Mount Rainier Revised Permit Policy - 2011
Commercial Use Authorizations for Single Trip Guides - 15 CUAs
Mount Rainier is widely recognized as one of the best places in North America to train
for longer and more difficult climbs in Alaska and abroad. The purpose of Single Trip
Guide CUAs would be to enable uniquely qualified national and international climbing
guides to bring their clients to Mount Rainier for a one-time trip. The park reserves the right to review and modify the components of this
program and to terminate the program if conditions warrant.
Mount Rainier National Park will require one of the following certifications for guides
applying for Single Trip Guide Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs):
- AMGA Alpine Guide Certification;
- AMGA Ski Mountaineering Guide Certification;
- IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guides Association) a.k.a. the
UIAGM (Union Internationale des Associations de Guide de Montagne) Guide
Certification (full guide); or
- Equivalent, documented training and experience as determined by the park.
The park has reviewed the technical guiding requirements for these certifications and
has deemed the requirements for each level of certification adequate for the hazardous
terrain encountered on Mount Rainier. This includes the ability to move safely with
clients on glaciated, heavily crevassed terrain, and to lead clients through areas of steep
snow, ice and rock steps of low fifth class difficulty.
The park considered the acceptance of these organizations within the guiding
community before making this determination. The following provides a brief overview
of each organization:
- While not the sole association
of mountain guides in the U.S., the AMGA enjoys the largest membership and is the
only American association with membership in the IFMGA.
- AMGA certification requirements are currently recognized for guides at two
national parks (Rocky Mountain National Park and Joshua Tree National Park)
and will soon be recognized at another (New River Gorge National Park).
- The IFMGA has been the most well respected international association of
mountain guides since its inception in 1966. Full member organizations of the
IFMGA now exist in Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy,
Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland, Poland, and the USA. Only IFMGA certified guides from full
member organizations will be allowed to participate in this program.
First aid requirements are incorporated into the suggested guide certification
requirements. All AMGA certified guides are required to have current Wilderness First
Responder certification and all IFMGA member organizations require “…an acceptable
level of first aid training…” (from IFMGA certification guidelines) for their guides before IFMGA certification status is obtained. Copies of current emergency medical
certifications will need to be presented to the park as part of the single trip guide
application evaluation process.
Finally, the park has considered the need for Leave No Trace (LNT) training and has
reached the following conclusions:
- The AMGA builds LNT material into all levels of their courses and examinations.
Certified Alpine Guides and Certified Ski Mountaineering Guides will necessarily
have had significant exposure to LNT principles through their coursework and
will likely also have had significant field experience incorporating LNT practices.
AMGA guides will be provided with information on the specifics of Mount
Rainier National Park’s policies as part of the application process, but the guide
can be expected to possess a satisfactory familiarity with LNT principles.
- A small number of IFMGA guides are likely to be unfamiliar with certain LNT
principles. Rather than use what is largely a cultural difference as a limiting criteria
for these guides,the appropriate comprehensive information will be shared with
IFMGA guides (a pamphlet from the LNT organization and additional material
covering the specifics of Mount Rainier National Park policies) along with a clear
warning of the consequences of ignoring park rules and policies.
Certification Requirement Clarifications
- The lead guide for all single trip CUA activity at the park must have the required
certification. Assistant guides accompanying the lead guide are not required to be
- Company accreditation and guide certification are different. The single trip guide
CUAs will only be issued to certified guides as defined in this plan.
Accredited guide services will only be eligible to participate in this program if the
lead guide on the expedition/trip is certified (as defined in this plan).
- The park may amend the qualifications requirement at a future date as
- Previous guiding experience on Mount Rainier will not be a requirement for
obtaining a single trip guide permit.
Consideration was given to reviewing all individual climbing resumes from single trip
guide applicants. However, this laborious task would significantly increase the
administrative cost for this program. For this reason, the park has elected to primarily
utilize existing, nationally and internationally recognized certification programs to
screen permit applicants. Because this program is experimental in nature, this decision
will be reviewed and may possibly be amended in the future.
Conditions Applicable to Single Trip Guide CUAs
15 Single Trip Guide CUAs are available. Each may guide:
- 1 group per permit (maximum of 1 permit per entity per year);
- 6 per party maximum (4 clients maximum);
- 5 nights per trip (maximum);
- 2 clients per guide;
- Trips on any route outside the Commercial Free Zone (including guiding the
Muir, Emmons and Kautz Routes); and
- Trips Sunday through Thursday (no Friday or Saturday night stays).
Single Trip Guides must have:
- AMGA, IFMGA certification or
equivalent (as determined by the park);
- Wilderness First Responder or equivalent certification; and
- Leave No Trace certification or knowledge.
Single Trip Guides cannot be employed by a concessioner at the time of their trip and
may not be Mount Rainier National Park guided mountaineering concessioners.
Due to the limited capacity of the Liberty Ridge climbing route and the limited window
of opportunity for good conditions on this route (approximately 60 days), and to avoid
conflicts with concession and independent climbers scheduling their trips, a maximum
of 2 (of the 15) Single Trip Guide parties may access this route each year.