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Frequently Asked Questions

Why a co-op?
A co-op is a business model that allows a group of people (in this case guides) to combine their resources to achieve their goals. The Certified Guides Cooperative is a great way to collectively share the costs and administrative burden that are a necessary part of being a mountain guide in the US system. This includes permit administration, management and costs; insurance; risk management; operational plans; and collective marketing. In addition to greater affordability, the co-op comprises a community of professionals with similar needs and goals. The foundational concept of the cooperative is the idea that owners control the use of these resources to benefit all its member-owners.

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

When can I join?
Now. The Certified Guides Cooperative began selling shares in January 2011, and the website is now set up for online Shareholder Signup.

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

When can I begin guiding?
You can begin guiding as soon as you are a Shareholder and have become an Active Member.

What is a Shareholder?
A Shareholder is someone who supports the mission of the Certified Guides Cooperative, signs a Shareholder Agreement, purchases a share. A Shareholder has certain privileges in the co-op (such as voting privileges), but does not have ability to guide through the Co-op or utilize the liability insurance. A Shareholder can upgrade at anytime to the Active Member status by meeting the requirements of the Active Member and purchasing an annual Active Membership. For more information please see below and refer to the Bylaws of the Cooperative.

What is an Active Member?
An Active Member is a guide who is a Shareholder who has upgraded to Active Member Status (currently priced at $300/year) and meets the co-op requirements for Active Membership. An Active Member has access to the permits and liability insurance held by the Cooperative.

What are the requirements to become an Active Member?
You must first be a Shareholder to qualify for Active Membership in the co-op. In addition you must meet the following requirements:
  • 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 holds an IFMGA credential from another country. 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."
  • Hold and maintain a current Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation ("CPR") certification or its equivalent; and
  • Hold and maintain a current Wilderness First Responder ("WFR") certification or its equivalent; and
  • Within six (6) months of becoming an Active Member, members must complete a "Leave No Trace" Trainer Course or its equivalent.
What does a share in the Certified Guides Co-op cost?
Becoming a shareholder of the CGC costs $1000. All member owners will be required to be sign a Shareholder Agreement.

Do I have to pay $1000 every year?
No. The cost of $1000 is a one-time cost which entitles you to the rights of being a Shareholder of the Certified Guides Cooperative.

Will I have to pay the entire amount of my share price up front?
No. We have three options to pay for your share on the CGC website. Two of the options are an installment plan. You need to sign a Shareholder Agreement and agree to pay the amount in full based on the terms of the installment plan. Both installment plans will automatically schedule the credit card installments.

How do I join?
It's easy! To become a Shareholder, just follow these steps, or click here for an online tutorial.
  • Visit the Home page of the co-op website and click the yellow button that says JOIN NOW, or click the Join tab in the upper right corner.
  • Next, select the Become a Shareholder option. Fill out all of the required fields and create your personal profile. You'll need to create a login name and password – in the future, this is how you will access all of the member-owner features of our new website. At the bottom click Submit.
  • You will now see the Shareholder Signup page. There are three payment options that you can choose. Pick the one that works best for you, fill in the remaining required fields, and click Process Payment on the bottom of the page.
  • You're almost done. There are two more documents that you need to download and read: a copy of the By-laws and the Shareholder Agreement. Thoroughly read all documents.
  • Fill out the Shareholder Agreement and mail it to the Certified Guides Cooperative; the address is on the form. Once we have received your signed Shareholder Agreement you will receive a Shareholder Confirmation Letter via email, confirming your membership in the co-op. Congratulations, you're now a CGC shareholder! Please note: this process may take up to two weeks, so make sure you leave enough time if you are planning to become an Active Member and guide using the co-op.
How do I become an Active Member?
Click here for a quick tutorial on becoming an Active Member using the co-op website.

What supporting documents do you need to become an Active Member?
  1. Proof of your AMGA Certification (certificate or card)
  2. WFR Card
  3. CPR Card
  4. LNT Card (you have 6 months from the time of joining to obtain this unless a permit requires otherwise)
  5. Driver's License
  6. Headshot photograph of yourself (this will go on the Co-op website)
  7. Avalanche Certificate - highest level completed - (IFMGA, Alpine, and Ski guides only)
What guidelines do I use to send these supporting documents electronically?
  1. Send in .pdf format (except for Headshot can be .jpg)
  2. Individual files for each piece of documentation
  3. Size limit of 2 MB
  4. Name the file using this format: Firstname_Lastname_Whatitis (example: Scott_Schell_WFR)
Can I pay by credit card?
Yes. Our website now allows you purchase your share, upgrade to Active Member, and take care of all your use fees using a credit card.

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 Shareholder 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 Co-op 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.

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 the cost of your Active Membership ($300).


What permits does the Co-op have?
The CGC insurance policy began on November 1, 2010. Beginning December 1, 2010, the Co-op began the permit application process with the goal of building the equivalent base of permits that had been previously held by the CGF. In addition, the Co-op has begun seeking permits in new areas in the first half of 2011. Active Members can use the Co-op liability insurance to guide on current non-permitted lands, both overseas and domestically.

For a list of current permits and examples of non-permitted lands, click here.

For a list of new permits that the Co-op will be applying for in the future, click here.

If there is a permit that you would like the Co-op to pursue please get in contact with the office!

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

What countries outside of the US can I guide in with my Active Membership?
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 by 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 Payment (and what does it cover?)
The Membership Activation Payment is $300. This annual payment covers the up-front costs of both the co-op's insurance premium and permit fees.

What is the Daily Fee for domestic use?
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.

What is the Daily Fee for international use?
The international daily guiding fee is non-scaled. All days guided will cost $25.

Does the daily fee change with the number of clients I have?
No. It's a per-day fee regardless of the number of clients. However, you must not exceed the client to guide ratio for each discipline.

What is the CGC maximum client to guide ratio?
Alpine Climbing / Ice Climbing / Multi-pitch - 1:3
Top rope climbing (rock/ice) - 1:6
Skiing - 1:5
Avalanche Courses - 1:7

How are clients charged?
Member-owners can accept payment directly from their clients for a given trip. In addition to this method, the Cooperative's 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%

Liability Insurance Details

Will the insurance coverage be sufficient for guiding in other IFMGA countries?
Yes. Under this policy, a Co-op shareholder guide can be of any nationality, reside in any country, and can guide clients from any country. Please contact the office for a copy of the current insurance policy.

What is the amount of coverage?
The liability insurance coverage meets or exceeds land management requirements to operate on local, state, federal, and most international lands. The Cooperative 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 liability insurance cover?
The liability insurance covers any Certified Guide who is an Active Member of the Certified Guides Cooperative guiding on a CGC trip.

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).

How does the Co-op 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 liability 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. The trip must be a CGC trip and the guide must register the trip with the Co-op website prior to conducting the trip.

Does the Co-op 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 trip must be a CGC trip and the guide must register the trip with the Co-op website prior to conducting the trip.

Does the insurance offer any coverage if I guide in a permit area where the Co-op 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 Co-op 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 Co-op guide is guiding outside of his/her terrain guidelines the liability insurance is null and void and the guide's membership in the Co-op may be subject to suspension and/or termination (as per the By-Laws).

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

Other Questions

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

Will the Co-op accept SPI as member owners?
Yes. An SPI can join the CGC upon review of their résumé. 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.


amga                     bradley alpinist                     Kees Brenninkmeyer


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