Training and Assessment

3. Training and Assessment of Mountain Guides 


3.1 The IFMGA Mountain Guide receives professional training in all guiding, technical and climbing skills; and while under training, opportunities are provided for the Guide to gain further experience. 

3.2 He is tested and examined in all subjects. The complete skills of a IFMGA Mountain Guide are listed in the actual version of the reference handbook “Skills and Certifications IFMGA Mountain Guides”. 

3.3 Any experienced mountaineer who complies with the requirements of the IFMGA standard can start the training to become a qualified IFMGA Mountain Guide. Training, assessment and certification are organized by the responsible institution in a Member Association. By being a member of a Member Association, the qualified Guide will obtain IFMGA recognition. 

3.4 Member Associations, may train applicants from other countries under certain requirements, they are encouraged to inform the home association of the candidate.



The Training Scheme

3.5 Individual Member Associations have some discretion as to how the Training is delivered, but the following is the minimum required by the IFMGA. 

3.6 Training is a mixture of Group and Individual Training. The group training has to take place before the Individual Training. Group Training are courses delivered to a group of people by a collective of instructors, covering all aspects of the syllabus, whereas Individual Training is training delivered to an individual Aspirant by a trainer teacher, giving an opportunity for the Aspirant to refine guiding skills on actual routes with real clients. 

3.7 Once the entry exam has been passed, the overall training, including all exams, must be 80 days minimum, and it has to be completed within 3 years minimum and 5 years maximum. In addition there must be a minimum of 14 days practice by individual training. 

3.8 The training includes theory and practical. The practical elements must be at least 60 days spread out over the entire training programme, and must consist of at least: 

  • 20 days of general mountaineering terrain (snow, ice, rock) 

  • 20 days of ski/winter (e.g. ski mountaineering, off-piste, ski touring, etc.) 

  • 20 days of rock (alpinism/technical rock climbing) 

At least 40 of these 60 days must take place in classic mountaineering terrain including glaciers, for example the Alps.


Summary of Skills Taught

3.9 A Mountain Guide is trained and assessed in both technical and soft skills, each contributing equally to safety, quality and to a Guide’s general professionalism. 

Examples of technical skills taught: 

Avalanche Evaluation
Environment (fauna, flora, geology, ecology, culture)
First Aid
General Mountaineering, Trekking and Expedition
Mountain Rescue (self rescue, crevasse rescue, avalanche rescue etc.) Navigation
Personal technical skills (general mountaineering, skiing, rock, ice etc.) Practice Guiding Skills
Rope handling
Route Choice 

Examples of soft skills taught: 

Leading and Teaching Motivation
Relations and Social Skills Risk Management 

The required competences in detail are listed in the reference handbook. 


Sequence of the training

3.10 The training is done in the following sequence: 

  • Entry Requirements 
  • Entry Exam
  • Aspirant Guide Course 
  • Practice 

Mountain Guide Course 


Entry Requirements

3.11 An Applicant must: 


  • have reached the age of majority, which varies between countries and is normally 18 yrs. 

  • have extensive experience in the disciplines of general mountaineering, skiing, rock and ice. Skiing must be replaced in “No Ski” countries by winter mountaineering (see 5.15) 

  • provide a list of at least 35 routes which includes varied mountain routes, ski tours, technical climbs, and other experience carried out over a period of at least three years. During these climbs, the applicant must either have been the rope leader with full responsibility or have been doing alternative leads with shared responsibility 

  • be in very good physical shape 

3.12 The list of 35 varied mountain routes must contain: 

Summer Mountaineering 

  • general mountaineering, snow and ice: a minimum of 10 routes of which five must be of difficulty D and with a vertical height gain of at least 800 metres 

  • rock: a minimum of 10 routes with a vertical height gain of at least 250 metres (or at least 10 pitches), of minimum difficulty 4, with protection to be added to at least one part of the climb, in mountaineering boots 

  • the ascent and descent for these routes must have taken place on mountainous terrain and/or on glaciers 

the descent of part of these 20 routes cannot be done by rappelling and must have taken place by a route other than that of the ascent and must have been of an alpine character 

