Become an IPGA Guide


There is no easy path to becoming an IPGA Polar Expedition Guide. All of our current guides are professionals and have dedicated many years to becoming world-class expeditioners, guides and mentors. We are a growing community dedicated to the profession of guiding in polar ice environments and our guides actively contribute to our database of skills and practices.

IPGA guides are:

  • able to guide professionally in polar environments where surface travel over ice is the primary mode, and mountaineering skills are transitory in nature
  • highly skilled in common-practice polar travel techniques
  • able to manage and lead all aspects of an extended polar expedition

Regions and Seasons

An applicant must demonstrate knowledge, experience and professionalism in polar sled-hauling expeditions and associated planning, provisioning and management. Experience must be obtained on polar ice surfaces such as icecap, ice sheet, glacier, shelf ice, sea ice, lake ice, typically adjoined by snow, and in quintessential polar regions such as greater Antarctica, Greenland, Svalbard, Nunavut and the Arctic Ocean.

While multinational experience is optimal, experience in a single region is acceptable if an applicant demonstrates that their skills are transferable to other polar regions. This requires an applicant to have outstanding sled-hauling experience across various terrains and seasons within that single region.

Experience in sub-polar, severe cold or ice-field areas is assessable provided it is secondary to classic polar regions. Such areas include, but are not restricted to:

  • Alaska
  • Antarctic Peninsula
  • Iceland
  • Islands below the Antarctic convergence
  • Patagonian ice fields
  • Scandinavia
  • select areas of mainland USA, Canada and Siberia


IPGA guides possess a range of outstanding qualities and are able to perform a host of skills in a professional manner, including:

  • assessment, selection and preparation of clients
  • selection, procurement and modification of equipment suitable for polar activities in their speciality areas
  • selection, procurement and preparation of food
  • organise all aspects of polar expedition logistics in their speciality areas
  • travel with skill, safety and confidence over any polar ice environment in their speciality areas
  • advanced orientation and navigation skills with maps, compass, GPS etc.
  • determine appropriate guide to client ratios
  • anticipate, assess and mitigate environmental and other threats
  • conduct wilderness first-aid, trauma and rescue procedures
  • be competent in the use of firearms and communications equipment
  • experienced with aircraft ground procedures
  • provide contacts and relevant authorities with a comprehensive operations manual
  • recognise and apply the unique skills demanded of civilian guiding and customer care
  • display a duty of care towards clients
  • respond competently to the leadership, motivational, social and emotional demands of a team
  • consider all environmental aspects of a polar expedition

Broadly, an applicant is expected to contribute to the collective knowledge and reputation of IPGA.

Applying for IPGA Polar Expedition Guide endorsement

An application is expected to be completed with all relevant experience and certifications. The endorsement criteria within the application constitute a minimum requirement and applicants who do not exceed this minimum, or appear to overly identify with areas of guiding outside the typical IPGA Polar Expedition Guide characterisation, may be asked to submit further material including an appraisal (with supporting images) of why they consider their skills and experience to be outstanding and in the interests of IPGA.

Some guides also have specialist skills such as sea ice expeditions, mountaineering, polar snowkiting and dogsledding, as indicated on their profile.

We welcome your interest in becoming a member and look forward to your contribution to the world of polar guiding.