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What We Do

The ACMG seeks to balance a dual mandate - protecting the public interest while also providing services to its members. Though on the surface these may appear to be duelling priorities, our primary focus is ensuring that our members are the best trained and most professional guides and instructors anywhere. This is the best way to ensure that the primary mandate, protection of the public, is fulfilled.

Peter Tucker
Executive Director

Explore Our Association

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Public Accountability

As an organization that strives to emulate the best practices of self-regulating professions, the ACMG and its members have a clear responsibility towards the public that extends beyond risk management for clients. The ACMG ensures this responsibility is met in a number of ways, including:

  • Setting standards for admission to the professions of mountain guiding and climbing instruction
  • Setting standards for the practice of these professions
  • Ensuring members meet these standards through a quality assurance process
  • Holding members accountable to a Code of Conduct
  • Ensuring members upgrade their skills through regular continuing education programs
  • Ensuring members have access to liability insurance

Some areas of assistance are more visible than others, and include:

  • Providing assistance to individuals and groups in the backcountry, over and above commercial guiding services
  • Contributing winter snow pack observations to the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) and Parks Canada for their bulletins
  • Providing the public with timely professional observations on current conditions through the ACMG's Mountain Conditions Report
  • Reviewing and refining best practices and technical standards for mountain guiding and climbing instruction.

Assistance to Individuals or Groups in the Backcountry
ACMG members are competent guides and instructors, and experts in both first aid and rescue within their specific disciplines. There are many examples where ACMG guides and instructors have assisted members of the public who have found themselves in some sort of (often life-threatening) difficulty.

The type of assistance given is wide ranging. It includes actions such as providing navigation assistance to those needing directions, applying major and minor first aid, radioing for outside help or evacuation, running or assisting technical and avalanche rescues, and other actions that have reduced suffering and saved lives in the past. Additionally, many senior federal and provincial rescue specialists in the mountain parks are ACMG members. ACMG members who are guiding or instructing private individuals or groups will suspend all other activities to help out the public, as long as doing so does not jeopardize the safety of their clients or themselves. The ACMG believes so strongly in the importance of this aspect of public service that it is written into our Code of Conduct.

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Winter Snow Pack Observations
The Canadian Avalanche Centre, Parks Canada, Kananaskis Country, Whistler-Blackcomb and the North Shore Avalanche Advisory Group publish on-line bulletins during the winter season that provide regional backcountry skiing conditions and avalanche hazard assessments for Alberta and British Columbia mountain areas. They are the key tools used by professional and amateur recreationists to determine the relative safety of winter backcountry trips.

These organizations gather information from a variety of sources, including commercial helicopter and snow cat skiing operations, which typically employ ACMG-certified Ski and Mountain Guides. These guides are fully trained in avalanche hazard evaluation. Because they are in the field almost daily, they are able to observe and report on important weather events that lead to significant changes in snow pack stability. In addition, many of the avalanche forecasters employed by the CAC and Parks Canada are also ACMG-certified. In these ways, the skills of ACMG members feed directly into helping the public make informed and safer decisions on winter backcountry travel.

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Mountain Conditions Report
While avalanche bulletins provided by other organizations provide excellent information on mountain snow pack stability and skiing conditions in the winter, members of the public have access to the ACMG Mountain Conditions Report (MCR) all year long. This report covers all aspects of specific trips including access, approach, route, and weather conditions.

Where the CAC bulletin is regional and specific to winter backcountry travel, the MCR is local and covers climbing, hiking and skiing activities. The MCR has an editorial panel that provides feedback to ACMG members who post their observations, ensuring that they remain within prescribed guidelines. There is also a group of members who supply a weekly high season summary. Members of the public may access the information by visiting Mtn Conditions, or by subscribing to the service and receiving reports by e-mail.

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Best Practices
Many commonly used techniques in mountain travel and climbing instruction have their origins in ACMG training. The ACMG regularly incorporates new or refined techniques from several sources, including the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA), technical courses and reports from research and testing.

