Guide Training Alpine: Banff & Canmore Alberta
Banff / Canmore

Guide Training Alpine

Guide Alpine Training Course Western Canada


  • Cost:
  • 2 people: $1375 per person (surcharges may apply)

Location: Canmore and Banff, Canadian Rockies   Duration: 5 Days   Fitness: Excellent   Ability: Intermediate   Prerequisites: See course info  

Becoming a professional guide is a very demanding undertaking. The Guide Training Alpine program is a 5-day course aimed at training aspiring guides.

Make a Booking

To make a booking please call 1 855 938 9242 or email us at

Course Information

Becoming a professional guide is a very demanding undertaking. The Guide Training Alpine program is a 7-day course aimed at training aspiring guides.

Modelled after the ACMG Guides Training courses, Mountain Skills Academy’s Guide Training Alpine has been specifically designed to achieve the following goals:

  • Prepare students to meet the necessary prerequisites for acceptance into the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA) certification programs
  • Provide students and aspiring guides with the necessary skills and mentorship so that they may succeed on the very demanding exam process
  • Fast track motivated students into professional guiding
  • Provide help and support for students in obtaining employment and mentorship as aspiring guides

Upon completion of the course:

  • Each student is appointed a Mountain Guide mentor in their country of training. This is facilitated through special relationships between Mountain Guides and Mountain Skills Academy schools and instructors
  • Students receive a thorough performance evaluation which tells them their strengths and weakness and what they need to work on
  • Students receive an official letter of recommendation and reference from the course lead guide. This letter will aid students in gaining acceptance into an IFMGA training program as well as to help them obtain relevant work or practicums
  • Students receive a Mountain Skills Academy Guide Training Alpine Certificate.

Guide Training

The training portion of course is designed to help candidates obtain a full repertoire of skills in advanced rock climbing systems, leadership, and guiding technique. Be prepared for in-depth and intensive skills training days as well as demanding technical ascent days. Daily evening lectures focus on topics such as route planning (including exploring local weather conditions, route plans and guides/leader meetings).

Our training meets or exceeds UIAA training standards. Skill sets, techniques and application methods are all based on the standards set forth by the IFMGA.

Exam and Assessment

The assessment/exam portion of the course has been designed to replicate an actual professional level guide exam, ensuring that candidates meet the standard required to independently and safely lead others in rock climbing.

Assistant Guides and Alpine Club Amateur Leaders

Those seeking Assistant Guiding or Alpine Club Amateur Leader careers will additionally receive important Whistler Alpine Guides letters of recommendation from their instructors. These are for aiding in gaining acceptance to official IFMGA Assistant Guiding training programs, acquiring employment or acquiring Amateur Trip Leader positions with Alpine Club trips. We also provide each guide candidate with guide training specific feedback, including a list of recommended objectives and tasks to be accomplished in order to either successfully be accepted to the Assistant Guide program or pass an Assistant Guide program exam.

If you wish to apply for the Guide Training Course, please submit your alpine skills resume and experience/courses completed in the format of the ACMG TRU Canadian Mountain and Ski Guide Program application to our Guide Training Program Co-ordinator at We will then provide a specialized Mountain Master Plan that will map out the courses, cost and time commitment needed in order to achieve your goals of being a guide!


Teaching technique: Teaching technique is the method expected of professionals when teaching a particular skill.

Demonstration standard: This is the standard protocol laid out by professional guiding associations which has the guide demonstrate to students the appropriate technique when teaching a specific skill.

Guide technique: These are prescribed techniques and guidelines established by professional guiding associations.
Professional standard or Guide standard: This is the level of performance expected for a certain skill or aptitude by professional guiding associations based on different factors such as time, method, difficulty, etc.

Evening One

  • 18:00 orientation meeting at local cafe
  • Sign waivers, introductions and course overview
  • Lessons 1 and 2
  • Discuss: Ethics and tradition, Environment and access, Risk management, safety and emergency procedures, Accelerated W.H.A.T. curriculum

Day One

  • 07:30 meeting at local cafe
  • Guide Meeting: local conditions, weather, route plan evaluation, gear check
  • This portion of the course teaches advanced weather forecasting tools and use, conditions assessment, trip planning, route plans, navigations plans and in-field conditions recording
  • Lessons 3 – 26
  • 17:00 End of day debrief

Day Two

  • 07:00 meeting at local cafe
  • Guide Meeting: local conditions, weather, route plan evaluation, gear check
  • Drive to local area
  • Lessons 27 – 37
  • 17:00 End of field day
  • Evening Session: 18:30
  • Lessons 38 – 40
  • Evening Guides Meeting: Nutrition, Physiology and injury prevention
  • Assignment: Next day trip and route plan
  • Mountain skills and technique- Alpine Rock

