There are several reasons why heading for the mountains brings such high levels of excitement and expectations. Perhaps, the inherent risks have something to do with it. Whatever may be the case, it’s an undeniable fact that you’ll have to deal with more than one challenge, whether in the form of difficult terrain or unfavorable climatic conditions.
Irrespective of how you look at it, exploring the mountains is a calculated risk. Therefore, one of the best ways to mitigate these risks and guarantee your safety is to bring others along. Let’s be honest; you don’t want to get caught alone at high altitudes with no one to turn to.
For the people you can have in your group, hiring an IFMGA or AMGA certified mountain guide is not only highly recommended, even for regular alpine ascents and climbs. It is also likely to make the most significant difference.
And here’s why.
What is an IFMGA Guide?
For starters, IFMGA is the abbreviated form of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association. This is an association of mountain guides established in 1965 due to the collective work of mountain guide associations from France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy.
At present, about 26 different mountain climbing associations from five continents belong in the IFMGA. Any country that has a guide association can be part of the IFMGA. However, their training and hiring process must meet the standards of the federation.
The IFMGA aims to set a uniform and high standard for recruiting and training mountain guides worldwide. It teaches, conditions, instructs, and coaches guides to excel in these four primary disciples, namely:
- Rock climbing
- Ski touring
- Ice climbing
Apart from the IFMGA, several other certifications exist for mountain guides, specifically for the US; American Mountain Guides Association sets the standard. Hiring a guide from any of these associations makes a world of difference, and here are five reasons why.
- Mountain Guides Ensure Your Safety
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Among the heap of concerns you’ll when heading out, safety is number one. It makes no difference if you’re a high-performance athlete or an expert in safety courses. You’ll still benefit by hiring a local guide when venturing into a new area.
Local certified guides know the terrain like the back of their hands. This intimate knowledge of the possible climb conditions will help avoid trails that are prone to rockfalls and avalanches. Should anything go wrong, you’ll be in good hands.
- They Recommend The Best Routes
If it’s your first time hiking, climbing, or trekking somewhere, you may not know the best spots. Chances are, you have limited time to explore. Hence, a certified guide local to the area can help you make the most of your time by leading you to the best spots.
Also, guides rely on teamwork and share information about trails and changing weather conditions. Therefore, you’ll get the collective knowledge of an entire network by hiring a certified guide.
- They Make The Logistics of Your Trip Easier
Before you take the first step of any climbing, skiing, or mountaineering trip, there’s a lot of preparation and planning you need to complete—things like where you’ll stay and items to conveniently complete your entire trip. However, the services of a guide can enable you to iron out these logistic details quickly. They can help arrange your accommodation, hiking gear, transport, etc.
- You Get a Hand With Your Skills
Before most guides become certified at the AMGA or IFMGA level, they’ve completed countless ascents of several terrains and mountain peaks. Also, they have perfected a diverse array of essential techniques and skills. Therefore, they’re in the best position to assist first-timers and seasoned climbers hone their skills. Moreover, they’re excellent observers and communicate feedback effectively.
- Guide Offer Excellent Travel Companionship
The motivating factor that pushes most guides to get their certification is the undying passion for outdoor sports. The genuine interest in their activities is something money cannot buy, and it makes them the ideal companions when heading into the backcountry.
They provide social support, interesting interactions, and a wealth of exciting adventure stories to enrich your experience.
Just like any complex and challenging endeavor in life, you’ll need a lot of patience. For that reason, you’ll have to master the urge to rush into things, no matter how thrilling or exciting you may feel. It takes time to refine your outdoor skills, and you’ll require a lot of feedback.
All of these factors make having a mountain guide so much more essential because you’ll need someone to remind you to take it easy on yourself while you’re out there. The expertise and insight of a more experienced guide will help you understand why the difficulties and struggles are normal. Hence, allowing you to enjoy yourself while you learn.