This information is, in turn, passed along to the climbing and skiing recreational community through programs, courses, ACMG manuals (which are available to the public), and sharing from guide/instructor to clients and/or friends. In this way, the ACMG contributes directly and indirectly to increased safety for many recreationists.

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Contact Us

The ACMG takes its directive to assist the public very seriously. If you can think of ways in which this service can be enhanced, please contact the Executive Director at ed@acmg.ca.

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ACMG Quality Assurance Philosophy

For the ACMG, quality assurance has both proactive and reactive components. On the proactive side, members are provided with clear policies and guidelines for maintaining skills and currency. Random audits are performed each year to ensure that professional practice and professional development are where they need to be. On the reactive side, we have policies and processes in place to manage members who may not live up to the high expectations of the public or the Association.

The ACMG Code of Conduct is one of the key governance documents of the association. It guides the behaviour of our members with the desired outcome that industry best practices are applied whenever possible. The complaints process is there to enable the ACMG to examine the quality of client experiences that may not live up to expected standards. It ensures that there is public accountability for each of our members and helps to minimize the possibility of future problems.

While the ACMG has the ability to apply sanctions to a member who has breached its code of conduct, or somehow acted in bad faith toward a client, the Association prefers to adopt an educational approach. This may take the form of a recommendation for more training, a change to a procedure or suggestions for alternate behaviour given similar circumstances. The basis for this lies in the belief that everyone stands to benefit more from learning better ways to deal with certain situations than from punishment. That said, you are certainly able to have your concern or complaint heard by the Conduct Review Committee. This panel has the authority to suspend or expel a member if the circumstances warrant such action.

VIEW Code of Conduct

Association of Canadian Mountain Guides

Code of Conduct

Members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, while: marketing or promoting themselves as ACMG members; offering professional services; fulfilling their professional duties; otherwise engaging in activities directly associated with the ACMG, shall:

  1. Hold paramount the safety of their clients and, in so doing, shall manage foreseeable risks to the fullest extent possible commensurate with their training and experience.
  2. Assist colleagues or members of the public who are in difficulty or distress in the outdoors so long as this can be accomplished without jeopardizing the safety of the member's client or their own safety.
  3. Perform professional services only in areas permitted by their level of certification and in accordance with the ACMG Scope of Practice.
  4. Conduct themselves so as to uphold the honour and reputation of the ACMG.
    For example:
    • Exercise due diligence such that the responsibilities of all parties to the professional relationship are clear, understood and complied with. Keep criticism constructive and refrain from speaking abusively or in a defamatory fashion about the Association or its members.
  5. Meet their obligations as an ACMG member as outlined in ACMG bylaws, policies, governing documents and Conduct Review Committee decisions.
  6. Continue their professional development throughout their careers by engaging regularly in professional practice and meeting the required educational standards as outlined in the ACMG Continuing Professional Development document.
  7. Represent themselves and their certification according to the ACMG Advertising and Representation standards.
  8. Carry valid land use permits, licenses or tenure agreements when providing professional services on public lands and ensure their liability insurance coverage meets the requirements of land managers and employers.
  9. Adhere to well known or reasonably discoverable local guiding practices and cultural protocols when conducting their professional business abroad.

What You Can Expect

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From Your Guide

ACMG guides are highly trained to provide experience-based decision making in the field to balance your trip’s adventure and its objective risk. In all situations, your safety is paramount. If your guide believes that the experience provided by an outing on a given trail, climb or ski route is not worth the risk, then a safer alternative will be chosen. This may include scrubbing the trip.

It is the expectation of the ACMG that your guide will ensure you are aware of possible risks inherent to your trip prior to departure. Depending on the circumstances, this may occur at the time you read and sign the compulsory liability waiver, or at some time previous to this.

The land agencies that offer access to individuals or companies for mountaineering activities have regulations around the use of the land in their jurisdiction. You may expect that your guide or his company will have all the requisite permits and insurance and that your guide will respect all area closures or other regulations specific to that area.

Decision making in the field is extremely complex. Your guide will assess factors such as weather, snowpack quality, avalanche hazard, rock fall, crevasse and serac danger, route or terrain selection, daylight, distance etc. and continuously weigh them against the capability and objectives of the group or individual client. As guides develop experience, this process happens at a more subconscious level but you can expect your guide to provide a clear rationale for any decision made, if asked to do so.

