CGC Board of Directors Elections: Candidate Position Statements


For the first three years of operations the CGC operated with a transitional Board of Directors.  Over that time the Board worked diligently to grow the CGC into what it is today.  The CGC has 60 members and has made progress toward providing credential-based access to American and foreign guides.  To continue this tradition the Co-op asks that you support all SIX Candidates for the CGC Board of Directors.  Please read the bios below to learn more about the candidates

CGC Member Owners submit your vote by emailing:

Mark Allen

Mark Allen CGC

Guides who make a difference.

American Mountain Guide

I have been working as a guide in the Northwest since 2000 and achieve full IFMGA/AMGA guide in 2010. For fourteen years I have worked for various outfitters such as AAI, NCMG, Mountain Madness, ALE, and IMG on domestic trips all over the continental US as well as Asia, Alaska, South America, and Antarctica. Through that time I have found that working independently has become a main source of my annual income that best suites my private return client’s and allows me to exercise my profession as it is requested by customers I network. I now split my seasons between the North Cascades, Europe, and Colorado and run a small booking agency called Expeditions Northwest LLC to best serve my clients and provide securities to many aspects of my trade.

I have been utilizing the Co-op structure since the inception. I am grateful for the opportunity to guest-guide but view this model as an dead end option supporting oligopoly. I now have come to rely the structure of the CGC, and structures like it, to continue on my current course of working with my clients as a free market. I was voted on to the CGC BoD in December of 2012 and have been working with available free time to improve the fundamental structure of the CGC. With the Board of Directors I have continued to work on improvements like the formation of  Regional Coordinators, permit acquisition, emergency procedures, and AMGA accreditation. Additional goals are instating a CGC policy to legally support an outlet for working Aspirants, workman’s compensation securities, and improvements on the fee structure to be competitive to other policies used in similar guiding governments.

The CGC is gaining traction with land managers and the US government. With our work in the last 6-months we now have the momentum we will need to start solving domestic guiding issues. We view the CGC as the best answer to reciprocal access for international guides. I see these issues being resolved sooner than we might think. Please allow me to continue my work with the CGC in these transitional times.

Mike Bromberg

Mike Bromberg Mountain Guide

Mike has been a CGC Board Member since 2010.

American Mountain Guide

I am writing to respectfully ask your support for re-election to the Board of Directors of the Certified Guides Cooperative.

As a founding member of the Certified Guides Cooperative and current Vice President, I am believe I am qualified to continue to help the BOD steer the direction of the CGC.

At the AMGA/IFMGA meeting in 2010, Chris Wright, Forest McBrian, Scott Schell, Geoff Unger, and myself stood before an international collection of guides and interested parties and illustrated the potential of our cooperative effort. Since then, the CGC has grown steadily and the actual needs of our members have begun to crystallize.

Recently, the board is exploring ways to reduce the daily use fees for “active” members in order to simplify the payment structure and to accurately reflect actual operating costs.

The co-op remains focused on maintaining access to the areas that represent substantial usage by our active members. Concurrently, permits that were inactive have been relinquished to reduce overhead and administrative work load.  Permit acquisition for the co-op has evolved into a partnership with interested active members and regional coordinators working together to pursue access to desirable areas where satisfactory independent guiding solutions do not yet exist.

As a member and active permit holder with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, I have direct experience working within a group permit model similar to that of the co-op. Also, my experience guiding in France necessitated the participation in a continuing education course for Mountain Guides and ultimately equivalence with the SNGM. The experience above as well as guest guiding in the United States, leaves me motivated to help the CGC meet the needs of it’s members through a very unique understanding of the needs of guides working domestically and internationally.

I believe strongly that the evolution of the AMGA Accreditation standards and a self- regulating professional scope of practice will eventually contribute to a more refined guiding culture and access climate for AMGA certified guides. For now, I believe that the co-op fulfills the need for appropriate permits and liability insurance for certified guides wishing to operate independently.

Mike Bromberg is an AMGA Certified/IFMGA Licensed Mountain Guide based in Revelstoke B.C.   He guides professionally as a micro-business owner, employee guide, guest guide, ACMG member/permit holder, SNGM Equivalent Guide de Haute Montagne, and Active Member of the Certified Guides Cooperative.

Tico Gangulee

Tico Alulee

Tico is a hardworking guide from Utah.

