Guide Training Ski: Whistler & Squamish BC
Whistler / Squamish

Guide Training Ski


  • Cost:
  • $1299

Location: Whistler   Duration: 5 Days   Fitness: Peak   Ability: Intermediate   Prerequisites: See Course Info  

This 5 day course is designed to provide professional guide level skills for the aspiring ski guide, advanced outdoor club leaders, or those seeking to obtain the highest level of expert skills necessary to lead advanced groups into complex backcountry terrain.

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The following dates are available for this course.

If you would like different dates, or to book a private course, please contact us.

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Course Information

The MSAA guide training program has a proven reputation solidly earned through the successful ACMG certification of our program’s candidates. This five day course is aimed at developing, training and mastering professional level ski guiding skills.

The curriculum and its delivery were developed by leading IFMGA/ACMG Mountain Guides and modeled after the ACMG Guides Training courses. The program is recommended for aspiring guide candidates and those seeking to develop and obtain professional level skills such as expert recreationists and outdoor club leaders wishing to lead advanced groups in complex backcountry terrain.

This course has been specifically designed to achieve the following goals:

  • Prepare guide candidates to meet necessary International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA) certification program prerequisites for acceptance and to excel as a candidate once accepted
  • Prepare the advanced recreationist or outdoor club leader with the necessary high level skill set necessary to lead others into complex backcountry terrain
  • Introduce professional level guiding skills, techniques and their proper application
  • Create a clear understanding of the expected ACMG standard for the application of guiding techniques
  • Perform the transition from recreational mode to that of guiding or leadership mentality, including successful guide exam psychology and human factors
  • Overall provide candidates with the necessary foundation, skills, knowledge and mentorship necessary to allow them the best chance to succeed in the very demanding examination process and or to safely guide advanced recreational groups in complex terrain
  • Fast track motivated candidates into professional guiding and or outdoor club leadership positions or as advanced expert recreationists
  • Provide help and support for candidates seeking employment and continued mentorship as aspiring guides

Upon completion of the course:

Those continuing towards the guiding stream will be appointed a Mountain Guide mentor. This is facilitated through special relationships between Mountain Guides and MSAA’s instructors.

All students receive a thorough performance evaluation outlining their performance and any areas that require further improvement.

Successful candidates 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 the Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures Guide Training Ski Certificate.

Of note, after course completion, many of our candidates will usually acquire practicum opportunities with MSAA as well as take advantage of the many entry level guide positions we offer each season.

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.


I took the MSAA Guide Training Ski course and passed my ACMG Apprentice Ski Guide exam. The MSAA Guide Training exceeded all of my expectations and I can say that it made all the difference in my preparation and success. Here’s a  comment from my ACMG performance evaluation: “a strong and well prepared candidate”.  I would definitely recommend this course to anyone who is looking to be a guide…the ACMG exam was tough but I was ready – Thanks MSAA!  John Everts, ACMG Apprentice Ski Guide.

If you wish to apply for the Guide Training Course, please submit your skiing 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!

This is a demanding course and candidates should be well prepared mentally and physically. A typical day will start with a morning guides meeting followed by a long technical ski day and ending with an end-of-day guides meeting and debrief of the day. Candidates will then need to plan their next days trip. Candidates lead all trips and are expected to break trail for their leads.

The itinerary for the course will vary daily based on local conditions and necessary group objectives. A detailed pre-course logistics package will be emailed a week prior to the course start. Please refer to the curriculum for a general overview  of the material covered. Below is a sample itinerary the specifics of which are much more in depth.

Sample Itinerary:

  • Day 1: Introduction to Guiding and Sports day
    • Guides Meeting
    • Seasonal Snowpack
    • Course Objectives
    • Ski ability
    • Companion Rescue drill
    • Crevasse Rescue drill
    • Trip Planning
    • Weather, Conditions & Navigation
  • Day 2: Complex Terrain – Tree & steep skiing in complex terrain
    • Guiding Skills, Techniques, Application & ACMG Standard
  • Day 3: Technical Ski Mountaineering Objective
    • Guiding Skills, Techniques, Application & ACMG Standard
  • Day 4: Complex Glaciated Terrain & Navigation
    • Guiding Skills, Techniques, Application & ACMG Standard
  • Day 5: Complex Terrain
    • Guiding Skills, Techniques, Application & ACMG Standard refinement day
    • Candidate/instructor one on one overall course review
    • Candidates next steps
    • Course Closure & Certificate handout
  • Official performance evaluation, letter of reference, practicum & work opportunities provided within two weeks after course completion


