"The Mountain Guide is a professional qualified to guide groups and individuals in rock climbing and ice climbing ascents, hiking excursions, ski mountaineering expeditions and skiing excursions, teaching them the mountaineering and ski mountaineering techniques, but not the downhill and cross-country skiing techniques."
This is the definition of the professional Mountain Guide according to the Italian legislation, law n.6 of 2 January 1989. But what do these few words actually mean? Hidden behind them, there is a world of passion for the mountains, training at the highest standards, recurrent training and constant updating of skills, deep knowledge and respect for the environment, excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
Rock climbing, mountaineering, ski mountaineering, off-piste skiing, icefall climbing, canyoning: these are the numerous activities that the Mountain Guides are technically trained and professionally qualified to perform.
But there is a lot more to add: the Mountain Guides’ training also includes theory classes that cover topics such as knowledge of the environment, nivology, self-rescue, risk awareness and assessment and soft skills. This is the reason why the Mountain Guides are the only professionals of the mountains recognized on a national and international scale.
Practice of the profession
In order to be qualified to professionally work as a Mountain Guide it is necessary to pass the license exam and to be registered in the regional Professional Register.
The Mountain Guides are the only professionals qualified to guide mountaineering excursions and teach the mountaineering techniques and the correct use of the necessary equipment. The Mountain Guides are experts in several different fields: mountaineering, high mountain, ski mountaineering, rock and ice climbing, canyoning, safety training for works at height, off-piste skiing……
Refresher courses and specialisations
The Mountain Guides are constantly updating and honing their skills and knowledge. In order to be qualified to practice as Mountain Guides, they must attend a compulsory refresher course every three years. The Italian Mountain Guides’ Association has recently established two new specializations: canyoning and training for fall arrest systems and rope access systems users, in order to enhance the Guides’ competence in these fields.
Grades of the profession
There are two grades of the profession: Apprentice Mountain Guide and certified UIAGM-IFMGA Mountain Guide. The Apprentice Mountain Guide is a professional, but he is qualified for guiding excursions and teaching with some restrictions.