Winter Mountaineering 

  • ski touring: a minimum of 10 days, each day having at least 1000 metres ascent/descent. At least 5 of these days must be on glacier terrain 
  • For “No Ski countries”; a minimum of 10 days mountaineering each day having at least 1000 metres ascent/descent. At least 5 of these days must be on glacier terrain 

Technical Climbs 

  • multi-pitch rock routes, grade 6a (VI) minimum 

  • several pitches on steep ice, grade 4 (IV) minimum 


Other Experience 

• An Applicant must provide any other relevant experience, for example via ferratas, expeditions or climbs abroad/overseas, and training undertaken in Alpine type terrain 


Entry Exam

3.13 Having met the Entry Requirements, an Applicant takes the Entry Exam, which includes: 

  • a rock climbing test of grade 5a minimum in mountaineering boots 

  • a rock climbing test of grade 6b minimum in rock shoes 

  • an ice climbing test with ice axe, using classic techniques 

  • an ice climbing test with one or two ice axes, using front pointing techniques 

  • a skiing test with rucksack, mastering all types of snow on all terrains. (This test is not required for countries where no professional skiing activity takes place, No-Ski countries)

  • a general ability test in mountain terrain 

3.14  Having passed the Entry Exam, an Applicant becomes a Candidate. 


Aspirant Guide Course / First part of the Formation

3.15  A Candidate who, at the discretion of the responsible training institution of the Member Association, has sufficient experience and training, goes on to the Training Scheme for Aspirant Guides.

3.16 This includes at least 50 days of Group Training covering the following subjects (minimum number of days in brackets): 

  • snow and avalanches (6) 

  • self-rescue (4) 

  • First Aid (2) 

  • practical winter (skiing / alpinism) (12) 

  • practical summer (20) , i.e. 10 days general mountaineering in mixed terrain and 5 days of high altitude rock and 5 days snow/ice/glacier

The remaining 6 days are at the discretion of the Member Association. 

3.17 Having passed all courses and assessments of the Aspirant Guide Course, the Candidate becomes an Aspirant Guide. The status of Aspirant Guide is a transitional statusof a minimum of 1 year and maximum of 5 years. The possible activities of an Aspirant Guide are subject to restrictions.


Practice/ Second part of the Formation

3.18 During the period of Practice, an Aspirant must complete at least 14 days of Individual Training (7 in general mountaineering/summer and 7 in skiing/winter); and the following requirements must be observed: 

  • these 14 days training are delivered by at least 2 different IFMGA trainer teachers. The trainer teachers have to be IFMGA mountain guides, each being high quality mentors of experience 

  • the Aspirant must be under direct supervision, by which is meant that the IFMGA Guide and the Aspirant are in close visual and verbal contact with each other 

  • when delivering this Individual Training, the IFMGA Guide can only be responsible for one Aspirant at a time on difficult routes. 

  • the Aspirant keeps a record of routes and experience in a logbook which has to be signed by the different IFMGA Guides this Individual Training must be recognised and approved by the Member Association 


Mountain Guide Course / Third part of the Formation

3.19 Having completed the 50 days of Group Training followed by the 14 days of Practice, the Aspirant can go on to the Mountain Guide Course, which consists of (i) a minimum of 30 days training and tests, divided more or less equally between summer and winter, in which all aspects of the summer, winter and ski mountaineering syllabus are covered and assessed, both practically and theoretically. 

3.20 On successful completion of the Mountain Guide Course, the Aspirant becomes a fully qualified Mountain Guide and receives the Diploma of the IFMGA Mountain Guide. The certification level is described in the actual version of the reference handbook “Skills and Certifications IFMGA Mountain Guides”. 


CPD (Continual Professional Development)

3.21 CPD is training recognised and approved by a Member Association as contributing to the continued professional development of a Mountain Guide. 

3.22 Each Member Association (subject to any national or federal laws) can set its own requirements as to how often CPD should take place. However, the IFMGA recommendation is that a Mountain Guide does CPD at least every 2 years and that it is on the basis of at least 1 day per year.