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Mountain Guides lives are linked by a love and profession to the mountains, and their company will enhance the experience of all those who wish to approach the mountains and learn.
Pete Boardman, 1st ascent Everest SW face 1975. President BMG 1979.
The Mountain Guides qualification is seen as the toughest and top ticket in the climbing world. Mountain guides are extremely experienced mountaineers, climbers and skiers and their qualification allows them to work in amongst the highest mountains around. The qualification usually takes many years to get, from building up the requisite experience through to passing all the gruelling tests - from skiing in the Alps to summer rock climbing in the UK.
VIDEO: British Mountain Guides
Starring in this video is Tim Neill of Plas y Brenin.
Holders of the International Federation of Mountain Guides carnet can look after anyone in any mountains anywhere. It's the highest qualification in the world for leading people skiing, climbing or mountaineering, and is a legal requirement for those working as alpine guides in the European Alps.
Becoming a Guide is as demanding and rewarding as working as one, so it's a route for dedicated mountaineers only. Full training and assessment takes a minimum of three years – if you're already a highly experienced mountaineer and skier, that is. Even to attend an IFMGA pre-training induction course, you need high rock grades under your belt, experience of top alpine grandes courses, solid competence skiing any snow, and the skills and knowledge to look after yourself in Scottish winter. IFMGA training and assessment involves a series of rigorous courses and tests in summer rock, winter climbing, alpinism, off-piste and ski-touring, avalanche safety and coaching.
British aspiring Guides should apply to the British Association of Mountain Guides (BMG). The BMG meets the standards laid down by the European Guides Commission (EGC) and is ratified by the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA).
"Coming from a non-instructional background, I had quite a hard time on the Guide scheme at first: learning how to look after folk in the mountains. I was helped massively by friends who are Guides working at places like Plas y Brenin and Glenmore Lodge. The Scottish winter test was one of the most difficult weeks of climbing I'd ever done, particularly as I had a titanium bar and 4 bolts in my left leg after breaking it in a skiing accident.
I'm now based in Chamonix and try to have as wide a variety of work as I can: off-piste skiing and ice climbing in the winter, ski touring in the spring, alpine climbing in the summer and a commercial expedition to India every autumn. One of the few downsides of all this dangerous walking is that my rock climbing standard has plummeted! But 99% of the time, the work is great and I can't imagine a better job than living and working in the white pointy parts of the world."
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