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Frequently Asked Questions

Why a co-op?
A co-op is a business model that allows a group of people (guides) to combine their resources to achieve their goals. Joining a co-op is a great way to collectively share the costs of running a business; in our case: permit management and costs, insurance, risk management, operational plans, collective marketing, and many other aspects of running a small guiding service. In addition to the greater affordability, the co-op gives the member a sense of community. The foundation of the cooperative is the idea that owners control the use of these resources to benefit all users of the co-op.

What does a share in the Certified Guides Co-op cost?
A share of the CGC costs $1000. All member owners will be required to be sign a Membership Agreement.

When can I join?
Now. The CGC began selling shares in January 2011.

When can I begin guiding?
The CGC is prepared to begin non-permitted land guiding in the first week of February 2011. Guides will be able to guide on CGC permit holdings by March 1st, 2011 – possibly sooner.

How do I join?
Visit the CGC website and download a copy of the By-laws and the Membership Agreement. Thoroughly read both documents. Fill out the Membership Agreement and mail it - along with your check for the share - to the CGC address on the form. You must sign a membership agreement and agree to pay the amount in full prior to working on the CGC policy.

Will I have to pay the entire amount of my share price up front?
Yes. Options may exist for paying on an installment plan; however, the total cost of the share may be subject to a service fee similar to that of a credit card. You must sign a Membership Agreement and agree to pay the amount in full based on the terms of the installment plan. Installment plans are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Who can join?
Any guide who holds and maintains their membership in good standing in the AMGA or any IFMGA member country.

What are the membership levels?
There are two classes of members: General Members and Active Members.

What is a General Member?
A General Member is someone who supports the mission of the CGC, signs a Membership Agreement, purchases a share, but who has not upgraded to Active Member status. A General Member has certain privileges in the co-op such as voting privileges on the BoD, but does not have ability to guide on the CGC permits and insurance. A General Member can upgrade at anytime to the Active Member status by meeting the requirements of the Active Member and purchasing an annual Active Membership.

What is an Active Member?
An Active Member is a guide who meets the General Member criteria, purchases the Annual Insurance (currently priced at $300/year) and:

Holds and maintains a current AMGA certification in any one or more of the disciplines of Rock Instructor, Rock Guide, Alpine Guide, or Ski Mountaineering Guide, or is credentialed by the IFMGA. AMGA Single Pitch Instructors ("SPI") are eligible to become Active Members if they have fulfilled the AMGA's requirements for becoming SPI "Assistant Program Providers."

Additionally, all Active Members must:
  1. Hold and maintain a current Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation ("CPR") certification or its equivalent; and
  2. Hold and maintain a current Wilderness First Responder ("WFR") certification or its equivalent; and
  3. Within six (6) months of becoming an Active Member, members must complete a "Leave No Trace" Trainer Course or its equivalent.
Can I pay by credit card?
Yes. However, we prefer that you pay by check to save the co-op the high merchant fees associated with credit card payments.

Can I sell my share?
Yes, you can sell your share(s) at anytime. However, you must sell them back to the Cooperative. As soon as your share is purchased by a new shareholder, you will receive either the book value of the share (total equity of the Co-op/the number of shares) or the purchase price of the share, whichever is less. As per the Membership Agreement, the current share price is $1000, of which $250 is non-refundable. Section 3.4 of the CGC By-laws defines voluntary membership termination.

What is a Supporting Certificate?
The Supporting Certificate is a great way to support the mission of the Certified Guides Cooperative without the obligations of ownership. Through the purchase of a Supporting Certificate, any individual, group or business no matter where they're located can help support credential based access. Certificates can be purchased in $100 increments and may be applied towards the conversion of a regular share at any time.

What benefits do I gain from holding a Supporting Certificate?
You show that you are a supporter of credential-based access and that you support moving toward providing IFMGA reciprocity. You will receive the quarterly CGC Newsletter and your name will be listed on the CGC website. You do not, however, gain voting rights in the Organization or use of the permits and insurance.

Why is it important to sign a Declaration of Intent?
A declaration of intent shows that you support the idea of credential-based access and that you intend to purchase a share in CGC. This is a non-binding agreement, but shows a commitment to the future of guiding in the US.

Where does the money from my share purchase go?
Initially, the money from your share will be used for start-up costs. As the organization gains membership and begins to take in money from guides working in the field, the share costs will be used as equity to back the organization.

What is the extent of my liability as a shareholder in a co-op?
Washington law provides that shareholders shall not be liable for debts of the Cooperative. Your liability is limited to your $1,000 investment and your share of the insurance fee.


