Guide Certification, Training & Qualities
Yamnuska guides and instructors are certified as described below. In addition to certification, which only relates to a guide’s technical competence, they need many other skills and qualities. They need to be endowed with patience, empathy, and a sense of humour. They must also be effective communicators and great coaches.
Yamnuska guides and instructors are certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) or other member associations of the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA) of which the ACMG is a member. Yamnuska guides and instructors operate within the certification and terrain guidelines of the ACMG. They are also certified in Wilderness First Aid and in Avalanche Safety. In addition, guide and instructor certification must meet the standards dictated by the various Land Managers who license our operations. Where jurisdictional standards are low (British Columbia) Yamnuska follows the higher ACMG standards.
Jason began climbing at the ripe age of 13 and hasn’t really looked back since. His love for climbing has taken him to beautiful spots all over the world – Australia, France, Italy, Switzerland, Mexico, and climbing areas across the U.S. and Canada. But still he thinks: “the Rocky Mountains are the best, just so much variety in all seasons, so much space and untouched wilderness, so many amazing climbs and mountains.” Though rock climbing is his first love and true talent, in High School he began ice climbing and went on to climb many of the Bow Valley test-pieces. Jason has been guiding with Yamnuska since 2007 and has become known for his patient and clear teaching style, and his approachable, friendly personality. “I love my job and am passionate about giving my guests 100% of my energy. Climbing has given me so much, and as a guide my goal is to show my guests how much the mountains, wilderness and climbing can give them. It is a real pleasure to see their eyes opened, to see them learn something new and do things that they never thought possible.” An ACMG Alpine Guide and Assistant Ski Guide, Jason is on the path to becoming a fully-certified IFMGA Mountain Guide.
James is something of a legend in guiding circles. One of the original “Yam” guides, he was involved in its founding and has been involved in the founding of the company and has been an active guide and instructor since the late ’70s. James was a member of the small group of young climbers that put ice climbing and the Canadian Rockies on the map in the ’70s and early ’80s. He participated in many seminal first ascents including the first free ascent of Nemesis. He participated in the successful ascent of the W. Ridge of Everest in 1986 and made the first ascent of the S. Face of Gangapurna in ’81. He has also climbed extensively in Peru. To this day James is an active high-end climber. James is an fully certified international Mountain Guide (IFMGA) and holds Level 3 certification with the Canadian Avalanche Association. He guides and instructs all aspect of mountaineering including avalanche safety programs. James obviously derives great enjoyment from being in the mountains as his clients can attest. He lives in Canmore with his wife Leslie and son Simon.
Merrie-Beth Board(MB) has been exploring and working in the Canadian west since she came from small town Ontario at 19 years old. A drive and passion for vertical adventures and places less traveled lead her to completing the ACMG/IFMGA Mountain Guide certification. MB has guided in Chile, Alaska, New Zealand and been working with Yamnuska over the past 10 years. Whether teaching mountain skills, guiding technical peaks on foot or skis, ice or multi-pitch rock climbing, MB is most at home in the mountains and enjoys sharing the local ranges with everyone she meets.
Adam grew up in Thunder Bay, spending most winter weekends at the amazing 225 metre local ski hill and in the summer trying to rock climb in running shoes at the local bluffs. He started his lifelong guiding career in Ontario as a sea kayak, whitewater canoe and rock climbing guide, and has expanded his repertoire to include hiking, backpacking, ski touring, heli-skiing, via ferrata and mountain rescue. Adam has followed his passions around the world, bicycle touring in New Zealand, paddling the Northwest Territory’s South Nahanni River, thru-hiking the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, sea kayaking in Belize, surfing and climbing volcanoes in Mexico, mountaineering in Alaska and climbing all over Canada and the US.
Adam has spent 6 years guiding and instructing ski touring, avalanche courses, rock climbing, hiking and backpacking for Yamnuska. He is an ACMG Ski, Hiking and Apprentice Rock Guide and lives in Canmore with his wife Joanna and their two kids.
Paul is Yamnuska’s Program Director and a fully certified international mountain guide originally from the UK. He has been active in the outdoors for over 20 years, during which he has climbed and skied extensively in all corners of the Alps, as well as the Himalayas, Norway, North America, Canada and Alaska. For more than a decade Paul delivered and managed all aspects of climbing, mountaineering and back country ski courses for the British Armed Forces, which ranged from a variety of introductory programs to training and assessment courses at all levels. More recently Paul was the Director of Operations for the Tri Services Alpine Training Centre, but after living in the Alps for 5 years he decided to move to Canada. He instantly decided he wasn’t going back, although he has said he must return at some point to climb 2 more routes in order to complete the 6 classic north faces of the Alps.
