cgi icon Ski Guide

This program is designed to develop the guiding and instructional skills needed to work in a backcountry ski and snowboard environment. The ski guide certificate is an industry standard for backcountry guiding in Canada. The certificate has 4 components:



2019 Application Update

See the Guide Training Ski Application Package for a detailed overview of the application requirements.

The application process is highly competitive. Prospective students are encouraged to focus their efforts towards gaining practical experience. Personal experience in a decision-making role and applied industry experience are what best prepares students for their training courses and exams, and more importantly, for their guiding careers.

Prerequisites to the Guide Training Ski Program:

Personal Experience
Successful applicants must possess a minimum three years of personal backcountry skiing or snowboarding experience in a variety of snowpack regions in a leadership or co-leadership capacity.

Personal Movement Standard
Successful applicants must demonstrate smoothly linked turns in all terrain, appropriate adjustment of style and technique to snow conditions, and stable skiing or riding at all times. Achieving the personal movement standard requires focused effort and training. All applicants are required to submit a movement skills video with their application.

The Training and Assessment Program ski and snowboard movement standard is shown in this video.

Required certificates

  • Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) Operations Level 1
  • CAA Avalanche Search and Rescue (AvSAR) Advanced Skills - Note that the AvSAR Practical Skills Assessment will be a prerequisite for Guide Training Ski courses that take place in 2020-21. As such it is strongly recommended for 2019-20 applicants
  • 80 hr Advanced Wilderness First Aid - Courses from this partial list of providers have proven adequate in the past. Contact the ACMG if you are uncertain about other programs.

Payment and Cancellation Policy

Registration fees are due in full 45 days prior to the start of the course to confirm your attendance. Non-payment or partial payment of your fees at the deadline will result in forfeiture of your spot on the course. To receive a refund, the ACMG TAP office must receive notice of cancellation by e-mail a minimum of 45 days prior to the course start date.

The Training and Assessment Program does not accept any withdrawals or provide any student requested refunds after the payment deadline. This includes cancellations due to personal injury, illness, medical reasons, family emergency, etc. In the event the TAP office cancels the course, all fee payments will be returned in full.

Cancellation/interruption insurance

ACMG partner, Lifestyle Financial, offers Training and Assessment Program students course cancellation/interruption insurance coverage, to request a quote complete their online form here or contact Maria Delaney at The Training and Assessment Program reserves the right to cancel courses after the payment deadline, in these instances, students will be provided with a full refund.

First Aid Overview

The ACMG does not run these programs but rather relies on outside course providers.

  • For the Mountain Guide and Hiking Guide Programs an Advanced Wilderness First Aid course with a minimum of 80 hours is required. Although wilderness courses are preferred, Occupational First Aid Level 3 is also accepted.

  • The Climbing Instructor Programs require a Standard First Aid Course. These courses usually run over a two-day period (minimum 16 hrs), combining theory and practical sessions to provide the basis for dealing with traumatic and medical emergencies.

Advanced Wilderness First Aid

An Advanced Wilderness First Aid course with a minimum 80 hours is required. Courses from the following partial list of providers have proven adequate in the past. Contact the ACMG Training and Assessment Program office if you are uncertain about other programs.

  • Alberta Health and Safety Training Institute
    125 3510 29th Street NE Calgary AB T1Y7E5
    Phones 1.888.670.5406, 403-670-5406, fax 1-866-202-1822,
  • Canadian Institute of Safety Search and Rescue Advanced First Aid
    Box 6151, Cochrane AB TOL OW0 Phone 403-932-3689
  • Outdoor Emergency Care Program - National Ski Patrol
    NSP National Office 133 South Van Gordon Street, Suite 100 Lakewood, CO 80228
  • Pacific Alpine Institute
    102-4369 Main Street, Suite #997, Whistler, B.C. V0N 1B4 Phone 604 938-7846
  • Peak Emergency Response Training
    1717 Beach Grove Road South Delta, BC V4L 1P4
  • Remote Medical International
    3400 Harbor Ave SW. Suite 344 Seattle, WA 98116
    206.686.4878 Toll Free: 800.597.4911,
  • Rescue Dynamics
    5109 -17 A Ave. NW, Edmonton AB T6L 1K51
  • Rocky Mountain Adventure Medicine Inc.
    9 Manyhorses Close, Redwood Meadows, AB T3Z 1A1
    Phone/Fax 403-949-2632,
  • Sirius Wilderness Medicine
    2685 rue Rolland, suite 303, Ste-Adèle, QC J8B 1C9
    Phone 514.509.2112, Toll free 877.982.0066, Fax 514.509.2123
  • Slipstream Wilderness First Aid
    #403 110-174 Wilson Street, Victoria, BC, V9A 7N7
    1-800-760-3188 email:, web:
  • Wilderness Alert Safety Training & Products
    Box 95050 Vancouver BC V6P 6V5
    Phone 604-263-1432 or 1-800-298-9919 email:, web:
  • Wilderness Medical Associates, Canada
    106- 1100 Main St. W., Hamilton ON L8S 1B3
    Phone toll free 1-877-945-3633, 905-524-5531 web
  • Wilderness Medical Consultants
    Box 64 - 512-9th St South, Golden, BC V0A 1H0
    Toll free 1-888-344-4755, 250.344.4755 web



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.


