Mountain guides, hiking guides, training, and certification

In Europe, especially in alpine countries like France, Switzerland, and Italy, professions that serve to guide people in, up, down, and through the mountains are well regulated to insure a high level of safety, knowledge of the mountain environment, and service.

In France, there are two diplomas issued for state-certified guides:

  • High-mountain guides are the only professionals certified for routes in the mountains that require technical climbing, traveling over permanent snowfields or glaciers, rock climbing routes in a high-mountain environment, basically through any terrain where specific gear is required, and for backcountry skiing. French guides train through and receive their diplomas from ENSA (National Skiing and Alpinism School). The program, which lasts three years, teaches students every aspect and technique for safely climbing, navigating, and guiding in the mountains. Once they graduate, their diploma and certification are IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations) approved and recognized around the world.
  • Hiking guides or “Mountain Leaders” are certified to guide people on hikes and treks through the mountains, with the exception of glaciers, technical rock, or any type of terrain that requires specific technical gear. On snow, they are certified to guide outings on snowshoes, but not backcountry ski tours. Mountain Leaders are highly trained and educated in the environmental aspect of the mountains, from the flora and fauna, to geology, by way of the cultural history of their corner of the Alps. Their diploma and state certification, which they receive after two years of training, are UILMA (Union of International Mountain Leader Associations) approved and recognized around the world.

In other countries, such as Switzerland and Italy, certification for hiking guides varies. However, the standards to receive IFMGA (UIAGM) high-mountain guide certification remain the same for all mountain sports. Regardless, with MBE, you will always be in the safe hands of a state-certified, registered, and insured guide, whether French, Italian, or Swiss.

Please note: the Mt Blanc Experience team, even those currently working 9 to 5 at the office, are genuine specialists, with extensive knowledge of the areas where you will be hiking as well as a great deal of experience in the mountains. Some are also certified mountain leaders. They know the tours we offer like the backs of their hands. They also design the self-guided tours where their knowledge and experience shine.