What permits does the Co-op have?
The CGC insurance policy began on November 1, 2010. Beginning December 1, 2010, the Co-op will begin the permit application process with the goal of building the equivalent base of permits that have been previously held by the CGF. In addition, the Co-op will begin seeking permits in the new areas in the first half of 2011. See below for a short list of permits:

Current non-permitted lands, such as:
Potrero Chico, Mexico


Many areas in South America and Asia

Mt. Erie – Washington

Lake City Ice Park

And, any other areas that do not require a permit

Permits currently held and operational:
North Cascades National Park

Smith Rock State Park

Moab BLM

Indian Creek BLM

Banff National Park, Canada

Yoho National Park, Canada

Kootenay National Park, Canada

Mt. Revelstoke, Canada

Glacier National Park, Canada

White Mountain National Forest, NH

Boulder Open Space (the Flatirons)

Eldorado Canyon State Park

Washington State Parks

Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado

Submitted permits:
Black Canyon, CO

Seneca Rocks (Mongahela National Forest)

New River Gorge

Devils Tower National Park

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Mt. Baker, WA

Denali National Park, AK

Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska

Valdez (four areas: BLM, National Forest Service, AK state lands,

AK State Park Lands)

Permit applications in process:
Wind River, WY

The Gunks

Vermont State Parks

Adirondack National Forest, NY

Gunnison BLM, CO

Mt. Erie, WA

Joshua Tree National Park

Dream List of Permits: this is the list of places the CGC hopes to gain access through lobbying and cooperation with AMGA for the long term:
Rocky Mountain National Park


For a complete list of our permits check out the upcoming permit page here. If there is a permit that you would like the CGC to pursue please get in contact with the CGC office.

What if permits are not required where I want to guide?
The CGC insurance policy covers guides on non-permitted lands.

What countries outside of the US can I guide in with my CGC ownership?
You can guide in most IFMGA countries, South American Countries, Himalaya, and several locations in Canada. Note that you must be sure to research and abide the rules governing guiding in the country in which you are working. Some countries may require the IFMGA credential, some may include work within your certified discipline, and some countries may have no requirements for guiding.

What is the Membership Activation (and what does it cover?)
The Membership Activation is $300 and it changes your membership level from 'General to Active'. This annual Membership Application pays the up-front costs of our insurance premium.

What is the Daily Fee?
The daily guiding fee is scaled such that the more you guide the less it costs. For 0-10 days the cost is $70/day, days 11-20 is $60/day, days 21-50 $50/day, and days above 51 is $25/day. This pays for all other costs of running the organization which include: administration of the permits and the permit application fees, staff, the CGC website, marketing, etc.

How are clients charged?
Member-owners can accept payment directly from their clients for a given trip. In addition to this method, the CGC website is being set up to allow clients to pay the guides through the CGC.

What kind of percentage of this can I expect to take home?
You decide what rate you charge for your trips; the costs of using the CGC are the insurance costs (your Annual, assessed over a year) and your daily costs. How much you take home will depend on the rate you are charging and how many days you are guiding using the CGC. Here are a few examples:
Case 1: Guiding rock climbing at 2:1 and $350 per day gross income. If you guide 10 days in the year, the use of the CGC permits (insurance and daily charges) will account for 29% of your daily gross income. If you guide 5 days in the year, the use of the CGC permits will account for 37% of your daily gross income.

Case 2: Guiding ski touring at a 4:1 and $500 per day gross income. If you guide only 10 days in the year, the use of the CGC will account for 20% of your daily gross income. If you guide 5 days in the year, the use of the CGC permits will account for 26% of your daily gross income.

Case 3: Guiding at a 3:1 ratio for a 6 day Haute Route, with a $525 gross daily income, the costs of using the CGC will account for 23% of your daily gross income.
Here is how you calculate your take-home:

(Gross Income x Number of Days) = Earnings

($70 x Number of Days less 10 or less) + ($60 x Number of Days 11 – 20) + ($50 x Number of Days 21 – 50) = Cost of CGC

Costs/Earnings = % of Daily Gross Income

Example: $300 per day gross income at 10 days annually

($300 x 10) = $3000 (Earnings)

($70 x 10) = $700 (Cost)

$700/$3000 = 33%

Will the amount of insurance coverage be sufficient for guiding in other IFMGA countries?
Yes, the CGC insurance coverage is up to 2 million per occurrence and 3 million aggregate. Under this policy, a CGC shareholder guide can be of any nationality, reside in any country, and can guide clients from any country. Please contact the CGC office for a copy of the current insurance policy. The CGC has the option to increase the amount of coverage (per occurrence and aggregate) as our membership grows. At present, the policy also covers the use of snowmobiles while guiding or accessing terrain, and has been expanded to cover the guiding of minors to a minimum age of 8 years old (with parent/guardian consent).

