:
- The ACMG is a professional association of trained and certified guides and instructors that is dedicated to protecting the public interest in mountain travel and climbing instruction.
- We set technical standards for mountain guiding and climbing instructor certification as well as admission standards for ACMG membership.
- In partnership, the ACMG and Thompson Rivers University operate an internationally recognized training and certification program.
- We are a non-profit organization led by a volunteer executive, with assistance from a small administrative team.
- We are a member of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA).
- We have close operational affiliations with the Canadian Avalanche Association, the Wilderness Tourism Association, HeliCat Canada, the Backcountry Lodges of British Columbia Association and the Alpine Club of Canada.
- Personal membership is open exclusively to trained and certified professional guides and instructors.
- Organizations that have a connection with some aspect of commercial mountain guiding and instruction are eligible to apply for Associate Membership.
- The IFMGA is an international body with member countries around the world.
- It sets world-wide standards for guide training and certification, technical proficiency, and client care.
ACMG members in good standing who hold a Mountain Guide certificate are recognized by the IFMGA and are entitled to reciprocal guiding rights in all IFMGA member countries.
See IFMGA Tab for more info ^
Conrad Kain after guiding
the first ascent of Mt Robson
In 1896 the first professional mountain guide worked in Canada. The first of the renowned "Swiss Guides" came to the Canadian Rockies in 1897. By 1899 the Canadian Pacific Railway decided that guides were essential for the safety and well-being of their guests and began the tradition of importing European guides to take guests into the Canadian mountains. These professional guides played a role in first ascents of many major peaks including Mt Sir Donald, Mt Sir Sanford, Mt Robson, Mt Louis, and Bugaboo Spire to name a few.
The Association of Canadian Mountain Guides was formed in 1963 with the encouragement of Parks Canada. By 1966, a program for training and certifying guides was in place. In 1972, the ACMG became the first non European member of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA), the international body that sets professional standards for mountain guides worldwide.
The ACMG now has over 700 members and Canadian guides can be found working around the world. We are perhaps best known for having developed helicopter skiing and setting the acknowledged standard for safety and client care in ski guiding.
The ACMG is a registered non-profit society with an elected, volunteer executive. The association and its activities are funded solely by membership dues and donations.
Charter members of
the ACMG in 1963:
(in alphabetical order)
The association suggested by Walter Perren became reality on May 23, 1963 when the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides was registered in the Province of Alberta. The founding members were Hans Gmoser, Eric Lomas, Peter Fuhrmann, Brian Greenwood, Willi Pfisterer, Dick Lofthouse, Leo Grillmair, and Heinz Kahl. Guides holding a Parks Canada license prior to 1963 were automatically eligible for membership in the new association.
Hans Gmoser chaired the first standards committee and developed the initial course curriculum. Brian Greenwood ran the inaugural ACMG guide’s course in 1966 with four candidates attending. The Alpine Club of Canada sent an observer to the training course and, as a parent association of the ACMG, the club continues to play a role in the training and testing of guides.
Early on it became obvious that many candidates seriously underestimated requirements for obtaining a guide certification. High failure rates were common along with accusations of the ACMG being a closed shop and complaints of unrealistically high standards. A heated debate regarding the applicability of ACMG standards to mountain guiding in Canada ensued. Besides the “classic” guiding along old European lines, nordic skiing, pure rock-climbing, waterfall ice-climbing, and helicopter skiing were becoming prominent disciplines that needed to be addressed within the context of mountain guiding as a whole.
As a result of this debate, a more rigorous course with a new format was developed in 1968 when Apprentice guide courses and apprenticeship requirements were added. Also in 1968, the first Code of Ethics was developed. While these changes were underway, the Association was striving to become recognized as an official training body. Negotiations with Parks Canada began to gain exclusive rights for issuing guide certifications. The ACMG became registered in British Columbia at this time.
The International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA) is also known as the Union internationale des associations de guide de montagne (UIAGM) and Internationale Vereinigung der Bergführerverbände (IVBV) in Europe.
The ACMG has been a member of the IFMGA since 1972.
Origin: Representatives from the mountain guide associations of Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria met in Zermatt, Switzerland in 1965 to form an International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations. The federation enacted its first by-laws in 1966.
Purpose of the federation: To strengthen relations between the guiding associations of member countries by:
- Adoption of mountain guiding standards.
- Promoting, when appropriate, uniform training standards.
- Allowing mountain guides to practice their profession abroad through international recognition and the issuing of international identity cards.
- Appointing, if requested, an advisory board to mediate disputes between members or members and third parties.
- Studying general and economic problems that affect the profession of mountain guiding.
- Furthering closer camaraderie and the exchange of ideas among mountain guides of member countries.
Access to Canada for IFMGA Guides
The ACMG advises all IFMGA guides to obtain legal commercial access to Canadian mountains. Plan ahead and speak with us well before you arrive in Canada with your guests. The FlashPaper document noted here outlines how we can assist you with permits, liability insurance, information, and advice.
IFMGA Guides Access