My contributions to the CGC through membership in the BoD will of course reflect my strengths and experience:  I have been involved in agency permitting processes on a number of levels, including the environmental permitting of an aggregate two billion dollars of roadway construction.  I have been an NPS employee at the Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) ranger level, which may provide some strategic insight to the board.  I have served on the board of a large nature preserve, so I am familiar with intra-board politics, budgetary constraints, and the comprises that go with both.  Finally, I have been an early adopter and longtime supporter of the CGC and its mission.  I believe the success of the CGC is the single most important factor to creating a more European or Canadian system of guiding in the U.S., along with the associated higher wages, and can help break the current monopolistic system without resorting to unionization and strikes.  As such, and most importantly, I am willing to contribute significant time and effort to this cause, and as a long time professional my efficiency and efficacy are high.  Thank you for your consideration, I hope I can be of some small service to the company.

Kurt Hicks

Kurt Hicks Mountain Guide

Kurt Hicks makes a difference in the guiding world

AMGA Certified Alpine & Rock Guide

I have been serving on the CGC Board since 2012. In this capacity I have focused on managing CGC permits and refining our Risk Management protocols. My academic background in public land management, coupled with experience working for the US Forest Service and state universities provides a solid knowledge base for policy discussion, commercial permitting processes, and Risk Management. I am eager to continue working on behalf of Certified guides, both here and abroad.

Geoff Unger

Geoff Unger, Extreme Alpine

Geoff is the current President of the CGC Board

American Mountain Guide

I have been involved with The Co-op from the time that we decided to transition from the CGF model.  Shortly after the incorporation of the CGC my fellow board members elected me president of the organization.

Over the last three years I worked alongside the CGC board of directors to shape the organization into what it has become today.  We have worked hard to achieve our mission of providing access for Certified Guides and have been successful.  I plan to continue this work to help make guiding a sustainable profession for Certified Guides.

Within the last six months my role with the Co-op has changed dramatically.  I am not only president of the board, but the chief administrator for our insurance policy and work closely with our regional coordinators who go out and obtain permits.  I am also heavily involved in marketing to and communicating with the CGC members and potential members.

I see a number of next steps for the CGC.  Recently the CGC purchased the AIARE Level I curriculum, which will allow our members to run avalanche courses during the winter months.  If the AIARE Level I Programs go well I can foresee becoming and AIARE Level II provider as well.   In addition the Co-op is pursuing AMGA Accreditation and I think we will be accredited by spring 2014.  I am also interested in being able to provide accident and disability insurance to active Co-op members.

In closing the CGC will continue to pursue access for Certified Guides and continue to promote sustainability and professionalism in guiding.  Please support me for the CGC board of directors and support your Cooperative.

Margaret Wheeler

Margaret Wheeler Mountain Guide

Margaret is a past President of the AMGA.

American Mountain Guide

What does the CGC mean to you?

The CGC means many things to many people, and the spectrum of opinions is broad.  Some see it as a potential way to make a living as an independent guide in the US; some see it as filling in a missing piece of the puzzle in the professional life of a mountain guide; some see it as a potential threat to their own business and permits.  In serving on the CGC BOD, my goal would be to balance all of these perspectives and keep the CGC on track with its mission statement:  To provide insurance and hold permits for certified guides.

What is the vision for the CGC in the next 5 years? 

The AMGA is devoting significant resources to change the regulations and policy that affect mountain guiding in the US, and the new Accreditation standards, set to go into effect in 2017, will move the industry closer to achieving the goal of credential based guiding.  My experience with the AMGA board of directors – and in learning about the policy and regulatory climate in the US – has led me to conclude that our permit system may be able to evolve (slowly!), but that it will not disappear.  As long as this assumption holds true, the vision for the CGC is clear:  it must be the entity that creates a bridge between our permit system and a certified (‘licensed’) guide.  As such, I believe that the CGC is our best solution to create a ‘license based system’ for certified guides in the US, while at the same time meeting the requirements of the insurance and permit climate on US public lands.

As a CGC BOD member, my goal is to ensure that the CGC continues to experience steady, sustainable growth in the coming years.   The CGC may not yet fulfill the goals and expectations of all its membership, but we have to keep taking the small steps in order to reach the end goal.

CGC Member Owners submit your vote by emailing:

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Fee Structure changes effective January 1st, 2014

There was a lot of discussion that the CGC was too expensive.  A thorough combing of the CGC books and records and historical use showed that the daily guiding rates could be lowered to reflect the actual cost of the products.  The changes you find below are a first step to make the Co-op work for its members.  Between the fee structure changes, a new Board of Directors and an assistant/aspirant guide policy the CGC is becoming more and more relevant in the guiding industry.  Sign up now at

 The New Fee Structure:

Membership Activation will remain the same.  $300 per year from the date of activation.

Daily fee/per unit retains

$50 dollars per day for the first 20 days.