  • Helmet
  • Warm hat
  • Insulating top and bottom under layers and socks
  • Mid layer fleece or wool top
  • Weatherproof soft shell jacket and pants
  • Hardshell
  • Down or synthetic insulated “puffy” jacket
  • 2 pairs of gloves
  • Goggles, sunglasses and sunscreen

Glacier Travel Kit

  • Harness
  • 1 Auto-block device (Petzl Reverso or Black Diamond ATC Guide)
  • Optional rope-man type device and pulleys
  • 4 locking carabiners
  • 4 non-locking carabiners
  • 1 x 120cm sling
  • 2 x 5m 7mm prussik
  • 1 x 1.7 7mm prussik
  • 1 ice screw
  • Glacier Travel Rope & Ski Mountaineering Rope

Backcountry Equipment

  • Backpack 25-35L
  • Touring Skis / splitboard
  • Ski / snowboard boots
  • Skins
  • Poles
  • Avalanche Safety Kit (probe, transceiver, shovel)
  • Repair Kit (Screwdriver, multi-tool, bailing wire, duct tape, fabric repair, spare pole basket & batteries, tie wraps, fire starter)
  • *Rite in the Rain notebook and mechanical pencil (be sure to have this: #311 is best)
  • Guide first aid kit with blister kit and splint
  • Glop stopper
  • Ski scraper
  • Guide tarp
  • Map, compass
  • GPS (optional)
  • Programmable radio (optional)
  • In Reach Device (optional)

Our Ski Guide Training represents the pinnacle of the Mountain Skills Academy and Adventures backcountry curriculum. At this level participants should own, or be in the process of acquiring, all of their own equipment.

Curriculum Overview

  • Transition from Recreational to Professional or Advanced Group Leader
  • Introduction to the Guides Meeting- (Mechanized Ski Industry standard)
  • Advanced weather, conditions and snowpack observation, recording & forecasting
  • Professional level trip planning
  • Topographical map, white out navigation plan and navigating with map & compass
  • The Ski Guides/Leader Pack
  • Situational awareness and Safety: Risk & Hazard management protocols- Ski Guiding/Leadership
  • Sports Day:
    • 6a: Backcountry ski or riding skills assessment
    • 6b: Advanced Companion Rescue review, practice and assessment (4 buried transceivers, 2 of these close burial scenarios) in 15 minutes
    • 6c: ACMG standard un-roped victim crevasse rescue in 45 minutes
  • Introduction to Mountain Sense
  • Introduction to Uphill & Downhill Guiding/Leadership, Terrain Selection,  Route Finding, Track setting, Pace & Client Care
  • Introduction to Guiding/Leadership ski guiding techniques & their application (to the ACMG standard)
  • Training success: Role playing and the psychology of guiding and examination
  • Introduction to Guiding/Leadership Complex Glacier Travel objective
  • Introduction to Guiding/Leadership Technical Ski Mountaineering objective
  • Introduction to Guiding/Leadership Complex Steep Terrain and Tree skiing objective

Assessment Categories:

  • Transition from Recreational to Professional
  • Movement Skills
  • Professionalism
  • Trip Planning & Navigation
  • Technical Systems & Rescue
  • Risk Management
  • Terrain Assessment
  • Guiding/Leadership skills application at standard
  • Mountain Sense
  • Instructional skills
  • Client Care
  • Assessment & Feedback

Course Closure

Performance Evaluations, Guide Training Ski Certificate, MSAA Letters or recommendation

  • Next step advice
  • Course close

Transport to Field Locations

Participants in this course will meet their guide at an agreed time and location, usually the MSAA office on the morning of the first day. From there you will be expected to provide yours and the guide’s transport to get to the ski venues. If you do not have transportation we can arrange this with the guide for a fee.

Accommodation in Whistler

Accommodation is not included in the course price however we can help point you in the right direction.

Food for Backcountry Field Days

Please make sure you to pack plenty of high energy food and snacks as well as fluids.  There are plenty of local restaurants and supermarkets in Whistler and Squamish.

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Share the cost of the guide! Let us know which activity you would like to do and we'll do our best to find you a buddy.

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 48 hours of start time:  Cancellation will result in a 100% forfeit of tour price, no rescheduling.
  • More than 48 hours:  $25 rescheduling & refunding fee (per booking).
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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