CSGI Level 2


To have candidates attain an understanding of mountain awareness and guiding principles to become proficient with the technical and practical skills needed to work as assistant ski guides within a mechanized backcountry operation.


  • Summer Glacier Course or equivalent
  • Canadian Ski Guide Level 1
  • Canadian Avalanche Association Level 1
  • Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance Level 2 or equivalent
  • Employment in a Helicopter or Cat Ski Operation for 2 years and minimum 60 days experience
  • Back country ski touring resume or trip log documenting experience 
  • Current 80 Hour First Aid Certificate
  • Recommendation from a mechanized ski industry operator

Level 2 Course Introduction

Welcome to the CSGI Level 2 course application process. We hope you have been able to fulfill all of the prerequisites before the commencement of the course.

In order to be successful at the level 2 course ensure that you come prepared. The instructors will cover the examination criteria before the course begins. If you have any questions or comments make sure you address them at that time.

The level 2 CSGI course is tailored to teach experienced level 1 CSGA members the skills necessary to be successful/safe front seat guides. As much as rope and transceivers exams are part of the course content, the biggest difference between level 1 (L1) and level 2 (L2) is the amount of time spent guiding, and making terrain choices.

The instructors expect students to be able to identify mountain hazards and implement specific guiding procedures in order to minimize risk and exposure to themselves and their group. Such hazards include, and are not limited to, the following: avalanche terrain, potential run out zones, start zones, deposition zones, cornices, crevasses, and terrain traps such as gullies, cliffs, creeks, and tree wells.

The instructors will ask candidates to verbalize and demonstrate their thoughts regarding terrain decisions, mountain hazards, guiding procedures, and group management. Candidates are also expected to avoid or manage terrain based on the stability and avalanche hazard on the given day, or subject to the criteria specified by the instructor.

A good way to spend evenings preparing for the L2 is to use multiple available resources as learning tools. Bruce Jamieson’s avalanche handbook is a very useful tool with previous avalanche data regarding rider triggered avalanches. Another valuable tool is the CAA website (click public site, click training, click online avalanche course, and continue to follow the prompts through to ATES).

Success is heavily dependent on your ability to find time to train and prepare. Although the L2 is still a training course, with the large amount of material that must be covered by the instructors, the more you prepare before hand, the more likely you are to be successful in passing the course.

evaluation criteria

These are the criteria that participants will be evaluated on for successful completion of this program.

  • Basic proficiency demonstrated by finding 4 transceivers buried 60cm deep 30m x 30m area within eight minutes. The first transceiver found must be left on. Probe targets are to be used. The targets can measure up to 30cm x 30 cm.
  • Demonstrate ability to build anchors, perform a lower, rappel a fixed line and ascend it.
  • Understand the fundamentals of a crevasse rescue system and be able to lead an organized rescue.
  • To be able to demonstrate a dropper loop system in the field within a timed period. The timed period will be at the discretion of the instructor/examiner depending on the site.
  • Demonstrate a rescue system in the field and be able to adapt it to different systems i.e.: how to transfer the load, pass a knot, not enough rope, adding in mechanical devises and advantage, self-tending brakes.

Understanding the fundamentals of a self rescue and be able to take charge, organize and act as a rescue leader in a search

  • To be able to interpret basic terrain features in the field onto a map and from the map into the field
  • Use a map, compass and altimeter to set up route plans and move through alpine terrain during whiteout conditions
  • To dig snow profiles and make observations within the time constraints of a mechanized skiing operation
  • To determine suitable tests for specific terrain features or stability conditions
  • To adequately assess significant terrain features.
  • To identify hazards and hazard potential.
  • To route-find through terrain identifying safe and suitable routes.
  • To identify the safest routes in any given piece of terrain
  • To understand the fundamentals of guest management and be able to effectively communicate directions.
  • To understand the application of specialized guiding techniques.
  • Document daily observations and activities for reference and liability using a blank paged field book
  • Demonstrate backcountry awareness and the fundamentals of safe decision making.
  • Ability to work on a team, be open to new concepts, strategies, and demonstrate good leadership qualities

Example of Level 2 Schedule

The present outline is dependent on the weather and specific local details. Some changes will be necessary; the Instructors will announce daily scheduling.