What happens to the CGC if a guide has an accident?
The CGC insurance is set up to cover multiple incidents with a maximum of two million dollars per incident to a total of three million dollars. As the Co-op grows in membership it is possible to raise the per incident and aggregate coverage to suit the needs of the membership.

Insurance Details

What is the amount of coverage?
The CGC liability insurance coverage meets or exceeds land management requirements to operate on local, state, federal, and most international lands. The CGC has the option to increase the amount of coverage (per occurrence and aggregate) as our membership grows. For details on our policy, please contact the CGC office.

Who does the insurance cover?
The CGC covers any Certified Guide who is an Active Member of the Certified Guides Cooperative.

Does the policy cover the use of snowmobiles?
Yes. At present, the policy covers the use of snowmobiles to access guiding terrain.

What is the elevation limit on the policy?
The present policy covers peaks up to 7000 meters.

Does the policy cover children?
Yes. It has been expanded to cover the guiding of minors to a minimum age of 8 years old (with parent/guardian consent).

Does the client need to sign a Helmet Waiver?
For trips where helmets are not commonly worn (such as in ski touring), a refusal of protective headgear clause will be built into the new CGC Waiver. We are currently streamlining the waiver to make it possible to have a single client waiver. Once we have approval from the underwriters, we will be able to use our new form.

How does the CGC insurance work for international (non-US based) guides?
A foreign IFMGA is only covered while guiding within the US. The policy covers claims arising out of foreign operations, as long as the claim is brought in a U.S. court.

Does the insurance work for AMGA Certified Guides guiding on foreign lands?
Yes. The CGC insurance works for a US-based AMGA Certified Guide when guiding internationally. The policy covers claims arising out of foreign operations, as long as the claim is brought in a U.S. court.

Does the CGC insurance policy allow for guiding in lands where formalized permits do not exist?
Yes. Our policy allows guiding in this situation. However, the guide must confirm with the land managers/owners and receive approval prior conducting commercial guiding on the land. The guide must also register the trip with the CGC website prior to conducting the trip.

Does the insurance offer any coverage if I guide in a permit area where the CGC does not hold a permit?
Guiding without permits invalidates the insurance policy and the guide's membership in the CGC may be subject to suspension and/or termination (as per the By-Laws). In addition to the loss of guiding privileges with the CGC, the guide may be subject to local and federal laws pertaining to illegal guiding.

Can I use the insurance when working on non-CGC permit? For example, when a guide needs his/her own insurance while hired for a specific contract?
In general, CGC insurance is only valid in areas where the CGC holds the permit, or in areas where permits are not required. The insurance may be able to be used for certain third party situations, but it is on a case-by-case basis, must be run as a CGC trip, and is subject to certain fees.

What happens when I guide outside of my terrain guidelines?
If a CGC guide is guiding outside of his/her terrain guidelines the CGC insurance is null and void and the guide's membership in the CGC may be subject to suspension and/or termination (as per the By-Laws).

Does the Cooperative have Directors and Officers Insurance?
The CGC BoD is actively pursuing a D&O policy.

Payment and Numbers

Will Guides be responsible for taking payment or is the CGC responsible for collecting payment as a condition of insurance/permits?
Member-owners can accept payment directly from their clients for a given trip.

Is the CGC member/owner covered by workman's comp L&I or a disability policy?
Not presently. Our one year plan is to utilize our collectivism as a co-op to include a such a policy for the benefit of our members.

Other Questions?

Will there be additional resources for member/owners?
The CGC will be a resource for guides above and beyond providing insurance and permits for guides. Other benefits include information sharing about guiding opportunities, marketing for credentialed guiding, and collective buying power for benefits such as a worker's comp policy. Other individual marketing outside CGC newsletters and website will be up to the individual guide.

Will the CGC accept SPI as member owners?
Yes. An SPI can join the CGC upon review of their resumé. The minimum standard will be the criteria to become an SPI Program Assistant Provider. Read the guidelines below that come from the AMGA website:
  1. A current AMGA Member.
  2. A current AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor, Rock Instructor or Rock Guide. We are looking for candidates that received exceptional results on their AMGA Examination.
  3. Have a Logbook/Carnet showing an absolute minimum of 200 days of work experience specifically in the single pitch environment instructing single pitch climbing. Candidates that have a resume that clearly shows they have way in excess of the minimum 200 days do not need to submit a daily logbook/carnet.
  4. Have a resume that reflects you have an extensive teaching and instructing background. Candidates must show they have many years experience delivering related curriculum. Candidates that have worked for organizations such as: Outward Bound, NOLS, or other outdoor experiential education organizations, Universities, Colleges or Schools as faculty as adjunct faculty or hold a Diploma or Degree in experiential education, wilderness leadership or similar fields are looked favorably upon.
  5. Have access to a computer and have the ability to write and submit course reports and participant evaluations via email.


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