After realizing that post-secondary education might not be his cup of tea, Darcy opted for a job at Nelson’s White Water Ski Resort, and it was here that he realized he wanted a career surrounded by the elements and the beauty of the mountains. He quickly registered in Yamnuska’s three month semester program in 1994 to speed up the process of becoming guide, and hasn’t looked back. He has been an ACMG ski guide since 2000 and feels fortunate to have gotten to work throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Europe, and Japan meeting wonderful people and skiing great snow
Brad was born in Calgary and grew up near Cochrane within view of the Eastern slopes of the Rockies. He began climbing and backcountry skiing while attending the University of Calgary and didn’t last long at a ‘real’ job before turning his efforts to becoming proficient in the mountains and training for guides’ exams. Having climbed extensively throughout Western Canada and North America, he is excited to offer you a safe and friendly environment in which to learn, summit and achieve your dreams! Brad is an ACMG-certified apprentice alpine guide and CSIA-certified ski instructor; he has been guiding since 2011. When he’s not in the mountains he lives in Calgary with his toddler, Ivy.
Wow! I’ve been climbing for over 20 years… has it been that long? My vertical addiction has taken me around the world in search of rock, ice and snow. Travel allows me to climb with as little distraction as possible, no interference with “life” and its distractions. In climbing it has always been my end goal to experience “flow” during my climbing practice, being totally absorbed in the moment, fully present! Professionally, I find that guiding allows me to follow my passion. I focus 100% on my guests and their experience. My professional goal is to facilitate experience for my guests, increase enjoyment and manage risk with the highest standard in the industry. Activities such as rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, alpine climbing, expedition climbing and mixed climbing can take me anywhere. My permanent base camp is in Canmore, Alberta but I am motivated to climb anywhere on the globe. I have been working for with Yamnuska for five seasons and in partnership with Yamnuska I’m looking to promote Canadian private guiding. The future: As an ACMG full alpine guide I am motivated to lead high altitude peaks and overseas climbing trips. In Canada, I would like to help my guests explore the possibilities for new climbing challenges and help them achieve and surpass their goals.
Jesse De Montigny
Jesse moved to the Bow Valley in 1998 to take part in Yamnuska’s three month Mountain Skills Semester program. Using this as a springboard for his skills development, he has traveled all over the world to climb and ski and has pursued his passion to become an internationally certified Mountain Guide through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and holds Level 3 certification with the Canadian Avalanche Association. He now also acts as an examiner with the Canadian Mountain and Ski Guide Program to help others obtain their certification. Jesse is the Managing Director for Yamnuska and uses his skills both in the field and in the office to provide you with the best mountain experience possible. Some of Jesse’s personal mountain achievements have included: a 175km ski tour through the spine of the Canadian Rockies from Jasper to the Columbia Icefields, climbing the north face of Mt Temple, and climbing 5.12+ routes around the world. Some of Jesse’s favorite personal trips include: rock climbing in Thailand, Greece and Mexico, lodge-based ski touring in the Selkirk Mountains and ice climbing in the best ice climbing area on the planet… the Canadian Rockies! Jesse lives in Canmore with his wife Christine and 3 children.
From the moment Jean had his first rock-climbing lesson, climbing became his passion. Now an accomplished climber and guide Jean was born in the quiet town of Klaipeda, Lithuania and relocated to Newfoundland, Canada in 1996. It was there in 1998 that Jean visited St. John’s first indoor rock-climbing gym and soon after was tying into the lead lines on the beautiful sea cliffs of Newfoundland. Very quickly climbing became his life – rock climbing, bouldering and ice climbing all had his attention and soon after he quit university to pursue climbing full-time. His love of climbing eventually brought him to the west coast where he now calls Canmore his home
Jean has climbed many of North America’s classic climbing areas. From the cool cliffs of Newfoundland to the busy rocks of Ontario, to the fiery Mexican spires, the granite monoliths of California to the rock face amidst the scorching deserts of Jordan and now the mountains and cliffs of the Rockies and the Coast Mountains of Canada
To Jean, climbing is a metaphor for life. Every day, like every climb, is different and the experience you have depends on the route you choose and the moves you make. The key to an interesting life is to continue to challenge yourself and to enjoy. Whether you climb an old favourite savoring the experience for what it is or you challenge yourself with a new route, success comes from always being engaged with the rock you are climbing on, the people around you, and learning from both.
