It’s no use improvising in the mountains… whether in summer or winter, there are many hazards, most of which you probably not even aware of! The weather can change from sunny to a storm in just a few minutes and the snow cover is constantly changing according to exposure and changes in temperature. For all these reasons, a team of mountain professionals is on hand to help.
Guide or trek leader…?
Mountain guides (guides de haute montagne) are state-qualified professionals that lead one or more people into the mountains, especially at high altitudes. They show you the paths, how to choose the best path, as well as climbing alongside you and teaching you the techniques needed for being out in the mountains.
They are the only qualified guides for helping you to walk and climb on glaciers and in all other areas requiring special equipment (harness, crampons, rope, etc.)
Unlike mountain guides, trek leaders (accompagnateurs en moyennemontagne) don’t use the techniques and tools specific to mountaineering. They are more concerned with exploring the mountains and are naturalists with a wide range of knowledge,specialised in explaining the natural mountain environment (plants and wildlife) and local heritage.
They generally accompany people hiking, mountain biking, canyoningand snowshoeing in winter.
To sum up, guides are high mountain specialists, who, unlike trek leaders, are qualified to venture into dangerous environments that require specific mountaineering equipment.