Day Three

  • 07:00 meeting at local cafe
  • Guides Meeting: local conditions, weather, route plan evaluation, gear check
  • Lessons 41 – 50
  • End of field session
  • Evening session:
  • Lessons 50 – 52

Day Four

  • 07:00 meeting at local cafe
  • Guide Meeting: local conditions, weather, route plan evaluation, gear check
  • Lesson 53
  • Drive to local alpine rock ridge objective
  • Lesson 54 – 56
  • End of field day
  • Evening Session:
  • Lessons 57 and 58
  • PM Guides meeting

Day Five

  • 06:00 meeting at local cafe
  • Guide Meeting: local conditions, weather, route plan evaluation, gear check
  • Lessons 59 – 61
  • Evening session
  • Lesson 62
  • PM Guides meeting

Day Six

  • Alpine start
  • Guide Meeting: local conditions, weather, route plan evaluation, gear check
  • Lesson 64
  • Day debrief
  • PM Guides Meeting

Day Seven

  • Alpine Start
  • Guide Meeting: local conditions, weather, route plan evaluation, gear check
  • Lesson 65
  • Day debrief
  • PM Guides Meeting
  • Lesson 66
  • Exam

Day Eight

  • 08:00 meeting at local cafe
  • Guide Meeting: local conditions, weather, route plan evaluation, gear check
  • Assessment 1
  • Drive to local glacier
  • Assessment 2 – 7
  • End of field assessment
  • Assessment 8 candidate run p.m. guides meeting
  • Days Nine & Ten assessments:
  • Assessment 9 – 12
  • Exam – complex mountaineering objective

Day Nine

  • Alpine Start
  • Assessment – Candidate led guide meeting
  • Drive to objective
  • Assessment 13
  • Day debrief
  • End of assessment day
  • Assessment – Candidate led p.m. guide meeting
  • Exam – Alpine rock objective

Day Ten

  • Alpine start
  • Assessment – Candidate led guide meeting
  • Drive to objective
  • Assessment 14
  • Day debrief
  • End of assessment day
  • Assessment – Candidate led p.m. guide meeting
  • Exam – General & make-up/fine tuning day


  • Mountain Master Certificate
  • MSA Letters of recommendation
  • Next step advice
  • Course close


  • Warm hat
  • Insulating top and bottom underlayers and socks
  • Mid layer fleece or wool top
  • Down or synthetic insulating “puffy” jacket
  • Weatherproof shell jacket and pants
  • Gaiters
  • 2 pairs of summer climbing gloves


  • Backpack 35-45L
  • Head lamp and spare batteries
  • Water bottle (1L)
  • Sunglasses sunscreen
  • Hiking pole
  • Three season sleeping bag (synthetic or down)
  • Bivy bag- optional
  • 2 man tent- optional
  • Guides tarp- optional
  • Bowl and eating utensils
  • Helmet
  • Harness
  • Mountaineering boots
  • Mountaineering axe
  • 1 technical ice axe
  • Crampons
  • 3 locking carabiners
  • 1 belay device
  • 1 x 120cm sling
  • 4 non-locking carabiners
  • 2 x 5m 7mm prussik
  • 1 x 1.5m 7mm prussik
  • 1 x 22cm ice screw
  • Compass, map
  • FIRST AID KIT with blister kit-optional
  • Rite in the Rain notebook and mechanical pencil

The following is brought by the instructors. Should students own protection equipment they are encouraged to bring a small alpine rack.

  • 1 Programmable radio for each instructor
  • 2 Ice Screws
  • 5 cams from 0.4″ to 2″
  • 1 set of stoppers
  • 10 alpine draws
  • 2 x 120cm slings
  • Spare carabiners
  • Selection of pitona and hammer
  • Anchor Material- slings etc
  • Rope
  • V-Thread Hooker
  • 1 small knife
  • 1 light iso-butane stove (pocket rocket)
  • Stove gas canister for 1 bivouac
  • 1 light cooking set

Food & Water Not Included
Please bring lots of high energy food and liquids that will sustain you each day.

At this level, participants should already own their own equipment. If you are missing anything in the equipment list please contact the course instructor so that we can make arrangements.

