An IFMGA Mountain Guide is a professional whose competence has been certified by an official institution, accredited by the IFMGA. He may lead, instruct, advise and coach members of the public in a variety of mountain situations, for example general mountaineering whether on foot or on skis, or more technical activities like rock climbing and ice climbing.
To ensure that this is done as safely and responsibly as possible, the IFMGA has a Training Scheme, setting a common standard worldwide. The training is at a high level in the four disciplines of general mountaineering, skiing, rock climbing and ice climbing.
Recognising that individual countries may have their own individual requirements as regards the training of their own Mountain Guides, a degree of autonomy exists within the IFMGA Training Scheme. While the Scheme covers technical skills in depth, the IFMGA attaches equal importance to the non-technical or ‘soft’ skills of a Mountain Guide. Also, each and every IFMGA Mountain Guide is expected to observe the Code of Professional Conduct.
Any country with an existing and substantive Mountain Guiding Association may join the IFMGA, provided it complies with the entry requirements, and indeed is encouraged to do so; and the IFMGA has guidelines for interested associations outlining the application procedure. It is an objective of the IFMGA that there is free movement of Mountain Guides within its member countries.
In addition to training Mountain Guides in the core skills of mountain guiding, the IFMGA also runs courses for professionals in Canyoning and in Rope Access.
An IFMGA Mountain Guide’s skills are transferable to situations away from the mountains, for example to give specialist support to the Fire and Rescue Services.