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AMGA Ski Guide

discipline_ski_colorThis certification is meant for the experienced backcountry skier or ski guide looking to further hone her/his skills in off-trail and glacial terrain. It is designed for guiding either ski tours or ski ascents/descents, on alpine touring, split board or free-heel equipment. Topics covered include: track setting, navigation, efficient 3rd and 4th class travel, short-rope and short pitch techniques, rescues skills, and client care.

Students are expected to arrive with a minimum of four years of recreational backcountry skiing background and an acquired knowledge of knots, belaying, rappelling, anchors, and basic alpine climbing systems. It is assumed that the students can ascend and descend 4500 vertical feet per day. It is expected that student’s are physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for a week of outdoor activity.

Splitboard Use on Ski Programs
Starting in 2014, the AMGA will allow Splitboarders to move through the entire Ski Program on their boards, without being tested on skis. 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. While those who successfully pass the Ski Guide Exam on a Splitboard will become certified through the AMGA, individuals who are pursuing  American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide certification will not become internationally certified until they pass a one-day movement assessment on skis. This is a requirement of the IFMGA, as the association does not allow certification for Splitboarders at this point in time. Those who demonstrate that they meet the ski standard will be awarded American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide certification.

To get your Ski Guide Certification, you must complete:

  • Either the 5 day Alpine Skills Course (ASC) or the 10 day Rock Guide Course (RGC)
  • The 12-day Ski Guide Course (SGC)
  • The 10-day Advanced Ski Guide Course and Aspirant Exam (ASGC/AE)
  • The eight-day Ski Guide Exam (SGE)
  • You must be certified in an AMGA-approved Level III avalanche course (AIARE, AAI, or CAA Operations Level II)
  • You must be certified in CPR and have a minimum 80 hours in WFR

AMGASkiGuide 2015

Program Information

  • Ski Guide Course

    The Ski Guide Course (SGC) is designed for skiers who wish to learn the skills and techniques used while guiding multi-day ski tours in a non-glaciated, yet possible high-mountain backcountry setting. It covers management of 3rd and 4th class terrain, technical ascents and descents, and management of multiple clients and small team rescues. Emphasis is placed on effectively managing risks and maximizing client rewards. Glacier travel, crevasse hazards and sustained technical mountaineering challenges are generally not covered in this course.

    Prerequisites:

    • Current AMGA member
    • Completion of a CPR and WFR Course (minimum 80 hours) or higher certification
    • Successful completion of a Level II Avalanche Course that is AMGA Approved
    • Successful completion of the Alpine Skills Course or Rock Guide Course
    • Four years personal ski touring experience, including multi-day tours and peak ascents
    • Confidence skiing black and double-black diamond terrain, at the time of the course
    • Ability to smoothly link turns in all terrain and conditions in un-groomed backcountry snow
    • Ability to ascend and descend on skis an average of 4500 vertical feet per day
    • Ability to adjust technique to ski in diverse terrain, including sustained descents of up to 50 degrees
    • Experience snow climbing with ice axe and crampons
    • Comfortable with self-arrest and belay
    • Ability to choose appropriate belay and rappel methods for rock and snow
    • Ability to navigate in whiteout conditions
    • Competence with transceiver use and rescue in multiple burial scenarios
    • Experience with winter camping and shelter construction
    • Experience with basic short roping and pitching on snow and rock
    • Experience with map and compass
    • Familiar with LNT practices
    • You have completed 20 different ski tours (5 of which are on terrain 40 degrees or steeper, 5 of which are day tours that include at least 4500 vertical feet of ascent and descent, and 5 of which are multi-day tours using huts or ski camping)

    Format:
    The SGC includes indoors and outdoors classroom time, practice sessions, and skiing on a variety of terrain and snow conditions. Recreational backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering skills and judgment are screened as part of the daily activities. The course is designed to introduce some of the recommended methods common to ski mountaineering guiding through sessions and practical application.

  • Advanced Ski Guide Course & Aspirant Exam

    The Advanced Ski Guide Course & Aspirant Exam (ASGC/AE) is designed for skilled skiers and climbers who wish to learn the skills and techniques used while guiding on complex glaciated terrain. This course covers management of 3rd, 4th and possibly 5th class terrain, technical descents, management of multiple clients, and small team rescues. It emphasizes effective risk management while maximizing client rewards.