Evening One

  • Lesson 1 Mountain Leadership/Guiding Seminar & the Guides Meeting
  • Lesson 2 Transition from recreational to leadership/guiding mode – field book conditions & weather recording

Day One

  • Lesson 3 Mountain Weather phenomenon – orographic lift, convective cloud activity, humidity, pressure, elevation
  • Lesson 4 Local climate and weather patterns, storm tracks, prevailing winds, chinook, pineapple express, etc
  • Lesson 5 Satellite IR 500 Milli-bar Map
  • Lesson 6 Satellite IR Surface Pressure Map
  • Lesson 7 Satellite Animated Active Weather Fronts loop map
  • Lesson 8 Jet Stream map
  • Lesson 9 Freezing Level Map
  • Lesson 10 WEATHER RADAR
  • Lesson 11 Summer Avalanche hazard considerations (day time warming)
  • Lesson 12 Formulating a professional weather forecast
  • Lesson 13 Avalanche Hazard considerations (avalanche and weather forecast)
  • Lesson 14 Recognizing and mitigating mountain hazards by sight, terrain photo’s – from elevation, weather and climate perspectives
  • Lesson 15 Glaciers and associated hazards-seracs, crevasses, snow bridges, snow plugs, bergschrunds, rock strewn dry glaciers, moats.
  • Lesson 16 Evaluate local mountain conditions
  • Lesson 17 Topographical map review and its advanced use
  • Lesson 18 Recognizing mountain hazard from topographical map & route plan considerations
  • Lesson 19 Compass and its advanced use
  • Lesson 20 Outdoor session: Terrain to Map referencing and Resection
  • Lesson 21 Estimating distance and travel time by foot, climbing and in various terrain, conditions and weather
  • Lesson 22 Map & Compass use – the Grid Reference & plotting a course- basic trip plan
  • Lesson 23 Topographic terrain cruxes – Cliffs, Gorges, Steep Slopes, Scree Slopes, Avalanche Slopes, Moraines, Alder Slopes, undulating terrain with difficult elevation gain/loss, High elevation and River crossings.
  • Lesson 24 Bringing it all together; Mountain Objective: Weather, conditions & mountain hazards + Topo Map + route description & topo = Creating a Route Plan
  • Lesson 25 Exercises: Complete a Route plan utilizing the MSA W.H.A.T. method
  • Lesson 26 Evening guides meeting and next days plan
  • Lesson 27 The alpine guides/leader pack
  • Lesson 28 Mountain communication and EVACUATION procedures

Day Two

  • Lesson 29 Safety Protocols for glacier travel
  • Lesson 30 Environment: Leave no trace and wildlife discussion.
  • Lesson 31 Situational awareness, Rope up point strategy (map & altimeter)
  • Lesson 32 Glacier geomorphology
  • Lesson 33 Anticipating Transitions
  • Lesson 34 Guide technique: Guiding/Leadership on glaciers- safe travel
  • Lesson 35 Guide technique: Taking coils and short roping steeper low angled ice
  • Lesson 36 Guide technique: Moving through crevassed terrain and mitigating serac hazard
  • Lesson 37 Teaching Technique: Snow and ice school- demonstration standard including: Movement on snow with piolet cannes positions, kicking steps, cross step, rest step, proper use of mountaineering ice axe, chopping steps, piolet traction position, self arrest, crampon work on low angled ice, ice climbing, ice down climbing.
  • Lesson 38 Guide technique and Teaching Technique: Guide standard and demonstration standard; snow and ice mountaineering anchors: ice screws, t-slots, snow/ice bollards, snow pickets, ice axe anchors/belays, v-thread and improvised anchors
  • Lesson 39 demonstration standard direct haul crevasse rescue
  • Lesson 40 The deliberate, conservative and rule based alpine guiding/leader approach & strategy
  • Lesson 41 Guide technique: Alpine Rock and short roping
  • Lesson 42 Alpine Rock guide/leader pack

Day Three

  • Lesson 43 Piton Craft
  • Lesson 44 Terrain anchors and terrain belays
  • Lesson 45 Guide Technique- guide standards for anchors
  • Lesson 46 Teaching Technique- demonstration standard alpine anchors
  • Lesson 47 Guide Technique: Direct anchor belays and guide standard belaying
  • Lesson 48 Teaching Standard: Rope rescue
  • Lesson 49 Guide Technique: Standard rappelling and lowering technique
  • Lesson 50 Situational awareness and anticipating rock transitions
  • Lesson 51 Guide Technique; short roping
  • Lesson 52 Body belays
  • Lesson 53 Liability & duty of care
  • Lesson 54 Professionalism
  • Lesson 55 Client care

Day Four

  • Lesson 57 Safety protocol for alpine rock
  • Lesson 58 Client care- the approach and pacing
  • Lesson 59 Guide Technique: Alpine Ridges and short roping- counter balance, short pitching, hazard management
  • Lesson 60 Guide Technique: Alpine rock 4th – 5th class descent
  • Lesson 61The big picture and understanding terrain
  • Lesson 62 Guiding/leadership decision making

Day Five

  • Lesson 63 Guiding technique: Understanding and preserving flow
  • Lesson 64 Guiding/Leading practice on Medium alpine objective
  • Lesson 65 Guide Technique: Dealing with Bergschrunds
  • Lesson 66 Managing a full alpine guiding/leadership day in complex terrain