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Guide Training Ski

Guide Training Skiing (19 days)There are three GTS courses; each course has a specific focus while building on skills introduced previously.

  • GTS-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.

  • GTS- 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..

    Note: Ski and riding skills are screened during GTS-Mechanized. Students who do not pass the screening may re-screen prior to GTS-Touring but not after.

  • GTS-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.


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.


Training is divided into three sections: mechanized, touring and alpine skills. 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,

Location and length

  • GTS-Alpine Skills: The five-day Alpine section is conducted in an appropriate location.

  • GTS-Mechanized: The seven-day Mechanized section is conducted out of a commercial mechanized ski operation usually in the BC interior in December.

  • GTS-Touring: The seven-day Touring section would be conducted out of locations such as Whistler, Rogers Pass, Field, Lake Louise, etc. in February.

On all training courses, there is plenty of instruction, modeling and coaching as well as opportunities to ask questions on the application of guiding techniques.


cgi icon Apprentice Ski Guide Exam


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.


The course is a nine-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.


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

Nine 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.


cgi icon Ski Guide Exam


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.


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.


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 nine-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).


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How to Apply

The application package below outlines what is required to be submitted when applying to each training course or exam.

Application Package

Guide Training Ski

Apprentice Ski Guide Exam (Upon completion of training courses)

Ski Guide Exam (After 1-3 years of apprenticeship)


  1. Please read through in detail and ensure that your application includes all of the required elements.
  2. Complete the online registration form: TAP Application Form
  3. We recommend using the Chrome browser when completing your online application, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer are not well supported by our student information system software.

By applying to the training course in each stream you are automatically registered for the apprentice exam in that stream (pending a recommendation from the training course instructors). You do not need to submit a separate application unless you completed the training courses in a different year or have already attempted the exam and are applying to take it again.

Dates and Fees

NOTE: Schedule and costs may vary due to conditions and enrolment. As a result dates and fees may change without notice. Full payment is required 45 days prior to the course start. Remain flexible in your dates as the ACMG office reserves the right of candidate placement.

Course Location Date Fees App Deadline
Guide Training Ski - Alpine Skills Banff, AB Sept 16-20, 2019 $1150 + GST June 1, 2019
Guide Training Ski - Alpine Skills Banff, AB Sept 23-27, 2019 $1150 + GST June 1, 2019
Guide Training Ski - Mechanized Revelstoke/CMH Adamants Nov 29 - Dec. 5, 2019 $3075 + GST June 1, 2019
Guide Training Ski - Touring 1 Whistler, BC Jan. 20-26, 2019 $2365 + GST June 1, 2019
Guide Training Ski - Touring 2 Whistler, BC Jan. 27 - Feb. 2, 2019 $2365 + GST June 1, 2019
2020 Dates
Ski Program Coached Training Days Golden, BC March 17-19, 2020 TBA January 6, 2019
Apprentice Ski Guide Exam 1 TBA March 23-31, 2020 TBA Oct. 1, 2019
Apprentice Ski Guide Exam 2 TBA March 31 - April 8, 2020 TBA Oct. 1, 2019
Apprentice Ski Guide Exam 3 TBA April 5-13, 2020 TBA Oct. 1, 2019
Ski Guide Exam 1 TBA April 10-18, 2020 TBA Oct. 1, 2019
Ski Guide Exam 2 TBA April 17-25, 2020 TBA Oct. 1, 2019
Ski Guide Exam 3 TBA April 24 - May 2, 2020 TBA Oct. 1, 2019

For more information:

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



cgi icon Supervised Apprenticeship


Apprentice Ski Guides complete a supervised apprenticeship before attending the ski guide certificate exam. During this period candidates, are encouraged to obtain exposure to a variety of guiding operations and snowpack environments and to continue their mentorship and training for the Ski Guide exam.

A minimum of 30 documented days of supervised apprenticeship is required before moving on to the Ski Guide exam

Apprentice Ski Guides are required to attend the Ski Guide certificate exam within three years.