Member of IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV

Published on March 7, 2024


The Aspirant Guide Course, offered by the Nepal National Mountain Guide Association (NNMGA), stands as a transformative journey recognized by the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA). This comprehensive program plays a pivotal role in producing skilled human resources for the field of mountaineering. The course consists of three components spanning ten months, laying the foundation for participants to become certified international mountain guides.


The entrance into the Aspirant Guide Course is no easy feat, as candidates must undergo a grueling entrance exam that serves as a stringent test of both skill and character. Eligibility criteria include being over 18 years of age, in excellent physical shape, and possessing high moral standards. The exam itself encompasses seven disciplines, ranging from oral exams to technical ice climbing tests. The aim is to ensure that those who embark on this journey are not only physically prepared but also uphold the ethical standards required in the challenging realm of mountaineering.

To even qualify for the entrance exam, candidates must meet preliminary requirements, including climbing training, alpine peak climbing experiences, or academic qualifications such as a Bachelor in Mountaineering Studies (BMS). This careful selection process ensures that aspirants possess practical skills and a solid academic foundation.

The Aspirant Guide Course acts as the stepping stone toward becoming an International Mountain Guide. Spanning ten months, it comprises three components and covers 70 training days. The program is designed to be progressive, allowing participants to move to the next component only after completing the final evaluation. The components include Fundamental Techniques on Alpine Rock, Ice, and Mixed Craft; Rock and Theory Navigation, Tourism Law Modules; and Alpine Ascent and Snow Theory, Mixed Modules, Leading and Managing Clients on Mountains.

Following the Aspirant Guide Course is the Mountain Guide Exam, representing the final stage in the education and evaluation system. This exam, aligned with IFMGA standards, consists of one module in the winter season, totaling 15 training days. It is conducted in various alpine terrains between 4000m to 6000m. Minimum requirements for this exam include the completion of all three components of the Aspirant Guide Course. Successful trainees return two years later to pass the Mountain Guide Exam.

To ensure ongoing excellence, NNMGA mandates that mountain guides attend periodic refreshment training within every three-year cycle. This commitment ensures the continuous improvement of technical skills, adoption of new techniques, and compliance with evolving regulations in the Mountaineering Guiding arena.

The Aspirant Guide Course, jointly organized by the Nepal National Mountain Guide Association (NNMGA) and Nepal Mountain Academy (NMA) for the 2023/2024 season began with meticulous participant selection at Hattiban. A select group of eminent experts, including Ang Norbu Sherpa, Narendra Shahi, Lopsang Sherpa, Pasang Kaji Sherpa, Dorje Sherpa, and Pemba Tenjing Lama, played crucial roles in curating a cohort of promising individuals for the transformative journey ahead.

A stellar cohort of 8 Nepali and 2 Indian participants successfully navigated the challenging program, emerging as dedicated and skilled graduates. The success of the trainees, including Dawa Sangay Sherpa, Gesman Tamang, Pemba Tamang, Kusang Sherpa, Sujal Gurung, Chhiring Sherpa, Luckme Tamang, Jenjen Lama, Sonam Yangzur, and Dorjee Tondup, stands as a testament to the rigorous training of the Aspirant Guide Course and the expert guidance that defined their journey.

Upon selection, the chosen aspirants ventured into the captivating Rolwaling Valley for a field training odyssey. Under the seasoned guidance of trailblazing experts, the field training dream team, which included Narendra Shahi (Chief), Pemba O Sherpa, Lopsang Sherpa, Dawa Phinjo L. Bhote, Chhiring Sonam Lama, and Ashish Gurung, ushered the trainees into the intricacies of mountaineering. The technical committee overseeing the Aspirant Guide Course 2023/2024 featured notable individuals with Narendra Shahi serving as the Convener of the Technical Committee at NNMGA, and additionally holding the role of the Education Chief for Component I. Narendra Shahi provided leadership, ensuring the seamless coordination of technical aspects while also spearheading the educational initiatives of Component I. Together, they played instrumental roles in shaping the technical and educational facets of the Aspirant Guide Course, ensuring a comprehensive and impactful training program for aspiring mountaineers.

From the 18th to the 29th of December 2023, participants dedicated themselves to intensive preparation for the upcoming Rolwaling Valley departure. On the 30th of December 2023, participants convened at NNMGA at 5:00 am for final preparations. Following a farewell by Vice President of NNMGA, Tshering Pande Bhote, they commenced a bus journey to Chhyotchhyot, Dolakha. The day encompassed tasks such as handing over supplies to porters and yaks, trekking to Simigaun, and acclimatizing to the challenging mountainous terrain.

The following day, December 31, participants immersed themselves in trekking to Dongang, acclimatizing to varying altitudes and embracing the scenic landscapes along the way. January 1, 2024, saw the focus shift to a trek reaching Beding at 3,700 meters. Participants navigated through captivating landscapes, gradually adapting to the increasing altitude of the Rolwaling Valley. Moving forward to January 2, participants engaged in exploration and preparations in Beding, involving a Puja ceremony in Beding Monastery, a trek to Na at 4,200 meters, and meticulous preparations for an impending entry exam.