Day Six

  • Lesson 67 Guide Technique: A mountaineering guiding/leadership day- emphasis on safety and efficiency- complex alpine objective to summit and down to valley

Day Seven

  • Lesson 68 Guide Technique: An alpine rock guiding/leadership day- emphasis on safety and efficiency- complex alpine rock objective to summit and down to valley
  • Lesson 69 The lesson plan

Day Eight

  • Assessment 1 Candidate led guide meeting
  • Assessment 2 Glacier rope management
  • Assessment 3 Crevasse Rescue
  • Assessment 4 Snow school
  • Assessment 5 Step Cutting
  • Assessment 6 Short roping on ice
  • Assessment 7 Ice climbing- ascent/descent system
  • Assessment 8 candidate run p.m. guides meeting
  • Assessment 9 Client care
  • Assessment 10 Risk & Hazard management
  • Assessment 11 Mountain Sense
  • Assessment 12 Technical Systems and application

Day Nine

  • Assessment 13 Complex technical snow & ice mountaineering objective

Day Ten

  • Assessment 14 Technical alpine rock objective

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Important Information

We strongly recommend you purchase insurance for Trip Cancellation, Emergency Evacuation and Adventure Sports Coverage (some backcountry adventures are excluded from coverage).

Emergency Evacuation and Medical Insurance

This coverage provides you with emergency air rescue if required and full medical. Parks Canada provides free evacuation within the Parks and if you are a Canadian resident your medical will be covered by your provincial health plan (except ambulance/air ambulance transport). We strongly recommend international visitors purchase this insurance.

Emergency evacuation insurance is compulsory for all our hut trips, as these typically take place outside of Parks Canada’s jurisdiction.

Trip Cancellation Insurance

To prepare for unforeseen circumstances we strongly recommend purchasing Trip Cancellation Insurance at the time of booking your trip. Trip Cancellation insurance covers many scenarios to reimburse you for cancelled trips outside of your control.

Our recommended insurance provider is Tugo.Com who can be reached via the following:

All prices are quoted in Canadian dollars and are exclusive of a 5% tax (GST). Prices are subject to change. Guide gratuities are not included in fees.

Full payment is required at time of registration. Our preferred method of payment is by Mastercard or VISA through our online payment portal. We also accept credit card payment over the phone, bank transfer and cash.

Mountain Skills Academy takes mountain safety very seriously, however there is no way to completely mitigate risk in alpine environments. Prior to undertaking any of our courses or trips we require you to sign a waiver.

Mountain conditions are extremely unpredictable and can change at short notice. Our guides endeavor to undertake the routes and/or peaks that our clients desire, however our decisions will be impacted by conditions. Unfortunately we are not able to offer refunds if conditions are not suitable to undertake a particular route on the day you have booked. We will however make every effort to take you out for the best day possible given the conditions.

Applicable to all tours and courses*: If conditions force us to cancel a course or trip we will do all we can to accommodate you at another date. If this isn’t possible we will offer a full refund. We reserve the right to decline rescheduling dates based on availability.  *Does not apply to First Aid and Wilderness First Aid courses.

Late Arrival Policy

Guests arriving more than 15 minutes late for an activity forfeit 100% of the tour price. Tours leave promptly; it is recommended to arrive 15 minutes early to sort out gear and sign waivers.

Adventures Cancellation Policy

Half Day and Full Day Programs

  • Within 24 hours: Cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tour price, no reschedule.
  • Outside of 24 hours: $25 rescheduling fee per booking or full refund.
Multi Day Programs
  • 2 Day Programs: Within 10 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition, Outside of 10 days: $25 penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.
  • 3+ Day Programs: 30 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition, Outside of 30 days: $75 penalty to reschedule or full refund.
  • Customized Trips: 30 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition, Outside of 30 days: $75penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.

**On all multi day trips pre arranged add-ons are non-refundable (food, accommodation, etc).

Courses Cancellation Policy

1-2 Day Courses

  • Within 10 days: Cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition
  • Outside of 10 days: $75 penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.

3+ Day Courses

  • Within 30 days: Cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition
  • Outside of 30 days: $75 penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.

**If you are able to find someone else to take your place on a course, please let us know as we are more than happy to transfer bookings.

Minors (under the age of 18 for our courses based in Alberta and 19 for those based in BC) and custodial groups (youths affiliated with an institution where the parents/legal guardian are not present on the trip) may register for certain trips and courses with a letter of consent from parents or legal guardian as well as must sign a waiver and have their parents or legal guardian sign a waiver. Further, we abide by the Parks Canada Custodial Group winter backcountry policy as outlined here.


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