An individual guide, who has been through an AMGA certification exam, demonstrates a high level of specific skills which separates the professional guide from the recreational climber. An individual can obtain certification in any or all of three primary disciplines: rock, alpine, and ski. The certification process requires a substantial investment of time and money which contributes to the guide’s high operating expertise and standards. Guides who have completed the rigorous AMGA certification process have met accepted worldwide standards of guiding expertise in areas such as hazard awareness, client care, terrain assessment, minimum resource impact techniques, high-angle rescue, and professionalism.
Each AMGA Certified Guide must complete specific training courses, including, first aid courses; career development classes, which offer a period of counseling or practical work; and, finally completing the examination, which utilizes real-world experiences to test the guide’s ability. AMGA certified guides are required to operate using only the certification and terrain limitations applicable to their level of certification, with the safety of the clients as a prime concern at all times.
The AMGA Accreditation Program provides quality assurance and peer evaluation which focus on the international standards for guided climbing, mountaineering, and skiing. The program was developed by professional guides and climbing instructors who are leaders in the outdoor industry. Accreditation provides a consistent and meaningful standard by which to judge the reliability and professionalism of a climbing service. The accreditation process examines core elements of a guiding service, including, operating guidelines; access; permits; insurance; employment and business practices; and, guide training. Having an accredited program informs the general public and land managers that the program utilizes guides who are certified, and that all guides in the program have received formal training appropriate to the terrain over which they guide.
The accreditation program is closely scrutinized. A program can lose accreditation in various ways, including, new ownership, failure of guides to meet the terrain requirements, a high incidence of fatalities or injuries, the loss of insurance, or a violation of the AMGA code of ethics, including illegal guiding or false marketing. Furthermore, accredited programs are assessed through spot reviews, which ensure compliance with accreditation guidelines. All accredited programs provide advanced and specific use-training, medical training and terrain training (e.g., avalanche training). In addition, the programs have supervision guidelines which guarantee up-to-date training.