Mountain guide

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Austrian mountain guides Anselm Klotz (left) and Josef Frey (right), 19th century
Alice Manfield, a pioneering female mountain guide in Australia in the early 1900s wearing self-designed clothing

Mountain guides are specially trained and experienced professional mountaineers who are certified by national mountain guide associations which are affiliated to the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA). They are considered to be high-level experts in mountaineering, and are hired to instruct or lead individuals or small groups who require this advanced expertise. This professional class of guides arose in the middle of the 19th century when Alpine climbing became recognized as a sport.

Skills and knowledge[edit]

A mountain guide's skills include rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Supporting these are the theory and practice of snowcraft, weather appreciation and interpretation, navigation, risk assessment, avalanche hazards and first aid.

The title of Mountain Guide is (in most countries) reserved for individuals who have received full certification through their country's national mountain guides association of which the curriculum and training are approved by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA). Certification is earned through a rigorous examination process encompassing rock climbing, alpine climbing and ski mountaineering. Typically lasting between 3 and 7 years, mountain guide certification requires a high level of commitment, dedication and technical skill to achieve.

In addition to assuring safety, professional mountain guides frequently offer other desirable services to their clients. These services can significantly improve the alpine experience, especially when the client climber has limited time or equipment, lacks a qualified partner or is visiting an unfamiliar area. These additional mountain guide services may include:


Mountain guides are commonly organized in national and international associations. The world's oldest guides association is the Compagnie des guides de Chamonix, established in Chamonix in 1821, which banned women until the 1980s. It remains today the largest association with nearly 250 mountain guides. The biggest international organization is the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations located in Gstaad, Switzerland.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]