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.
Over the years, Fred has been guiding in the ski-mechanized industry, ski touring, ice climbing, mountaineering and rock climbing programs. He is fluent in both French and English. In 2006 Fred completed a Bachelor degree in Business Management and Development as part of the Adventure Industry Program at Thompson Rivers University.
Fred’s relationship with Yamnuska dates back to 1998, when he was enrolled in the semester program, wanting to quickly enhance his mountaineering skills. He completed the loop and has now been part of the guiding team since 2009.
Fred’s favourite place to be is hanging from a rocky face or traveling a glacier, and sharing his passion with fellow mountain travelers. Fred is a fully certified ACMG/IFMGA Mountain Guide.
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), he guides and instructs all aspect of mountaineering including avalanche safety programs. He 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.
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.
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 travelled 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. He is also now the Assistant Director of Operations 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 daughters Sierra and Kylee.
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. To test the theory that “guiding ain’t rocket science”, Carl left an aerospace PhD to come west 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. 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.
While at university, climbing adventures yielded remote first ascents on some of the East’s biggest faces, and two local guidebooks. Back then, favourite days involved a light pack, little sleep and lots of terrain. They still do. 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. He joined Yamnuska in 2000 as one of the only local Rock Guides. He has been enthusiastically sharing his addiction to the mountains and sense of humour with guests ever since. With a broad teaching background, Carl is a dedicated instructor who strives to fill each guiding day with discovery.
Besides being a guide and ACMG instructor, Carl is a paramedic and manages winter operations for a private rescue service. When not busy in the Rockies, he enjoys exploring the world’s other great ranges. He and his partner, Nadege, catch up on sleep when in Canmore.
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. Grant lives in Canmore with his wife, the world champion extreme skier Maegan Carney and their son Lincoln.
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. 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 Apprentice 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 Carney. 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 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.
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 Apprentice Alpine Certification. He is well on his way to completing his International Full Mountain Guide status.