    Prerequisites:

    • Current AMGA member
    • Completion of a CPR and WFR Course (minimum 80 hours) or higher certification
    • Successful completion of a Level III Avalanche Course that is AMGA approved
    • Successful completion of the Ski Guide Course
    • Confidence skiing black and double-black diamond terrain, at the time of the course
    • Ability to smoothly link turns in all terrain and conditions in un-groomed backcountry snow
    • Ability to ascend and descend on skis an average of 6000 vertical feet per day
    • Familiar with LNT practices
    • Experience with glacier travel and crevasse rescue
    • Ability to navigate in whiteout conditions
    • Competence with map and compass
    • Mastery of avalanche assessment skills and transceiver use
    • Competence with sled rescue skills
    • Competence with winter camping and shelter construction
    • Competence with basic short roping and pitching on snow and rock
    • Led or shared lead on 10 different alpine routes (2 of which include mid 5th class rock, snow, or ice)
    • Since completing the Ski Guide Course, 10 different ski descents (5 of which are in complex glaciated terrain)
    • Since completing the Ski Guide Course, you have guided/mock-guided at least 10 days in ski mountaineering terrain (documentation must include: dates, location, elevation gain and loss, total horizontal mileage, maximum slope angel and number of clients/mock clients)

    Format:

    The ASGC/AE is a course and includes instruction, coaching, debriefing, and assessment. The assessment phase in known as the Aspirant Exam. The focus of the course is on principle-based learning, giving you the strategies for problem solving through coaching and practical application in simulated guide/client scenarios. Guiding and instructional skills will be assessed during the Aspirant Exam portion(s) of the course. A final assessment will be based on your overall performance.

    Aspirant Exam:

    The Aspirant Exam is intended to help determine whether or not your personal skills meet the minimum standards appropriate for guiding in ski mountaineering terrain. In addition, it serves as preparation for the final certification exam. The standard for the Aspirant Exam is at a level appropriate for guiding clients professionally with only indirect supervision. Finally, the essential skills and abilities of the aspirant guide must be comparable to those of a full guide.

    Assessment Areas:

    • Screening of movement skiing skills as well as movement skills in alpine, snow, and mixed terrain
    • Technical skills assessment:
      1. Transceiver search
      2. Crevasse rescue
      3. Sled lower
      4. Shelter construction
    • Guided days assessment, which includes evaluation in the following nine areas: risk management, client care, technical systems, application, terrain assessment, movement skills, mountain sense, professionalism and instructional technique.
  • Ski Guide Exam

    Goals:

    The goals of the 8-day Ski Guide Exam (SGE) are to assess and certify ski guides at the AMGA and IFMGA international standards and to further the general education of the students.

    Prerequisites:

    • Current AMGA member
    • Completion of a CPR and WFR Course (minimum 80 hours) or higher certification
    • Successful completion of a Level III Avalanche Course that is AMGA approved
    • Successful completion of the Advanced Ski Guide Course and Aspirant Exam
    • Confidence skiing black and double-black diamond terrain, at the time of the exam
    • Ability to smoothly link turns in all terrain and conditions in un-groomed backcountry snow
    • Familiar with LNT practices
    • Mastery of glacier travel and crevasse rescue techniques
    • Mastery of all elements of navigation, including the ability to route find on complex glaciated terrain
    • Mastery of whiteout navigation, including the use of current technologies and map and compass
    • Since completing the ASGC/AE, 10 guided days in ski mountaineering terrain (5 of these days are allowed to be mock-guided)
    • Since completing the ASGC/AE, 10 personal ski descents (5 of which are in complex, glaciated terrain and 5 of which are on slopes 45 degrees or steeper)
    • Documentation of guided days and descents must include: dates, location, elevation gain and loss, total horizontal mileage, maximum slope angel and number of clients/mock clients
    • Students may not take the Ski Guide Exam in the same venue as they took the Advanced Ski Guide Course/AE

    During the exam students are expected to carry out guiding assignments given by the examiners. The students serve as guides to the examiners and to the other participants on routes chosen for their complex guiding challenges. While acting as the guide, students are responsible for route planning, client orientation, risk management and normal guiding practices. Route assignments and client profiles are usually given the night before. Students are responsible for obtaining information about the assigned route as well as alternative routes if the original objective proves infeasible.