In addition to guiding Jean is a photographer and a filmmaker with two feature documentary films under his belt and many ideas in his pocket
Richard is perhaps our most cosmopolitan guide. An Australian/Canadian resident in Germany, Richard spends his northern summers guiding for Yamnuska in the Canadian Rockies. Richard is another guide who works extremely hard for guests and is consequently in much demand. Richard has been instructing rock and alpine mountaineering for Yamnuska for 12 years. His primary residence is near Munich in Germany though you may also find him guiding in New Zealand from time to time. Richard is an Assistant Alpine Guide.
Growing up scrambling limestone in Eastern Canada, Carl’s fascination with the Rockies was revealed early on – at 12, while on family vacation, he attempted a spontaneous solo crossing of the Columbia Glacier. The escape failed, but he has enjoyed surprising people in the mountains ever since. While at university, climbing adventures yielded remote first ascents on some of the East’s biggest faces. In 1997, wanting a change, he decided to test the notion that “guiding ain’t rocket science”, and left an aerospace PhD to come to the Rocky Mountains and get a real job. Settling in Canmore, he joined Yam in 2000. Besides being one of our senior guides and an ACMG instructor, he is also a paramedic with 10 years of mountain rescue experience. With a broad teaching background, Carl is a dedicated instructor who strives to fill each guiding day with discovery. When not busy sharing his sense of humour and passion for the Rockies, Carl enjoys exploring the world’s other great ranges and has organized climbs on 6 continents. Recent trips include Patagonia’s Cerro Torre, high altitude volcanoes in Ecuador and East Africa, and the granite big walls of Madagascar’s Tsaranoro.
Growing up in Ontario my childhood revolved around seeking adventure, whether it was in the forest behind my house or the lake and rivers surrounding my town. I wanted to find new places, make discoveries and get outside. As I found myself in the Rocky Mountains this desire to discover only strengthened inside me. Climbing soon became an addiction, a daily pursuit that became the main focus. It seemed like I just couldn’t get enough of it! This appetite for adventure was the driving force for me to develop new skills like ice climbing and skiing. Over the years I have climbed throughout North America, Australia and Asia but the Rockies has always been my home base.
Alex is an ACMG Apprentice Alpine Guide and is pursuing his Apprentice Ski Guide certification this winter. His sites are set on becoming a Full Mountain Guide.
For my second birthday I got an old pair of wooden skies which I spent every waking moment skiing around the living room with. I guess that was to be expected with a mother who raced for Canada. Growing up in a small town in BC I turned to the mountains at 16 with my older brother looking for more adventures. I grew fond of not only being out there but teaching and taking others with me to experience these great places. I have since visited Baffin Island, and Alaska as I worked my way through the guiding stream. I am going into my 4th season with Yamnuska and look forward to sharing my experiences with you! James is a fully certified ACMG/IFMGA Mountain Guide.
Grant is an internationally certified Mountain Guide who was born and raised in the Yukon Territory. For several years, Grant lived above the Arctic Circle and he spent most of his youth in the mountains of northern Canada. He began skiing in 1972 and climbing in 1980. In 1979 he was named Yukon’s “Athlete of the Year” for his performances in Cross Country Skiing, Table Tennis and Wrestling. Grant moved to Alberta in 1997. Since then, he has numerous first ascents to his credit such as “Cineplex” (M9) and “Rocky Mountain Horror Show” (M11+). He has climbed several of the world’s most difficult mixed climbs, including “Musashi” (M12). Internationally, Grant has enjoyed guiding some of the world’s most beautiful mountains including Ama Dablam, Lobuche, Imja Tse and Aconcagua. Bilingual in English and French, Grant worked as a high school teacher before discovering his love of guiding. He has a calm, easy-going manner, and gets deep satisfaction out of helping people attain their dreams, whether it be a beginner taking their first steps on a glacier or as an examiner on the Canadian Mountain and Ski Guide Program. Grant lives in Canmore with his wife, a world champion extreme skier Maegan Carney and their son Lincoln.