January 3, 2024, brought activities such as the Rock Parkour Exam in Hatibuk, Na Village, followed by preparations for the upcoming Ice Craft Exam. January 4, 2024, witnessed participants navigating an Ice Parkour at NNMGA Great Wall, undergoing a Vertical Ice Exam, and engaging in a comprehensive welcome and course briefing.

Subsequent days, from January 5 to January 16, were dedicated to an intensive training program, covering a spectrum of activities such as multi-pitch climbing, rappelling, ice climbing, theoretical sessions on snow and avalanches, and culminating in a challenging ascent to Nima Jangbu Rocky Peak.

In the stretch, from January 15 to January 16, the focus shifted to snow and avalanche theory, practical exercises, and radio transceiver practice in Na Village. The program of the day concluded with participants celebrating the successful ascent and reflecting on their experiences. On January 17, 2024, participants delved into short rope practice, rock climbing, and a theory lesson around Na Village Rock Clip. The adventure continued on January 18 leading to multi-pitch rock climbing and rappelling in Na Village Rock Clip. January 19 saw multi-pitch rock climbing in Na Great Wall and a quad anchor demo in Hatibuk Rock Clip. On January 20, participants geared up for a challenging day of multi-pitch ice climbing on NNMGA Great Wall. January 21 focused on paving the way for a day centered on radio transceiver practice and exam preparation. Practical exercises included hands-on communication protocols and emergency procedures. The momentum continued on January 22 culminating in the evaluation phase of multi-pitch ice climbing skills on the NNMGA Great Wall. January 23 started with setting the stage for final evaluations of short rope techniques and multi-pitch rock climbing. Thorough assessments ensured participants’ proficiency.

January 24 commenced with marking the final day of activities in Na village. Participants underwent multi-pitch rock climbing evaluation and radio transceiver evaluations, simultaneously preparing for departure. January 25, the last day in Na village, participants engaged in preparing and packing until lunchtime, followed by a trek to Beding village at an elevation of 3,700 meters. The culmination of the intensive training program on January 26 involved a trek to Simigaun as part of the ongoing expedition. On January 27, the final leg of the journey commenced with a trek to Chhyotchhyot and a drive back to Kathmandu, concluding the expedition. The participants, having navigated diverse terrains and challenges, reflected on their journey, celebrating the culmination of their training program on this adventurous odyssey.


The days from January 6 to 25, 2024, unfolded with a meticulous schedule of activities, covering gear racking, multi-pitch climbing, short rope techniques, and evaluations in ice climbing, rock climbing, snow, and avalanche theory. This period exposed participants to a diverse range of mountaineering skills. The concluding days of the training were marked by intense evaluations assessing the participants’ acquired skills. Activities included multi-pitch ice climbing and rappelling, short rope techniques, and multi-pitch rock climbing evaluations.

The Aspirant Guide Course Component – I Entry Exam and Course Activities for 2023/2024 not only provided participants with hands-on experiences but also laid the foundation for a harmonious blend of tradition and technology in mountaineering education. This journey symbolizes a commitment to mastery, heralding a new era of skilled and tech-savvy mountaineers.

The Aspirant Guide Course serves as a comprehensive and progressive training program, laying the foundation for aspiring mountaineers to embark on a journey toward mastery and international certification as mountain guides. The fusion of practical skills, theoretical knowledge, and ethical standards makes this course a benchmark in the world of mountaineering education.

In the expansive landscape of mountaineering education and the fostering of skilled human resources, the Nepal National Mountain Guide Association (NNMGA) emerges as a dedicated institution committed to the cultivation of international standards in mountain guiding. In this pursuit, NNMGA stands out amidst the diverse array of institutions established to promote mountaineering tourism and develop proficient individuals for this challenging domain.

While NNMGA exemplifies a multifaceted approach, seamlessly blending the promotion of mountaineering tourism with the meticulous crafting of globally competent mountain guides, some other institutions appear to be anchored in a more narrow focus. In particular, there is a discernible observation that certain entities within the mountaineering education sphere might be predominantly preoccupied with the singular objective of collecting royalty fees, potentially at the expense of broader educational and professional development goals.

This discrepancy prompts a critical examination of the core values and missions that underpin these varied institutions. NNMGA’s commitment extends beyond mere financial considerations, embracing a comprehensive vision that encapsulates not only the economic aspects of mountaineering tourism but, more importantly, the creation and nurturing of highly skilled and globally competitive mountain guides.

The distinctive ethos of NNMGA is underscored by its active involvement in the promotion of mountaineering tourism alongside its primary role as an education provider. This commitment sets NNMGA apart as an institution that not only imparts knowledge and skills but also contributes significantly to the broader objectives of enhancing the overall quality and reputation of mountain guiding.

The varying emphases observed in the objectives of different institutions within the mountaineering sector shed light on the nuanced landscape of mountaineering education. NNMGA’s holistic and forward-looking approach positions it as a beacon of excellence, dedicated to not only meeting industry demands but also shaping the future of mountaineering by producing professionals of unparalleled global standards.