Program Overview
Mountain Guide
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Additional Info
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Ski Guide
The Ski Guide Certificate

  • This program is designed to develop the guiding and instructional skills needed to work in a backcountry ski and snowboard environment.
  • Ski Guides work in heliskiing, snowcat skiing, and in the many backcountry ski touring lodges in Canada.
  • ACMG Ski Guides also participate in hut to hut or tent based glacier traverses and ski mountaineering trips where ascents of non-technical peaks may be climbed as part of a ski trip.
  • The Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) professional Level I course is required for entry into the certificate program.
  • See Ski Standard video





Requirements For Entry
  • Personal Skiing Standard - you must demonstrate smoothly linked turns in all terrain, appropriate adjustment of style and technique to snow conditions, and stable, smooth, turns at all times in ungroomed, backcountry snow. It is strongly recommended that candidates complete a Level 2 ski instructor course from the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance before applying. See Ski Standard video
  • Experience - candidates are chosen from those applicants who can demonstrate that they have spent at least three years developing the hazard evaluation skills, leadership skills, and are comfortable in a winter environment. These applicants have communication skills, preferably teaching skills, and are motivated to accept the responsibility of being a professional ski guide.
  • Avalanche Course - the CAA Avalanche Operations Level 1 plus experience, is a minimum prerequisite for the training level of the Apprentice Ski Guide Program. Experience shows those candidates who enter with the CAA Avalanche Operations Level 2 have an easier time with the decision making and hazard evaluation tasks.
  • Avalanche Search and Rescue Advanced Skills (AvSAR Advanced Skills) - theory certificate (Canadian Avalanche Association)
  • 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.
  • Expectation - on the courses, you must be capable of guiding clients on skis showing efficient and confident movement while linking appropriate turns in variable backcountry snow. You must show that you are capable of guiding clients in alpine ski mountaineering terrain including glaciers, snow and ice, and simple short-roping terrain.

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 the minimum required.

Guide Training Ski

Training is divided into three sections

  • (Part A) Alpine Skills: Introduces rope applications and rope rescue techniques common to the ski guiding industry as well as common alpine travel techniques such as roped glacier travel, short roping, and cramponing. Note: This course is optional for students in the Alpine Guide Program.
  • (Part B) Mechanized: Introduces operational standards and ski guiding techniques common to HeliCat Canada members. These include job responsibilities and teamwork, operational hazard and terrain management, introducing clients to the mountain setting, downhill guiding techniques, backcountry ski technique, cliff rescue, and lost skier search. Specific skills such as companion avalanche rescue, snowpack observation, and ski skills are screened to ensure candidates are at the pre-requisite standard..
  • (Part C) Touring: This section reviews guides applications learned on the previous two courses and introduces guiding techniques common to ski touring and ski mountaineering operations; including uphill track setting, risk management, basic short roping, glacier travel, client care, pacing, and navigation.

Goal: To introduce the technical systems used by professional guides and to introduce the basic components of ski guiding. A secondary goal is to screen candidates to ensure that they meet the prerequisites as detailed in their resume, and to determine whether they have the skills to continue in the Ski Guide Program. A third goal is to assist the candidate with their plans with regards to the overall ACMG certification program.

Format: During the three parts of Guide Training Ski, candidates learn through demonstration, instruction and coaching. Candidates learn and apply guiding skills and techniques in practical situations under the guidance of an expert instructional team. There are daily field sessions, night sessions, and group interactive learning.

Syllabus Examples: Backcountry ski techniques, Wilderness ski teaching methodology, Mechanized downhill guiding techniques, Guides information exchange, CAA and international standards, Weather and snowpack observations, Navigation, Backcountry avalanche response, Crevasse rescue, Client care and catering in a winter camping environment, Glacier travel, Rope handling, Mountaineering as part of the ski touring objective.

Evaluation Areas: General recreational skills are screened as indicated in resume; Demonstration of technical ski skills on and off- piste, CAA standard snow and weather observation skills, Avalanche Response and Transceiver Search, Written Exam

Location and Length: Guide Training Ski

  • (Part A) Alpine Skills: The 5 day Alpine section is conducted in an appropriate location.
  • (Part B) Mechanized: The 7 day Mechanized section is conducted out of a commercial mechanized ski operation usually in the BC interior in December.
  • (Part C) Touring: The 7 day Touring section would be conducted out of locations such as Whistler, Rogers Pass, Field Lake Louise etc. in February.

See Dates and Fees

Apprentice Ski Guide Exam

Goal: To give the candidate the opportunity to apply guide techniques in mountainous ski terrain while being coached, supervised, and assessed by an experienced ACMG guide. The technical skills and judgement and decision making skills are assessed to the standard of the ACMG Apprentice Ski Guide.

Format: The course is a 9 day exam. It usually takes place in remote glaciated terrain based out of tents or huts. Candidates will get exposure to guiding in all types of terrain and will undertake a number of ski mountaineering objectives. The field trips will involve a variety of, simulated, guided ski tours and ski mountaineering trips.

Expectations: Each candidate must be prepared to "guide". This means he will have applied the time between the training and the exam in a preparatory and constructive manner appropriate for a guide planning a trip with clients. Arrive with a researched knowledge of the area, a plan of day and overnight tours and knowledge of current weather and snow conditions.

Special Exam Areas: In addition to day-to-day guiding there may be exams in the following topics - Crevasse Rescue, Transceiver Search, Navigation, Ski Skills, Record Keeping, Teaching Session, CAA Standards, history of the mountain region.

Location and Length: 9 days, mid March to mid April. Location varies but can take place in the Rockies, Coast or Interior Ranges. Past examples: Pemberton, Pantheon range, Rogers Pass
See Dates and Fees

Ski Guide Exam

Goal: To certify guides to work as unsupervised backcountry ski guides. Successful candidates are capable of being trained as lead guides in mechanized and ski touring/mountaineering operations.

Format: This is a ski mountaineering exam based in a lodge or camp in remote glaciated terrain. This scenario gives the ACMG and the candidate the best opportunity to demonstrate and practice the decision making and judgement skills that challenge the independent ski guide. The skills tested are also generic guiding standards that are common to "lead guides" in any mechanized ski business. Once you have passed this course the skills you have displayed are applicable to a variety of occupations including cat skiing, helicopter skiing, and ski touring. The testing is physically and mentally difficult.

Expectations: Candidates are expected to arrive with a working knowledge of the information covered in the Guide Training Ski course, Apprentice Ski Guide exam, CAA Level 2 course and the ACMG manual "Technical Handbook for Professional Mountain Guides." The participants are expected to arrive in good health and capable of completing a week of strenuous touring and ski mountaineering.

Special Exam Areas: There may be exams in the following areas: Improvised Rescue (this skill, like transceiver search, is a prerequisite for mountain travel). Candidates may be asked to demonstrate a "rescue response" including radio call out, first aid, and team management. Candidates must have a reasonable proficiency in this category to complete the exam.

Location and Length: An 8 day course run mid April. Location varies but is usually helicopter access in glaciated terrain. Examples: Nirvana Pass, Athelny Pass (coast ranges); Azure Pass (Cariboo Range), Moberly Pass (Selkirks), Albert Icefields (Selkirks), Numtijah Lodge, Mummery/Freshfield Glaciers (Rockies).
See Dates and Fees

pointer For more information on ACMG courses contact:

ACMG Training and Assessment Program
Box 8245
Canmore, AB Canada T1W 2T9

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