Why hiring a guide?
For a lot of people, hiring a guide seems like a vaste of money. -It’s only a mountain, how hard can it be?
But for some people, using a guide is the only way they can do the trip they want. But either you are an experienced mountaineer or it’s your first time in the mountains, using a guide can be a unique experience. It allows you to fully experience the mountains at your own pace. The guide has the technical skills and knowledge to reduce risk and make steady progress on the climb. He also knows the area and mountain well and has the experience needed, not just to choose the best route for you according to conditions, but also to make the right decisions during the climb. And for all guides, taking the clients to the summit is not the most important thing, getting down safe is much, much more important!
Qualification of a Guide
Taking people climbing and skiing in the high mountain is a very big responsibility and should only be done by qualified personel. For that reason it may be surprising, but in Norway there is no formal qualification needed for guiding, not on climbing and not on ski touring.
In the Alpes and some other countries you have to be recognized as a international qualified guide (IFMGA – International Federation of Mountain Guides Association) to work in the mountains.
From IFMGA web page:
The aim of the association is to maintain close ties between all mountain guides; to harmonise the work regulations which govern the profession; to ensure better safety conditions for clients; and to facilitate the ability of mountain guides to work abroad, on mountains all over the globe. This last point materializes itself in the concrete solidarity which exists between all guides, no matter their country of origin, and the spontaneous assistance they provide to each other.
Highly competent guides with a high level of training, the highest in existence, is required in four different disciplines in order to become a certified IFMGA mountain guide: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering and ski mountaineering. IFMGA training gives a guide the ability to work on any mountain range whether they already know the mountain or not. It takes five to 10 years to become a mountain guide, from the moment they start serious mountaineering to the moment when they receive their guide diploma.
In Norway, the IFMGA is represented by NORTIND (Norske Tindevegledere) and NORTIND is responsible for all training and for qualifying guides on the highest level.
Choosing a guide
In Norway there are many guides without the IFMGA qualification that are working professional and are taking clients safely to summits all year. But for you, who are about to choose a guide, only the IFMGA credit guaranties you that your mountain guide has been through a high level of training on rock climbing, ice climbing, generell mountaineering and ski mountaineering. And for that reason, you should choose a IFMGA mountain guide.
IFMGA – International Federation of Mountain Guides Association
NORTIND – Norske Tindevegledere – with list of all Norwegian IFMGA guides