The Level 3 program is designed for people who have come up through the CSGA program and have been guiding in the mechanized ski industry for at least 2 years under the direction of a Lead Guide. The focus of this program is is to prepare candidates to lead groups without supervision.
- Canadian Ski Guide Association Level 2
- Canadian Avalanche Association Level 2 or Equivalent
- Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance Level 2 or Equivalent
- Summer Glacier Skills Camp or Equivalent
- Current 80 Hour First Aid Certificate
- Employment in a Helicopter or Snow Cat skiing operation for a minimum of 2 years with at least 80 days guiding
- Recommendation from mechanized ski industry operator
LEVEL 3 COURSE DESCRIPTION
The Level 3 program is designed for people who have come through the CSGI Level 1 and Level 2 Courses and have been guiding in the Mechanized Skiing industry for at least two years under the direction of a Lead Guide. The focus of the program is to prepare candidates to Lead Guide groups without supervision.
The course focuses on the skills necessary to guide safely and supervise other guided groups through the mountain environment, this includes: terrain assessment, navigation, hazard-analysis and mountain sense, which includes judgment and decision-making. Transceiver methodology, avalanche rescue, rope handling, and crevasse rescue are some of the more technical skills covered. Finally, the course covers topics specific to the industry like mechanized ski guiding, guide’s meetings, operational guidelines, risk management, safety orientations, and field observations.
The level 3 Training and Exam programs run separately. They are not completed in the same year, this is two separate 5 day courses.
The course will be based at a mechanized backcountry ski operation. During the course we will do day trips either from a main lodge or from a remote backcountry hut. Helicopters, Snowcats or touring gear may all be utilized to access the skiing and teaching sites. Meals and accommodation are not covered in the course costs and will vary with course location.
Participants completing and passing the exam with a positive evaluation will be qualified to work as a Lead Guide in a Mechanized Backcountry Skiing Operation. Successful candidates will have met the criteria as outlined in the course content and standards sheet.
Example of Level 3 Schedule
- Afternoon meet and Greet
- Introductions, Waivers, logistics and equipment
- Overview of the Level 3 Course and Exam program
- Teaching and Homework Assignments
- Helicopter and Beacon orientation (if time permits)
Every day during the course and the exam a morning and afternoon guides meeting will be held. Candidates will be asked to prepare and facilitate the meeting, presenting weather and avalanche forecast. Students will also prepare an operations (skiing) plan based on the weather and avalanche hazard.
Candidate presentations: in order to be productive be prepared to deliver your presentation at a moment’s notice because weather and operations can be unpredictable.
Operational management Plan Project: Manage your time so that this project will be complete by day 5 at the training course evaluation.
Subject to change: This is a tentative course schedule and subject to change due weather and operational constraints.
- AM Guides’ meeting (facilitated by instructors)
- Transceiver Orientation
- Helicopter Orientation
- Heli-Ski Guiding
- Route selection
- Guiding Procedures
- PM Guides Meeting (facilitated by instructors)
- Discuss Snowpack and Stability and Hazard
- Plan ski tour for the following day
- Work on Project (from this day forward, budget your time accordingly!)
- Rope rescue techniques and standards presentation
- Ski Tour
- Terrain selection and decision making
- Route finding and guiding procedures
- Snowpack Observations
- Helicopter safety and logistics presentation
- Heli ski day
- Route selection
- Guiding Procedures
- Ski cutting
- Profiles in the Field
- Avalanche rescue scenario
- Lead Guiding Lecture
- Navigation Problem
- White Out Navigation Ski Tour
- Ski Tour (Field)
- Crevasse Rescue Exam simulation
- Beacon exam simulation
- Candidate evaluation
- Hand in Operational project
- Hand in field-book
Level 3 Examination
- Heli-ski day
- guiding procedures
- terrain selection
- lost skier
- Avalanche Scenario
- Ski Tour
- Improvised toboggan rescues
- Heli-ski day
- Terrain selection
- Contingency Plans
- Client Care
- Group Management
- Crevasse Rescue Exam
- Beacon exams
- Celebration dinner
- Course feedback (submitted before evaluation)
- Student evaluations
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.