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Who We Are

We have been the voice for all aspects of mountain guiding and instruction in Canada for over half a century. We set the professional standards for mountain guides, alpine guides, ski guides, rock guides, climbing instructors, hiking guides and via ferrata guides. We were the first guides outside of Europe to be recognized by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations.

Our members are recognized, and sought out as professionals in all aspects of protecting the public interest, and safety. This includes mountain travel, instructional work, commercial safety work, mountain rescue, and backcountry risk management.

The diversity of our membership and certification streams makes us adaptable to the ever changing requirements of guiding in this country.

Sylvia Forest, President

Explore Our Association

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Mission

  • Protect the public interest by advocating the highest standards of risk management for hiking guiding, 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
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Overview

  • 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.
  • We operate an internationally recognized training and assessment program. Training is extensive and the examination is both rigorous and fair.
  • We are a not-for-profit society incorporated in Alberta, led by a volunteer Board of Directors and managed by a small administrative support team.
  • We are a member of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA).
  • We have close operational affiliations with the Canadian Avalanche Association, Avalanche Canada, the Backcountry Lodges of BC Association, Heli-Cat Canada, Rando-Québec, the Alpine Club of Canada as well as all the National and Provincial Park managers in Western Canada.

History

Guides have played a major role in Canada's rich and colourful mountaineering history

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.

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Composite photo by Bruno Engler

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Conrad Kain, Mt Robson 1913

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 1350 members and is growing at 5-10% per year. Canadian guides can be found working in various risk management capacities in many regions 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 an incorporated not-for-profit society with an elected, volunteer Board. The association and its activities are funded solely through membership dues, partnership revenue and donations.

Formation

Walter Perren, Alpine Specialist for Parks Canada, conducted early guide exams but because of constraints on his time he suggested the formation of a guides association.

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Walter Perren coaches 1950's Park Warden Ollie Hermanrude

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, played a role for a time in the testing and training 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.

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IFMGA

 

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.

In 1972, the ACMG became the first member nation outside of Europe to be permitted to join the IFMGA.

Overview:

As a federation of mountain guiding associations from all over the world, the IFMGA establishes the baseline qualifications that must be met by the Mountain Guides of its member nations.

Founded in 1965 by guides from Austria, France, Switzerland and Italy, the IFMGA represents thousands of Mountain Guides from more than 20 countries in Europe, Asia, the Americas and Oceania.

Aims of the association:

  • Regulation of the mountain guide profession on a global scale
  • Representing the interests of the mountain guiding profession to government agencies
  • Support of a standard law and regulation for the mountain guide profession
  • Determination of mandatory international training standards
  • Reciprocal acceptance of the qualification
  • Support of free professional activity of the mountain guides
  • Support of national associations, especially the one under construction
  • Providing services and assistance for mountain guides

Featured Partner

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

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