Francisco is from Santiago, Chile where he began to climb at an early age accomplishing numerous first ascents. At 18 he was invited on a climbing trip to the Alps where his passion for the mountains was cemented. He began his guiding career leading mountaineering trips to Aconcagua and trekking trips to Patagonia and Atacama in South America and in 2004 he received his UIAGM/IFMGA in France. Since then he has continued to climb, guide and instruct in the Andes, Alps, Rockies and Himalayas. Francisco has also been very involved with snow safety, working with ski patrols in Chile, Switzerland, Italy and Canada, as well as consulting on winter safety for various mining operations. In 2006 he began semiannual trips to Canada to experience all the Canadian Rockies have to offer and now resides full time with his wife in Canmore. Whether it is mountaineering expeditions, climbing, skiing, trekking or outdoor education courses Francisco is excited about sharing the outdoors with guests.
Languages: Spanish, English, Italian and French
Born and raised in Calgary, Jesse Petersen started rock climbing in gyms at the age of 16. Shortly after that he spent a year in Squamish, BC. This is where he truly developed a passion for climbing and skiing. That passion has grown into a life style, which has taken him to many corners of the globe in search of the next big mountain adventure. Now Jesse has lived in Canmore, AB for almost 10 years, and is proud to call the Rocky Mountains home. Jesse is an ACMG Alpine Guide. He has climbed on 4 continents, many different mountain ranges, and reached altitudes of 19,000 feet. But most of all, he is thankful for the friends he has met along the way. What Jesse loves the most about guiding is sharing his passion for mountain sports with his clients.
Lisa works for Yamnuska both in the summer and winter on everything from avalanche courses, ski mountaineering weeks, to backpacking trips! While completing her Master’s of Science Degree at the University of Alberta, Lisa began Ski Patrolling and working as an Avalanche Forecaster at Mt. Norquay in Banff, AB. She then moved on to work with BC’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure as an Avalanche Technician in the North Cascades. Over the last few years, Lisa has also worked her way through the Thompson Rivers University courses to become an ACMG certified Hiking and Ski Guide. Lisa also spends several weeks of the winter in the Cariboos working as a heli-ski guide. Lisa is a Professional Member of the Canadian Avalanche Association and a member of the CAA’s Complaint and Investigation Committee, and also chairs the ACMG’s Communication Committee. Lisa lives in Canmore, AB where you can find her skiing, biking, climbing, hiking, you name it, she’s out there doing it! Her passion for the mountains is infectious, and she makes it her goal to share the joy the mountains bring with everyone.
Erica Roles is a Ski Guide and Apprentice Alpine Guide certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. Erica has been working as an ACMG guide since 2005. Originally from the UK, she spent much of her childhood in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. She moved to Canada with her family in 1998 and fell in love with the mountains of Western Canada. Initially she began her ski career as a Pro Ski Patroller at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Wanting to share her passion for the mountains with other people led her to a career in guiding. Erica now splits her time between guiding, playing in the mountains with friends, and hanging out with her daughter Grace.
Nick Sharpe is another import from the UK, moving to Canada in 2002. He began rock climbing and mountaineering in his native Lake District in NW England. At 16 he joined the Royal Air Force and soon after discovered and joined the RAF Mountain Rescue Service. A 22 year association with this Service allowed Nick to hone his mountaineering and instructional skills leading up to the running of a 36- man rescue team and eventual post as the Chief Instructor for the RAF Mountain Rescue Service. Throughout the 80’s early 90’s Nick was an extremely active climber surprising the locals with on-sight ascents of some of the leading climbs of the day, both in summer and winter. He has many European Alpine seasons under his belt and has climbed around the world. Highlights include India in ’86 (Shivling 2nd ascent East Ridge), Norway (Troll Wall), Nepal in ’98 (SW ridge Ama Dablam) and Mt McKinley in ’89. Nick was also a team member to successful expeditions to Diran in ’92 and the North Ridge of Everest in ’01. Nick trained and certified in the UK and Europe with the British Mountain Guides attaining the coveted IFMGA Mountain Guides Carnet. Now resident in Canmore and a member of the ACMG, Nick actively climbs and guides year round. Nick is also enjoying introducing his two boys Ben and Alex to their vast Canadian playground.
