About mountain guides
The job of a mountain guide is to provide technical expertise and leadership during trips in the mountains, both in the summer and winter. The mountainguide leads his group on climbing-, ski- and mountaineering trips, while he or she continually evaluates the risks and hazards inherently associated with the alpine environment. He or she then makes the necessary decissions and takes appropriate action to minimize those risks and hazards.
IFMGA/UIAGM/IVBV is the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (the acronyms mean the same thing in three diffferent languages - English, French and German). In the European Alps it is forbidden by law to work as a mountain guide if one is not certified by the IFMGA/UIAGM/IVBV.
It typically requires about 10 years of climbing- and skiing to gather the necessary experience required to be accepted into the mountain guide training program. After being accepted, the training takes 3-5 years to complete. IFMGA/UIAGM/IVBV was formed in 1965. One of the goals of the organization is to set a uniform standard for the training and certification of mountain guides worldwide. The individual membership countries (among others France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Canada, USA, Germany, Sweden and Norway) are then responsible for running a national training program that live up to the international standards.
Find out if your guide is certified
Not all countries place demands on the qualifications of mountain guides. In many places, anyone who wants to, can call themselves a mountain guide and lead their guests into the mountains. In order to tell if a guide is certified, you can:
Talk to the guide and ask about his/her education/training.
Look at his/her clothes and equipment. Many guides carry the IFMGA logo (seen in the top right corner of this textbox) somewhere.
Look at the website of the national mountain guide organization which the guide belongs to. They will probably have a list of cetified guides
Ask to see their guide ID. All IFMGA certified mountain guides have a credicard-sized identification card showing their picture, as well as the logo of both their national guide organization and the IFMGA. On the backside there will be stickers showing the current year.