Some logos to look out for…



It can be a bit of a minefield, understanding the mountaineering and climbing qualifications, with many acronyms to add to the confusion, so we thought it’d be handy to have a brief explanation of ‘what means what’.  This is important for you when choosing an instructor or guide, as in the UK there is nothing to stop anyone calling themselves a ‘mountain guide’ or ‘climbing instructor’ even if they have no qualifications at all.

IFMGA – International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations. This is the international governing body for Mountain Guides. Members have the highest professional qualification in climbing and mountaineering. The IFMGA makes sure that Guides from all countries in the Federation are trained and assessed to the same high level of expertise and in all the different disciplines. For more details see ifmga guide

BMG – British Mountain Guides. The professional association for Mountain Guides from the UK, and a member of the IFMGA. In order to work, Guides have to be members, and full BMG members will have the IMFGA carnet as above. Aspirant Guides and Trainee Guides have to be BMG members also, but will not yet have an IFMGA badge. Aspirant Guides have completed all the UK rock climbing and ice climbing assessments and have received their Alpine training, Trainee Guides will have just completed the UK rock climbing / summer mountaineering exams. For more details see british mountain guides

AMI – Association of Mountaineering Instructors.  AMI is the representative body for those who hold the WMCI and MCI (see below). It is not compulsory that holders of the award are members, but many are, so membership is a guarantee of qualification up to at least MCI level. For more detail see AMI

MIC – The Mountaineering Instructors Community. The MIC is a collaboration of independent climbing instructors who hold the WMCI and have additional breadth to their personal climbing and instructional experience. For more details see mic

MT – Mountain Training. Mountain Training is the collection of awarding bodies for skills courses and qualifications listed below,  in mountain walking, climbing and mountaineering, in the UK and Ireland. For more details see MT

WMCI – Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor. This is a qualification for instructing mountaineering and rock climbing, in winter or summer, in the UK & Ireland only.  Holders of the WMCI will have already completed ML, WML and MCI. (Until 2018 this qualification was called the Mountaineering Instructor’s Certificate – MIC) For more details see wmci

MCI – Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor.  This is an award for instructing all aspects of single and multi pitch summer rock climbing and scrambling in the UK & Ireland . Holders of this will have already completed summer ML. (Until 2018 this qualification was called the Mountaineering Intructor’s Award -MIA).  For more details see MCI 

RCDI – Rock Climbing Development instructor.  This is a UK instructor qualification for rock climbing on single pitch trad and sport crags, including teaching leading, and also teaching at indoor and outdoor bouldering venues, climbing walls and towers .For more details see RCDI

RCI – Rock Climbing Instructor.  This a UK instructor qualification, for taking groups rock climbing, abseiling and bouldering on single pitch cliffs and indoor walls”. It used to be called the Single Pitch Award or SPA. For more details see RCI

ML – Mountain Leader. This is the standard UK qualification for taking people mountain walking in the UK & Ireland, on terrain where a rope is not needed. For winter mountain walking the relevant qualification is the Winter Mountain Leader (WML), and would include use of crampons and ice axe and sometimes a rope. For more details see ML and WML.

MTA – Mountain Training Association. The MTA is the support & development branch of Mountain Training, providing members with extra support and CPD opportunities. . For more details see MTA