Update: AMGA Titles for Training & Certification Levels Redefined

Dale-RemsbergBy Dale Remsberg

While many regions in the United States have seen little precipitation, Colorado experienced one of its wettest falls and is now having one of its best winters in the last decade. We’re enjoying excellent midwinter ice and now finally some deep powder skiing! We’re also experiencing significant changes with the technical branch of our organization. These are our latest updates.

Definition of Titles for Training and Certification Levels:

First, we’ve made simple but important changes to the vernacular we will be using and that we will encourage guides going through the AMGA training to use. The following terms and examples are taken directly from the AMGA Terrain and Supervision Guidelines.

Instructor: An individual who has passed the Climbing Wall Instructor Certification Course, Single Pitch Instructor Assessment, or Rock Instructor Exam.
Examples: An individual who has passed the Climbing Wall Instructor Certification course assessment is a Climbing Wall Instructor. An individual who has the Single Pitch Instructor assessment is a Single Pitch Instructor. An individual who has passed the Rock Instructor Exam is a Rock Instructor.

Apprentice Guide: An individual who has taken one of the first level courses (Alpine Skills Course, Rock Guide Course, Alpine Guide Course, or Ski Guide Course).
Example: an individual who has successfully completed the Ski Guides Course is an Apprentice Ski Guide.

Assistant Guide: An individual who has passed the exam component of an advanced level course.
Example: An individual who has passed the Advanced Rock Guide Course and Aspirant Exam is an Assistant Rock Guide.

Aspirant Mountain Guide: This title is limited to individuals who have passed the Aspirant Exam component of all three advanced level courses.
Example: An individual who has passed the Rock, Alpine, and Ski Aspirant Exams is an Aspirant Mountain Guide.

Certified Guide: An individual who has passed a full exam.
Examples: An individual who has passed her Alpine Guide Exam is an Alpine Guide. An individual who has passed his Rock Guide Exam, Alpine Aspirant Exam, and Ski Guide Course is a Rock Guide/Assistant Alpine Guide/Apprentice Ski Guide.

American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide: Any guide who has passed all three guide level exams is an American Mountain Guide.

Updates/Changes to Programs and Program Titles:

We will update these changes in all of AMGA materials by mid 2014.

Rock Program:

  1. Rock Guide Course (formerly the Rock Instructor Course)
      1a. Rock Instructor Exam
  2. Advanced Rock Guide Course/Aspirant Exam
  3. Rock Guide Exam

Alpine Program:

  1. Alpine Skills Course
  2. Alpine Guide Course
  3. Ice Instructor Course
  4. Advanced Alpine Guide Course/Aspirant Exam
  5. Alpine Guide Exam

Note: If entering the Alpine Program after taking the Rock Guide Course, a person is allowed to take the Ice Instructor Course before or after the Alpine Guide Course. If entering the Alpine Program via the Alpine Skills Course, then the Ice Instructor Course cannot be taken until after completing the Alpine Guides Course.

Ski Program:

  1. Alpine Skills Course
  2. Ski Guide Course Module 1 (downhill/mechanized)
  3. Ski Guide Course Module 2 (touring)
  4. Advanced Ski Guide Course/Aspirant Exam
  5. Ski Guide Exam

Note: We’ve made various changes to the Ski Program. We dropped “Mountaineering” from the advanced and exam levels because it is now assumed that the training program takes place and examines on glaciated terrain and is in line with the IFMGA platform. The AMGA had a separate lower level ski certification called, “AMGA Certified Ski Guide.” Just 10 people took and passed that exam, and seven are current with their memberships. Their certifications will stand as tested and with the terrain guidelines that were in place at the time of their exam. They also must continue to be members in good standing.

Alpine Skills Course:
Additionally, we included the Alpine Skills Course to both the Alpine and Ski programs. However, if a guide has already started the traditional flow with the Rock Guide Course, the Alpine Skills Course is not required for either program. We added this new program for two reasons:

  1. The Alpine Flow: With the new terrain and supervision guidelines it has become prohibitively difficult for new guides working on simple alpine terrain to complete the Rock Guide and Alpine Guide courses in a reasonable amount of time before working on that terrain, even under direct supervision. The Alpine Skills Course addresses this issue by allowing people to take six days of basic guide training and then work under direct supervision of a guide with advanced training on basic alpine terrain. The Terrain and Supervision Guidelines outline the specific requirements for supervision on that terrain.
  2. Alpine Skills Course (as it pertains to the Ski Program): We began to see substantial problems on the Ski Guide Courses as the AMGA Ski program matured. Primarily, courses mixed students taking their first AMGA program with students already certified in Rock and/or Alpine. Thus, skill sets were unequal; new students needed to get up to speed on basic rope and technical systems, resulting in valuable time being taken away from experienced students needing to practice Ski Guide skills. With the new flow, if a student has not taken the Rock Guide Course and wants to enroll in the Ski Guide Program, he will first need to complete an Alpine Skills Course.

Splitboard Use on Ski Programs
Finally, at the fall Technical Committee Meeting, we prioritized the discussion on splitboarding. We decided to allow Splitboarders to move through the entire Ski Program on their boards, without being tested on skis. We still have some details to work out, such as the title for a certified Splitboard Guide and how to examine the movement.

Note: Splitboarders will have to demonstrate all the same guide skills as skiers, and their travel mode will have to be via skins. No snowshoes will be allowed. As well, people who have passed all their exams, including the Ski Guide Exam on a splitboard, will not become an American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide. The IFMGA platform does not allow for it at this point. However at any point, an individual utilizing a splitboard can come back and take a one-day ski assessment. Those who demonstrate that they meet the ski standard will be awarded American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide certification.