James Clapham

Certified IFMGA / British Mountain Guide

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I started rock climbing on the granite outcrops of Dartmoor and the sea cliffs of south-west England as a teenager. My love of the mountains has led to adventures on six continents from sea stacks to the high Himalaya. Twenty years on, I get to share my enthusiasm for the mountains year round, quite simply – I have the best job in the world!

I’ve been a resident of Chamonix since 2011 and split my time between rock & alpine climbing, ski touring and ice climbing following the seasons. For me the mountains are an environment where the journey and the adventure shared are as important as the summit. I aim to make the most of every day, whatever the time of year and look forward to sharing some of those future adventures with you. In addition to English I also speak and work in French and Polish, n’hésitez pas de me contacter - proszę o kontakt.


The International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations is the umbrella body responsible for the coordination and implementation of mountain guide training and practice worldwide. The IFMGA currently has 24 member nations, each with their own training programme. The IFMGA badge is internationally recognised as the worldwide benchmark qualification and indeed, the requirement for this standard is legally enshrined in the core European Alpine nations. If you head into the mountains with an IFMGA Mountain Guide, you can be confident that they are trained and assessed to the very highest standards.


British Mountain Guides is the national association and IFMGA member responsible for the training and standards of UK-based Mountain Guides. Currently totalling around 130 members the BMG represents a small but very significant part of the IFMGA.

What does being an IFMGA / British Mountain Guide mean in real terms? I regularly get asked about the requirements to become a British Mountain Guide, what is involved and how long it takes. Before you can start on the BMG training scheme you need to have rock and winter climbed extensively in the UK to a high standard. In addition you need a minimum of four years of Alpine climbing experience including a minimum of 5 grand courses – major routes like the Eiger or Matterhorn North faces. Finally you need to have skied and toured extensively in the Alpine environment including several multi-day classic ski tours. Once you have completed the entry requirements you need to have your application countersigned by an experienced and qualified guide who will help mentor you through your training. Most applicants have in the region of ten years’ experience before they apply. The training and assessment process lasts a minimum of three and a half years and builds on your experience and technical skills to safely guide on all terrain from crags and cascades to the high mountains. You can rest assured that when you head to the mountains with a British Mountain Guide that they are both highly experienced, very competent and will not only ensure your safety but that you get maximum enjoyment from your chosen adventure.

More information about the BMG and becoming a guide is available at: www.bmg.org.uk

I’m also proud to have created my first book, the ‘Dartmoor: Climbers' Club Guide’. The definitive Dartmoor guide from the Climbers’ Club is packed with tongue-in-cheek Devonian wit and banter plus some 600 routes and 1200 boulder problems with full photo-topos. These are partnered with stunning action shots showcasing this unique and fantastic area at its finest.