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How to choose a guide
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Polish mountain guiding scene has a growing range of companies offering courses, individual guiding, holidays and expeditions. There are some very good operators, but also one or two less reliable outfits. There also are a few things you need to be aware of to make an informed decision.

Once you contact a guiding company, be sure to ask who your guide is likely to be. If you have a favourite guide or would like to climb with someone you have heard good things about, then ask for them by name. Once you have built a personal relationship with a guide they are more likely to look after your interests. Hire a guide properly trained and qualified to work in the area you are going to visit, for the activities envisaged.


Guiding Ratios
You should go for the lowest client/guide ratio you can afford. Smaller teams move much faster in the mountains and by that increase safety and their chances to succeed. You also get more personal attention during teaching sessions. It's worth looking carefully at stated ratios, always seek clarification if you are unsure. Lower ratios are more expensive but usually they are well worth the cost.

In Poland the number of trainees per an instructor can't exceed:
4 on a crag climbing course,
4 on a high mountain skiing course,
3 on a summer Taternik course (Tatras multipitch climbing),
2 on a winter Taternik course.

Qualifications and Training
There are two bodies within Poland that administer mountaineering qualifications. The Polski Zwiazek Alpinizmu (PZA) set standards of training and assessment for qualifications valid within Tatra Mountains and the Polskie Stowarzyszenie Przewodnik?w Wysokog?rskich (PSPW) train Polish candidates for the IFMGA/UIAGM international mountain guides carnet.

Below we have explained what each mountaineering qualification means and where it is applicable:

IWS - Instruktor Wspinaczki Skalnej

UK equivalent

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Holders of this badge are allowed to take groups on single pitch rock climbing on crags and indoor walls.




SPA - Single Pitch Award pza_blacha.gif
 
IT - Instruktor Taternictwa

UK equivalent

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Covers all IWS activities, in addition to high mountains multipitch summer and winter climbing as well as trekking. The holder may also take a role of a course leader on PZA summer courses.



MIC - Mountain Instructors Certificate pza_blacha.gif
 
IA - Instruktor Alpinizmu

UK equivalent

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Covers all IT activities and a holder can take a role of a course leader on PZA winter courses and train aspirant guides.

A list of PZA licensed instructors.


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PZN - Instruktor Narciarski

UK equivalent

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Holders of Polish Ski Federation (PZN) badge are ski instructors allowed to instruct on maintained ski pistes. To hire a ski instructor see the PT qualified instructor link. If you decide to go for an off piste or skimountaineering guide refer to PZA high mountain guides link. Always check the relevance of qualifications of your ski instructor as not all of them will have a solid skitouring or skialpinism experience.




Ski Instructor,
Skimountaineering Guide
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PT - Przewodnik Tatrzanski (grade I)
UK equivalent

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Allows to guide groups in High Tatras and Western Tatras in summer on routes no more difficult than grade IV UIAA and in winter no more difficult than grade III UIAA.

The most popular guiding regions:
Tatra Mountains- from easy walks in pretty valleys to climbing on the highest summits,
Pieniny Mountains- the most spectacular scenery in Poland, rafting on Dunajec river,
Beskidy, Gorce, Bieszczady, Podhale, Orava, Spis, Liptov- submountain countryside trekking,
Slovensky Raj (Slovak Paradise)- full of limestone canyons and via ferratas.

Many PT guides have other mentioned above mountain guiding qualifications others are Polish Ski Federation (PZN) qualified ski instructors and some belong to the High Mountain Rescue Team (TOPR). To hire a PT guide please see a list of PT qualified guides.
MLWinter - Mountain Leader Winter
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PSPW - Polskie Stowarzyszenie Przewodnik?w Wysokog?rskich
UK equivalent

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The Polish High Mountain Guides Society (PSPW) was established in 1996. Its main aim is training Polish high mountain guides to meet IFMGA international standards. In October 1996 PSPW gained status of member candidate of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA). The Guides’ Training Scheme has been designed and developed so that the PSPW can offer a thorough training and assessment in all disciplines associated with the international guiding profession. Currently (June 05) PSPW has 38 members and 7 candidates. It has trained 28 IFMGA instructors including 8 senior instructors.

See here for a list of PSPW trained, IFMGA qualified guides.


BMG - British Association of Mountain Guides pspw_blacha.gif
 
IFMGA - The International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations UK equivalent Logo



This is the highest award in mountaineering and the only internationally recognised qualification for working in mountainous glaciated terrain. All national guiding associations of 25 member countries work to the same strict training syllabus and assessment standards which are regularly monitored between nations. Guides are allowed to work freely in the mountain regions of other member nations. To guide in the Alps instructors must have the IFMGA qualification.
The essential difference between the IFMGA carnet and other qualifications is the higher climbing standard required and the broader range of guiding specific techniques that need to be mastered in order to move quickly and safely on glaciated terrain.

Holders are licensed to practice rock and ice climbing, mountaineering and off piste skiing, worldwide without grade limit.


International carnet

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High Mountain Guide License


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