GROUPS WE SUPPORT: American Mountain Guides Association
We take a large amount of pride in our history of outspoken advocacy for conservation and access causes (locally, regionally and globally), as well as in our efforts to support conservation, education and recreation groups that are on the front-lines of protecting and preserving the wild lands we love and depend on, and this ongoing series will serve to highlight and promote these all-important groups. For a full list of the groups we support, click here.
Compared to Europe's long and storied history, North America is still relatively in its infancy with regards to alpinism and climbing. Where professional associations of mountain guides in places like Switzerland, Austria and Italy have existed for generations, the american equivalent-the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA)-has existed for little more than three decades. We caught up with the AMGA's outreach and advocacy director, Scott Massey, to find out more about it and how it fits into the larger international group of mountain guide associations.
How did the AMGA come to be?
In 1979, several forward-thinking guides, including Yvon Chouinard and Jim Donini, formed the American Professional Mountain Guides Association in Jackson, Wyoming. They saw the need to unify the guiding profession, and increase the level of professionalism by creating consistent and measurable industry standards. In 1986, the AMGA dropped the "P", established a board of directors, and began to develop their training and certification programs. These programs continue to this day, always striving to set the highest standard in the guiding industry.
Have the goals or focus of the AMGA evolved over time?
The core goal of the AMGA has always been, and will continue to be, providing the highest quality guide training and certification. Over the years, the AMGA has become more inclusive; for example, developing programs aimed at climbing instructors. Given the amount of single-pitch terrain utilized by colleges, outdoor clubs, and many guide services, the Certified Single Pitch Instructor now accounts for over 30 percent of the AMGA's membership. We have also begun a more focused advocacy effort; we are the sole organization representing the interests of credentialed mountain professionals with land managers and our representatives in Washington, D.C.
How is the AMGA connected with the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA)?
The AMGA is the sole representative in the United States to the IFMGA. The IFMGA consists of 25 member-countries, and is the international standard-setting organization for mountain guiding. The AMGA was granted membership to the IFMGA in 1997, after many years of program development and observation to ensure that courses and assessments met the international standard. In order for an individual guide to achieve IFMGA Mountain Guide status, they must be certified in the rock, alpine, and ski mountaineering disciplines through the AMGA.
What are some of the current goals of the AMGA?
• Continue to offer the highest quality instruction and training
• Advocate for credential-based access with land managers
• Provide a collective voice for the guiding community
• Serve as a resource to mountain professionals
How does Black Diamond support the AMGA? How important is that support?
Black Diamond is a Diamond Partner - one of our most major contributors. Their continued support is invaluable to the continuation of our high-quality programming. They are the official sponsors of the Rock Guide Exam, with a portion of their contributions going to offset the cost to participants. Another portion goes towards a full scholarship for one individual in any upper-level course or exam. They also contribute products for our Annual Meeting silent auction and fundraiser.
To find out more about the AMGA, guiding programs or to hire a guide, click here.