  • 5:30 pm Meet at Mike Wiegele Heli-Skiing Guides Haus
  • Welcome
  • Course introduction, objectives
  • Waiver and Course Administration
  • Guides meeting
  • Helicopter orientation
  • Snowcat orientation
  • Transceiver  orientation
  • Transceiver  practice & summary
  • Avalanche rescue scenario (field)
  • Crevasse rescue practice (refresher & walk through)
  • Navigation & theory
  • Guiding theory & route selection
  • Guides meeting
  • Rescue Equipment
  • Route selection (field)
  • Rescue Practice
  • Guides meeting
  • Guides meeting
  • Tree skiing lecture
  • Tree skiing route selection (field)
  • Tree well search & rescue (field)
  • Guides meeting
  • Glacier Lecture
  • Guides meeting
  • Glacier Skiing (field)
  • Crevasse rescue practice (field)
  • Guides meeting
  • Guiding near hazards lecture
  • Guides meeting
  • Guiding procedures in hazardous terrain (field)
  • Field tests (field)
  • Ski cutting (field)
  • Rescue practice (field)
  • Guides meeting
  • Ski tour preparation/mid course evaluation
  • Early departure for ski tour
  • Navigation (field)
  • Route finding (field)
  • Roped travel (field)
  • White out navigation (field)
  • Guides meeting
  • Helicopter lecture
  • Guides meeting
  • Guiding, route selection & hazard management evaluation (field)
  • Rescue simulations
  • Guides meeting
  • Overnight rescue procedures
  • Guides meeting
  • Snowboard guiding discussion
  • Avalanche rescue exams (field)
  • Rescue scenarios (field)
  • Guides meeting
  • Snow cat guiding lecture
  • Guides meeting
  • Rope rescue evaluation (field)
  • Terrain selection evaluation (field)
  • Course debrief
  • End of course dinner
  • Course evaluation questionnaire
  • Student evaluations
  • Departure 12:00 noon

Professional Ski Guide Image

A professional ski guide is a person who has obtained certification, through a formal training and apprenticeship program, such as the Canadian Ski Guide Association and/or other reputable and recognized organization of another country.

1. Professional ski guide

A young or new person who desires to become a professional ski guide must:

a) gain experience in a mountain/backcountry environment

b) work on skiing ability e.g. CSIA Level IV

c) Obtain employment as an apprentice ski guide, with a legitimate active ski guiding service operator and business to get on the job training.

The purpose and goal of this is for the person (young ski guide) to learn the “tricks of the trade” as well as the necessary skills, knowledge and experience under the supervision of a proven guide. This also gives the younger guide a chance to experience first hand effective management and leadership techniques. Through the supervisor or mentor, the younger guide can gain an appreciation for the ability to protect the environment and wildlife. The young guide must also learn the meaning of risk management and loss prevention and have a basic understanding of business concepts. This person should become an asset to the industry and the country, and always present the best image and credibility.

The basic ski guide qualifications and professional certifications criteria include:

a) CSIA level 3 or 4; takes about 3 to 5 years

b) CAA level 2; takes about 3 years

c) First Aid (CSPA or equivalent)– complete course, partake in an annual refresher course

d) CSGA level 3; takes 4 to 6 years

e) On the job training, work experience; 3 to 5 years

f) Enrolment in continuous education, training and risk management, loss prevention courses and seminars.

g) A strong positive recommendation from an active operator under whom he has apprenticed.

He/she is to be and active member of the CSGA, which is a professional organization and is governed by active operators with strong core values. The CSGA strives for high standards of excellence, has adopted a sound mission, goal and objectives as well as rules of conduct and code of ethics.

The CSGA has strong relations with the skiing and mountain safety community, internationally as well as throughout North America, for the exchange of basic safety standards and methods, systems and procedures, and new ideas.

In most cases, once a person completes the apprenticeship guiding program (approximately 4-5 years), they are likely to stay in the profession for 8-10 years or longer. Most ski guides are individualists and manage to achieve a healthy and good balance by retaining their freedom while conforming to the needs of a ski guiding service or business. They are also able to seek better innovations which might help the progress of professional ski guiding. Ski guides are also apt to complete whatever projects they begin, with the attention to detail to attain perfection.

Even if a person has completed the highest level of certification, it is no guarantee that the person will be a good guide. Egotistic and negative attitudes have a poor effect, even though the guide may be technically sound. Ensure guides backgrounds through an extensive background check: ask for the guide’s personal guiding record; how long have they been working in the business and for whom; then check the references, particularly with the owner of the operation or its manager. Is the guide a risk-taker? Does he/she take good care? Is he/she respected? Does he/she train? Keep in mind that often one is not inclined to give a poor reference; either the operator wants to get rid of that person or have them out of their area.

Ski guides are measured by their safety record, devotion to their clients and their satisfaction and professional image. They are not to be influenced by their personal ego and glamour of the position. This can jeopardize one’s career, as well as alienating the guest, when a guide shows off. Guides must serve first and always. Safety comes through good guiding ethics and principles, practicing good habits and showing good examples of leadership.

The ski guide must love the outdoors, the sport of skiing and have good people skills. As well, the guide must have an appreciation for the job, the guests and the environment. The guide must feel comfortable in the mountains; have good common sense and solid judgment.

In the spectacular rugged alpine, it is essential to have thorough knowledge, respect and experience, as well as patience, the ability to effectively communicate and dedication to learn of one is to manage the physical conditions and effectively plan and prepare systems, methods, equipment and procedures.

It is essential that a professional ski guide is able to identify a potential mountain hazard, learn the characteristics and unpredictable nature, as well apply a procedure to control, reduce, limit or avoid the exposure of a person to that potential danger. The primary goal is to avoid potentially hazardous conditions and situations rather than concentrate on rescue procedures.