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Terrain Guidelines

It is expected that all AMGA certified guides, certified climbing instructors and guides-in-training operate within the confines of the terrain limitations applicable to their type and level of certification and/or AMGA training.TerrainGuidelines1

Guides can legally access terrain in the following ways:

  1. Working as either an employee or subcontractor for a guide service that holds a permit to operate commercially on public lands;
  2. Working as an individual guide holding permits, either granted to them on the basis of their certification or on some other basis;
  3. Working where permits are not required if the Aspirant level guide is guiding under the direct supervision of an IFMGA Mountain Guide. (The AMGA defines Aspirant level as having passed the Alpine, Rock, and Ski Mountaineering Guide Aspirant Exams.)

Terrain Descriptions

American Mountain Guide/IFMA Guide
American Mountain Guide status is awarded to guides certified as Rock Guide, Alpine, and Ski Mountaineering guides. American Mountain Guides can guide on any climbing or skiing terrain without limitation.

AMGA Alpine Guide
The AMGA Alpine Guide terrain includes Rock Instructor terrain and terrain that is of wilderness nature, up to alpine Grade 5, with complex approaches and descents that may include snow, ice and glaciated terrain.  The routes can be long and complex with the majority of the terrain being 3rd and 4th class with significant steps of 5th class.  The AMGA Alpine Guide should refrain from doing long sections of high standard 5th class climbing that is more akin to Certified Rock Guide terrain without also holding that certification.

AMGA Rock Guide
The AMGA Rock Guide terrain includes Rock Instructor terrain and terrain that is of wilderness nature, up to Grade 5, with complex approaches and descents that require substantial short-roping.  The approach and/or descent should not require movement on snow or ice that creates a falling hazard. Rock Guides should refrain from guiding terrain where the preponderance of the climbing is 3rd and 4th class and it is alpine in nature without holding Alpine Certification. 

AMGA Ski Guide
The AMGA Ski Guide terrain is of wilderness nature, includes glaciated and non-glaciated terrain, may have simple or complex ascents and descents, and may include short roping on moderate rock and ice terrain. The AMGA Ski Guide should refrain from doing complex short roping on difficult rock and ice terrain that is more akin to AMGA Alpine Guide terrain without also holding that certification as well.

AMGA Single Pitch Instructor
The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor terrain is not of wilderness nature, up to Grade 1, that is climbed without intermediate belays.  Approaches and descents to and from climbing venues present no difficulties such as route finding, scrambling, navigating, or short roping. The routes should not exceed Grade 1 or be more than one pitch in length.

AMGA Rock Instructor
The AMGA Rock Instructor terrain is not of wilderness nature, up to Grade 3, with simple approaches and descents that require minimal short roping.  The approach and/or descent should have only short sections of Class 3 and/or Class 4 terrain that does not require any movement on snow that creates a falling hazard.  The routes should not exceed Grade 3 in length.

TerrainGuidelines2AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor 
AMGA Climbing Wall Instructors (Lead) are trained and assessed to operate on indoor climbing and bouldering walls, and climbing structures that:

  • Involve lead climbing;
  • Include the instruction of lead climbing.

Certified Climbing Wall Instructors (Top Rope) are trained and assessed to operate on indoor climbing and bouldering walls, and climbing structures that:

  • Do not involve lead climbing;
  • Do not include the instruction of lead climbing.