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Alpine Guide
AG Flow Chart
The Alpine Guide Certification

  • This program is designed to develop the guiding and instructional skills needed to work in alpine rock, snow, and ice terrain, in both summer and winter.
  • Alpine Guides can be seen guiding frozen waterfalls, climbing alpine ice faces, and leading expeditionary trips throughout the great mountain ranges of Canada and the world.
  • To enter the program you must complete the Apprentice Rock Guide Program and meet all prerequisites for the Alpine Guide program.
  • Although this is a demanding program it opens up tremendous opportunities for the guide.
  • The Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) professional Level I course is required for entry into the certificate program.




Requirements for Entry
  • Apprentice Rock Guide Program - must have been successfully completed.
  • Experience - you must show that you are capable of guiding clients, demonstrating smooth, confident, efficient movement while climbing, protecting, anchoring, and belaying.
    • On alpine routes involving glaciers, snow, ice, rock, and mixed terrain at 5.10b/c wearing rock shoes and 5.8 in mountain boots
    • On Grade 4 Waterfall Ice
  • Personal Climbing Standard - you must demonstrate a personal climbing standard of 5.11 in rock shoes, 5.8 in mountain boots, and Waterfall Ice Grade V.
  • Advanced First Aid - an Advanced Wilderness First Aid course with a minimum 80 hours is required. Courses from this partial list of providers have proven adequate in the past. Contact the ACMG if you are uncertain about other programs.
  • Avalanche Course- the CAA level 1 plus experience, is a minimum prerequisite for the training level of the Apprentice Alpine Guide Program. Experience shows those candidates who enter with the CAA Level 2 have an easier time with the decision making and hazard evaluation tasks.

The above is an absolute minimum. To demonstrate these skills in an exam setting requires a great deal of confidence, ability and fitness. Most candidates enter the program with a much higher personal standard than that at which they will be examined.

See Dates and Fees

Guide Training Alpine

Training - is divided into two sections (both are required)

  • (Part A) Ice: Takes place in the winter and emphasizes waterfall ice climbing skills
  • (Part B) Alpinism: Takes place in the summer months and emphasizes alpine climbing in the big mountains on rock, snow, ice and glaciated terrain.

Goal: To instruct participants in the application of guiding and instructional techniques in alpine and waterfall ice terrain. To introduces the participants to client care and safety. To screen candidate’s ice, rock and snow climbing skills and to provide recommendations for further participation in ACMG programs.

Format: The courses are designed to help prepare and to introduce some of the recommended methods common to alpine and waterfall ice guiding and instruction through indoor and outdoor training sessions and through practical application with demonstration and coaching. Participants will receive counselling, feedback and recommendations to assist with the process of becoming a guide. Self-directed learning, and practical application of guide skills on the participant's own time is required prior to the exams.

Field Session Examples:
Ice: Movement skills, teaching ice climbing schools, winter hazards, multi-pitch guiding and descents, steep ice technique, protection and anchor building
Alpinism: Navigation, snow and ice anchors, belays on snow and ice, short roping, multi-pitch ice climbing, glacier travel, crevasse rescue, client care, alpine hazard evaluation.

Lecture Session Examples (both): Compass and map orientation, equipment preparation, guide meeting format, use of options, planning a guided week, hazard management.

Evaluation Areas: - Screening of movement skills on alpine snow, rock and ice - Screening on waterfall ice - Knowledge of systems: belays, protection, crevasse rescue - Recreational leadership, hazard evaluation skills.

Location and Length:

  • (Part A) Ice: 5 days, training usually takes place in January in the Rocky Mountains centred around Canmore.
  • (Part B) Alpinism: 7 days, training usually takes place in July. Location varies but centres around accessible glaciated alpine terrain; past examples include Bugaboos, Columbia Icefields, Lake Louise and Mt Joffre.

See Dates and Fees

Apprentice Alpine Guide Exam

Goal: To train, examine and certify candidates to work with supervision in alpine climbing terrain; and to provide leadership and direction to candidates working toward the Alpine Guide Certificate.

Format: This is a 2 week exam which includes learning from instruction, coaching and debriefing. The exam continues the process of the apprenticeship started in the training course. The focus is on principle based learning giving the candidates the strategies for problem solving through coaching and practical application in simulated guide/client scenarios. Participants are marked in categories indicating their decisions, terrain choices, and technical skills demonstrated.

Expectations: Participants are expected to arrive prepared and able to demonstrate guide skills, and be examined on information contained in the ACMG manual "Technical Handbook for Professional Mountain Guides", subjects taught on Guide Training Rock, the Apprentice Rock Guide, and the CAA Level 1 Avalanche courses. The guiding standard requires movement up to 5.10 in rock shoes; 5.8 in mountain boots, alpine ice to 70 degrees and water ice to Grade 4 with confident and efficient movement.

Special Exam Areas: Participants should be prepared to be tested in the following - Crevasse Rescue, Rock Rescue, Navigation, Shortroping, Record Keeping, Teaching.

Location and Length: These are often mobile courses and will visit several alpine locations in B.C. and Alberta over a 2 week period starting mid August. See Dates and Fees

Alpine Guide Exam

Goal: To certify guides to work without supervision in an alpine climbing environment, and to continue the aspirant guide's learning process in applying techniques in a wide variety of conditions.

Format: A multi- day exam often base camped for several days in a popular mountain guiding area. Classic guiding routes are completed as part of the daily task. Candidates play the role of guide, making the appropriate decisions regarding objectives, terrain choices and options, and client management. The candidate is given enough information to make his or her decisions and is expected to carry out options should the given objective be out of condition or inappropriate.

Candidates should expect to guide a variety of routes with different types of climbing including technical rock, snow and ice faces, mixed routes, some short aid sections, and lengthy moderate ridge routes. The successful candidate demonstrates safe, efficient guiding that comes as close to meeting trip objectives as conditions allow.

Expectations: Come prepared and able to demonstrate and be examined on information contained in the ACMG manual "Technical Handbook for Professional Mountain Guides" and taught on the Guide Training Rock, Guide Training Alpine, Apprentice Rock Guide, Apprentice Alpine Guide, and the CAA Level 2 Avalanche courses. The guiding standard requires movement up to 5.10 in rock shoes, 5.8 in mountain boots, alpine ice to 70 degrees, and waterfall ice to Grade 4.

Special Exam Areas: In addition there may be exams in the following topics: Crevasse Rescue, Rock Rescue, Navigation, Shortroping, Record Keeping, Teaching Session.

Location and Length: These are often mobile courses and will visit several alpine locations in B.C. and Alberta over a 9 day period toward the end of August.
See Dates and Fees.

For more information on TRU/ACMG courses contact:

Canadian Mountain & Ski Guide Program
Thompson Rivers University
900 McGill Road
Kamloops, BC V2C 5N3