Mountain guide

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Anselm Klotz (left), Lechtal mountain guide authorized by the Alpine Club in 1885

Mountain guides are - mostly state-certified - alpinists who, based on their experience, local knowledge or special training, lead or train other hikers, climbers and mountaineers responsibly in the mountains against payment .

birth hour

St. Niklaus in the Swiss canton of Valais is considered to be the cradle of professional mountaineering in the second half of the 19th century, where the world's first mountain guide museum is now located.

In general, the first mountain guides were shepherds and mountain farmers who offered alpine experiences to mostly British travelers during the summer months.


In the course of the increasing tourist development and use of the mountain regions in the 19th century, the need for this activity increased, so that working as a mountain guide has been a separate profession for several decades with binding training paths and legally protected titles.

Not only alpinists need mountain guides, but also all other professions that are out and about in alpine or very difficult terrain. This includes border guards , game rangers , rescue workers, emitters and scientists (e.g. geologists, wildlife biologists).

But many mountain guides and climbers in the mountain rescue or as volunteers or volunteers working such. B. in clubs and for youth groups. Usually, mountain guides are expected to be competent both for summer tours (climbing and high-altitude tours) and for winter tours (ski tours and, more recently, snowshoe tours). Mountain guides are therefore very often also ski guides (with examination: state-certified mountain and ski guide ).

The tour leaders of the alpine associations and alpine clubs have a similar activity to mountain guides. Their training is much shorter and they lead mountain tours on behalf of their club sections. For demanding tours, however, they take the help of mountain guides. Many club sections in mountain areas also have mountain guides among their members who offer their services on a voluntary basis within the association.

Generally mountain guides are paid in advance. If a tour has to be canceled, modified or broken off due to external circumstances (e.g. bad weather), the customers receive a refund, which is based on the savings made by the mountain guide. If the customer lacks physical or mountaineering skills and the tour is canceled as a result, there will usually be no refund.


Since the founding of the International Association of Mountain Guide Associations (IVBV), the training courses have been standardized internationally. The training is threefold:

  • Gathering mountaineering experience; Documentation of these mountain tours; Admission test for aspirant training
  • Aspirant training in summer and winter. With the aspirant diploma, which is valid for 1 to 5 years, the aspirant can train alpinists for a fee and lead them on tours.
  • The mountain guide exam takes place after three years at the earliest.

Further information on training can be found in the article on the IVBV.


Under the condition that after the fall of a mountain guide z. B. in a crevasse that or those led by him are not able to rescue the fallen, a method of self-rescue is called the " mountain guide method ". The mountain guide pulls himself up using an FB-Kreuzklemm or Prusik knot on the safety rope with an improvised pulley.

Organization and structure

Logo of the International Association of Mountain Guide Associations

Since 1966, the national mountain guide associations of Switzerland, Austria, France and the Aosta Valley have been merged in the International Association of Mountain Guide Associations (IVBV), primarily with the aim of ensuring and standardizing training and further education. Since then, the mountain guides of practically all countries in which alpinism is practiced have joined the IVBV.

Mountain guides in Germany

In Germany around 500 mountain guides are organized in the Association of German Mountain and Ski Guides (VDBS), which was founded in 1968. The first official mountain guide in Germany was the Ramsauer Johann Grill . In the public sector in Germany, the functions exist Border Protection Mountain Guides ( Federal Police ), Heeresbergführer ( Bundeswehr ) and police mountain guides ( Bavarian Police ). These special mountain guides only work in the official field.

Mountain guides in Austria

In Austria the mountain and ski guides are organized in the Association of Austrian Mountain and Ski Guides (VÖBS).

During the First World War , several mountain guide companies were set up by the Austro-Hungarian army to fight against Italy in the high mountains. If possible, only trained personnel (residents from the mountain regions) were used for this, who were further trained in courses by the so-called alpine consultants.

Mountain guides in Switzerland

In Switzerland, around 1,400 active mountain guides are organized in the Swiss Mountain Guide Association. There are various functions on the military and official side, for example the mountain specialists in the army ( Geb Spez Abt 1 , trained in Andermatt ), as well as the alpine cadre of the various cantonal police forces .

Mountain guides in South Tyrol

In South Tyrol around 180 active mountain guides are organized in the Association of Mountain and Ski Guides. All of them have successfully completed the three-year vocational training. Since German-speaking associations were banned in Italy in 1923, the mountain guides joined the Club Alpino Italiano (CAI). It was not until 1976 that the South Tyrolean mountain and ski guides were accepted as individual members of the International Association of Mountain Guide Associations (IVBV). In 1978 a new state law on mountain and ski guide regulations was passed, so that the state professional chamber of mountain and ski guides in South Tyrol could be founded. Subsequently, the Association of South Tyrolean Mountain and Ski Guides was founded in 1980. Since then, the German-speaking mountain guides have been organized independently again.

Mountain guides in other countries

In other countries, mountain guides are sometimes not ski guides because there is no background for this, for example in Nepal or the Andes.

Historic mountain guide badges

Web links

Commons : Mountain Guide  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Mountain guides  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Die Welt, October 15, 2004, accessed on August 28, 2017.
  2. For example, general terms and conditions. In: Alpincenter Zermatt. Retrieved May 23, 2018 .
  3. IVBV , accessed on September 21, 2010
  5. ^ Association of South Tyrolean Mountain and Ski Guides ( Memento from December 9, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  6. From nature boy to professional risk manager ( Memento from December 9, 2014 in the Internet Archive )