Chhering Dorjee Sherpa was born in a remote mountain village of Nepal, at an elevation of 4200m. He moved to Kathmandu at the age of nine to attend school. At the age of seventeen, Chhering began his career in the mountains as a kitchen boy for an expedition to Mt. Shisapangma (8011m). He successfully summited Mt. Everest for the first time in 2008, at the age of 19, as a climbing sherpa. Cherring has summited Mt. Everest seven times, all through the Khumbu Icefall, south side route. After working as a climbing sherpa for a few years, he got the chance to lead an Everest Expedition in autumn 2010, successfully recording the first Autumn ascent of Mt. Everest in 10 years. Cherring has also successfully led and summited three expeditions to Mt. Manasalu (8163m) and two to the summit of Mt.Cho-Oyu (8201m) within three days without the use of oxygen. He has done numerous summits of other peaks in Nepal such as Island Peak, Lobuche, Mera, Parchamo, Gyajikhang, Pisang, and Chulu East. Besides the Himalaya, Chhering has also been guiding in North and South America where he guided two successful summits of Aconcagua, Denali, Mt. Rainier, and many peaks in the Canadian Rockies.
At the age of 23, in 2013, Cherring became the youngest certified IFMGA/UIAGM Mountain Guide from Nepal. He is also a certified mountaineering instructor in Nepal. Chhering began working with Yamnuska during a 2012 expedition in Nepal where he worked together with Dave Stark on the ‘True Patriot Love Expedition’ for Canadian wounded warriors and civilians. His first visit to Canada was in 2014 under sponsorship from Yamnuska and the John Clarkson family. During the earthquake in Nepal, Cherring lost his family home but he and his family all survived. He has since settled in Canmore with his family and now works full time with Yamnuska.
Originally from Taiwan, Larry started to rock climb and explore the mountains in 2000. In 2007, Larry traveled to Canada and took Yamnuska’s three month Mountain Skills Semester program. This trip opened his eyes and changed his life. Glaciated peaks, big rock walls, and the powder snow completely stole his heart. He soon decided to move to Canada to pursue a mountain life. Larry is now an ACMG Apprentice Alpine Guide and loves nothing more than taking every moment to explore the mountains with his guests and friends. Larry now calls Canmore home but whenever he is free from work, he enjoys travelling around the world to find new climbing destinations.
Originally from Montreal QC, Olivia’s love for the outdoors began when she put on her skis at the age of 6. She was part of the Rod Roy ski school which took her to numerous ski hills inspiring her desire to always see new places. While at McGill University she started ice climbing in the winters and raft guiding in the summers. It was 5 years later that she came to the Canadian Rockies to raft guide and climb the peaks of her dreams. She took an Intro to Mountaineering course with Yamnuska and never turned back. Since her arrival in the West, she has guided on rivers across BC and Alaska, she has guided hikes and treks around the Rockies and interior ranges of BC and ski guides in the winter months. “What captured me was not only the beauty and love for the mountains that I have found but the peace that it brings me and the smiles it brings to those around me. I continue guiding to share that love and bring out the ‘down to earth’ side in people. Out there we are all on the same playing field.” She has also climbed peaks in South and Central America and India. Olivia is an ACMG Hiking Guide and Assistant Ski Guide.
Dave Stark has been instructing and guiding in the mountains of Western Canada since 1981. His climbing resume spans the globe with climbing and mountaineering experience on five continents. He has guided groups on high alpine peaks in Asia, South America, Antarctica and North America. As the Director of Operations at Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, Dave is in charge of the guides and all aspects of the field programming. In addition to his supervisory and training duties he still actively guides and stays current with all technical facets of Mountain Guiding. He has written curriculum and evolved programs from ideas into full scale operations. He directed the Mountain Skills Semester at Yamnuska for over ten years. He has coordinated mountain safety crews and rigging staff on many film projects. He helped develop the curriculum for CAC Avalanche Skills Training Courses and has been teaching avalanche awareness courses for the past thirty years. Dave’s primary focus with Yamnuska, involves education, technical training, safety systems and assessment of risk. His specialty is providing maximum benefit in programming and skills learning. Dave is a fully certified International Mountain Guide and holds Level 3 certification with the Canadian Avalanche Association
Growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, Darren started gym climbing at 17 years old and quickly progressed to the mountains. Soon after, Darren moved to Canmore and started climbing full-time for himself. Travelling all over North America, he has climbed classic alpine routes in the Sierra’s, developed new routes in Alaska as well as extensively in his home range, the Canadian Rockies.
Darren started his ACMG rock guide exam in Spring of 2011 and has since achieved his Alpine Certification. He is well on his way to completing his International Full Mountain Guide status.