Despite all the best training and decision-making, accidents may still occur to someone being guided by an experienced professional. Should this happen, know that your guide is trained in wilderness first aid and rescue procedures. Expect him or her to take control of the situation, ensuring that injured people are looked after and that the risk to the rest of the group is minimized. Also expect him or her to assist in emergency situations that arise for other individuals or groups that you may come across on your trip, as long as this does not jeopardize the safety of you or your group.

 

From Your Climbing Instructor

ACMG climbing instructors are trained to manage risks associated with roped climbing on indoor and/or single pitch outdoor walls. In the gym, they will teach you safety and technique. Outdoors, they will focus on providing you with an awesome climbing and/or rappelling experience. All climbing instructors are trained in levels of first aid appropriate to their discipline.

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Filing a Formal Complaint

If, for some reason, you are unhappy with the behaviour or actions of your guide/instructor, you may file a formal complaint against him or her by sending an e-mail or letter to the ACMG Conduct Review Committee:

conduct@acmg.ca or

ACMG Conduct Review Committee
Box 8341
Canmore AB T1W 2V1

The ACMG takes all complaints against its members very seriously. You will receive confirmation of the receipt of your complaint within 48 hours. If you do not receive this confirmation, please contact the ACMG Executive Director at ed@acmg.ca.

  • First, a Preliminary Review Committee will investigate the matter and attempt to achieve resolution with the member who is being complained of. If this is unsuccessful, the Conduct Review Committee will convene a hearing where all parties will have an opportunity to be heard by an unbiased panel that includes non-ACMG members. During the process, all information discovered during the investigation and hearing is kept confidential, but a full disclosure summary is prepared after all hearings.

  • Complaints may not be filed anonymously. Anyone formally accused of a conduct breach has a right to know who is delivering the accusation. Anonymous complaints will be disregarded.

Education is further enhanced through full disclosure of the nature of the complaint and the resulting actions in the Arête - the ACMG's biannual journal - so that all ACMG members may learn from the event.

If you have questions or concerns about the process as outlined above, please contact the ACMG Executive Director at ed@acmg.ca

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ACMG Governance Documents

Understanding the codes and guidelines that inform and govern the ACMG provides insight into the true nature of our organization. These are living documents that are revised as often as our environment demands it.

  • Objects and Business of the Association
    These describe the objects of the Association - specifically, why the Association exists.

  • Bylaws
    These are the rules and regulations that govern the behaviour of the Association and its officers.

  • ACMG Code Of Conduct
    This is the overarching code that governs the behaviour of ACMG members and forms the basis on which all complaints are adjudicated.

  • Activity and Terrain Limitations for ACMG Certifications
    This document is a highly abbreviated version of the ACMG Scope of Practice that is tailored for members of the public. It outlines the appropriate terrain and activities that are permitted for ACMG members in relation to their certification levels.

  • Supervision
    This document is intended to help members of the public understand the professional requirements for the proper supervision of ACMG members who are not yet fully certified or are Top-Rope Climbing Instructors.

  • ACMG Scope of Practice (Complete document)
    This document outlines the qualifications, terrain limitations and supervision required for each ACMG certification. As members of a professional association, it is the responsibility of individual guides, instructors and employers to ensure that every effort is made to work within these guidelines.

    • ACMG Scope of Practice - Variance Policy
      Occasionally ACMG members or their employers may find themselves in a situation where working outside the scope of practice is difficult to avoid. The ACMG is cognizant of these situations and, if asked, will consider issuing a variance to the member or employer so that, in a defined situation, they may work outside of the scope of practice in question.
    • Application for Temporary Variance Request
      This is the Variance application in a fillable MS Word format. Let us know if you need it in a different format.

  • Professional Practice and Continuing Professional Development
    These are the expectations around the maintenance and growth of ACMG member skills and knowledge.

Featured Partner

Thank you to our partners for their excellent support and commitment to professional guiding in Canada.

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