    Expectations:

    The exam is conducted on routes chosen by the examiners. Ski mountaineering terrain includes glaciated alpine environments where guides may need to employ extensive short roping techniques, use of the ice axe and crampons, as well as travel on heavily crevassed glaciers. Multi-pitch ice or rock climbing is generally not included in the defined terrain except when necessary to achieve an objective.

    Assessment Areas:

    • Screening of movement skills in rock, alpine, snow, ice, and mixed terrain
      Crevasse Rescue Drill
    • Guided days assessment, which includes evaluation in the following nine areas: risk management, client care, technical systems, application, terrain assessment, movement skills, mountain sense, professionalism and instructional technique.

Schedule

  • Registration opens on August 18, 2015 for all 2016 Programs.
  • The application deadline is when your complete application is due. The notification deadline is the latest date you will be contacted in regard to your enrollment.
  • Applications received after the application deadline will be reviewed on a rolling admission.
  • For more information on how to apply to a program, how resumes are reviewed and the 2016 application and notification deadlines, please click here.

2016 Application and Notification Deadlines

Program DatesCourse or Exam CodeApplication DeadlineNotification Deadline
All programs with start dates between December 1, 2015 and April 30, 2016S1, S2, S3, S4, S5, S6, S7, S8, S9, S10, S11, S12, I1, I2, I3, I4, R1, R2, R3, R5September 15, 2015October 15, 2015
All programs with start dates between May 1, 2016 and August 31, 2016A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, A9, A10, R4, R6, R7, R8, R9, R10, R11, R12December 15, 2015January 15, 2016
All programs with start dates between September 1, 2016 and November 30, 2016A11, A12, A13, R13, R14, R15, R16, R17, R18, R19, R20March 15, 2016April 15, 2016

Ski Programs Schedule

Program Type Code Location State Dates Tuition Status Apply
Advanced Ski Guide Course/AE S3 ASGC 16 Pemberton 1/26/16 - 2/4/16 $2,500.00 Open Apply
Advanced Ski Guide Course/AE S8 ASGC 16 Rogers Pass 3/15/16 - 3/24/16 $2,500.00 Open Apply
Advanced Ski Guide Course/AE S9 ASGC 16 Valdez Alaska 4/6/16 - 4/15/16 $2,500.00 Open Apply
Ski Guide Course S1 SGC 16 Sol Mtn Lodge 1/3/16 - 1/14/16 $3,200.00 Open Apply
Ski Guide Course S2 SGC 16 Jackson Wyoming 1/5/16 - 1/16/16 $2,600.00 Open Apply
Ski Guide Course S4 SGC 16 Crested Butte Colorado 2/8/16 - 2/19/16 $2,600.00 Open Apply
Ski Guide Course S6 SGC 16 Salt Lake City Utah 2/25/16 - 3/7/16 $2,600.00 Open Apply
Ski Guide Course S7 SGC 16 Stanley Idaho 3/5/16 - 3/16/16 $2,600.00 Open Apply
Ski Guide Exam S5 SGE 16 Rogers Pass 2/24/16 - 3/2/16 $2,400.00 Open Apply
Ski Guide Exam S10 SGE 16 Valdez Alaska 4/19/16 - 4/26/16 $2,400.00 Open Apply
Ski Guide Exam S11 SGE 16 Selkirk Lodge 4/23/16 - 4/30/16 $2,900.00 Open Apply

The program tuition for SOL Mountain Lodge (B.C.) includes 6 nights lodging, breakfast and dinner while at the lodge and helicopter ride in and out of the lodge. Program tuition does not include transportation, food, lodging, or lift tickets outside of the lodge stay. Course Director: Jeff Ward.

Course Director: Rob Hess

This course will be split between Salt Lake City and the Ruby Mountains in Nevada. The course will start in SLC and transition to the Ruby Mountains in Nevada from March 3-7 2016. 

This program is based at the Selkirk Lodge. Tuition includes 7 nights lodging, all meals, heliport parking and helicoptor flight in and out of the lodge.