$25 dollars per day for each additional day above 20

Activation Package:

Membership activation and 20 days paid in advance.  $1000

A savings of $300


Guide 1 uses the Co-op for 15 days but does not want to pay $1000 up front.

Financial Outlay

$300 Activation

$50 times 15 days of guding = $750

Total = $1050 per year

This guide could save 50 dollars by paying in advance.

Guide 2 uses the coop for 30 days and doesn’t want to pay in advance.

Financial Outlay:

$300 Activation

$50 times 20 days = $1000

$25 times 10 days = $250

Total = $1550

This guide could save $300 dollars by paying in advance.

Projected Max:

Right now the hardest working CGC guide used 57 days in one year.  So lets add some cushion to that and say 100 days is the maximum someone would use.

$1000 dollar prepayment for activation and 20 days.

80 days times $25 = $2000

This means for a good chunk of work the amount this CGC guide would pay is $3000 for insurance and access to variety of venues.  Let’s assume this guide charges $300 per day.  That would mean the guide pays just 10% of their gross for permits and insurance.

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CGC Updates for 2014

The CGC has made some dramatic changes to the payment structure of the Co-op.  The changes represent a need to correlate what CGC members pay for insurance and access to actual costs.  Now when you pay your User-day fees it directly relates to the costs of insurance and permits.  The CGC was able to make this change due to the dedication of the CGC Board and the hard work of our Regional Coordinators.

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Providing Access

CGC-logo-printThe Certified Guides Co-op is a guide’s cooperative supporting AMGA and IFMGA certified guides by providing access in the United States and abroad.

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January 2011 News Bulletin

I hope this note finds you well and off to a great start with the 2011 guiding year. I’m writing today to give you an update on the Certified Guides Co-op along with a recap of the events we were part of during the AMGA/IFMGA meetings in Boulder. Since the fall meeting, the CGC has been very busy getting off the ground and we’re excited to announce that we are now accepting memberships! Please read on to learn about the CGC informational presentation in Eldorado Canyon, which permits we already have and which ones we’re seeking, access, how to sign up, our timeline, and what’s next.

AMGA Annual Meeting Update

On Monday, November 15th, the CGC transitional Board and I presented our plan for getting the CGC off the ground. The meeting took place in Eldorado Canyon State Park with 73 guides present. Guides from all over the US were present alongside the current IFMGA president Herman Biner and several other international delegates. The meeting was well received and many good questions were asked. For those of you who missed the meeting, a short PowerPoint presentation can be found in the resource section on the CGC website here.


(Note: This Permit List is old, Please refer to versions dated more recently)

Since the meeting last fall, we’ve had a ton of great questions about the functionality of the co-op. Out of those questions, the most consistently asked is, “What permits do/will you have?”

Here is a short list of what we currently have and are seeking in the first half of 2011:

Permits currently held by the CGC:

White Mountain National Forest Moab BLM

Indian Creek BLM

Bridalveil Falls – Telluride, CO

Permits in transition from the CGF to the CGC (expected activity date – first qtr. 2011):

North Cascades National Park Smith Rock State Park

Boulder Open Space (the Flatirons)

Eldorado Canyon State Park

Seneca Rocks (Mongahela National Forest)

New River Gorge

Devils Tower

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Banff National Park, Canada

Yoho National Park, Canada

Kootenay National Park, Canada

Mt. Revelstoke/Glacier National Park, Canada

The Gunks

Ouray Ice Park

Check out the FAQ section on the CGC website for the most up-to-date list. If there is a permit we could get that will help you out, please get in touch with me or a CGC Board member.

CGC Timeline

December 2010

  • The CGC forms an official transitional Board of Directors (BoD) to see the organization through to the first annual meeting.
  • The CGC conducts its first BoD meeting.
  • Version 1.0 of the Bylaws are completed and ratified by the Board during the first BoD meeting.
  • Version 1.0 of the Membership Agreement is completed and adopted during the first BoD meeting.
  • The CGC accepts its first members to the co-op.
  • The CGC receives its first NFS permit – for the White Mountain National Forest. This marks a huge success for our new co-op structure, as this was a permit that the CGF was unable to obtain based on the configuration of the Certified Guide Federation.
  • With the help of an outside resource, the NorthWest Co-op Development Center (NWCDC), the CGC conducts its first BoD training webinar. This is first of many monthly training sessions designed to educate our BoD on overseeing a successful co-op.

January – February
The CGC is now accepting new members. During the months of January and February, a CGC representative will be contacting certified members of the AMGA to discuss membership options and answer questions you may have about the CGC. In the meantime, if you know you wish to join, or have questions, please feel free to get in touch with me or one of the CGC Board members.

February 1st marks our goal for launching our non-permitted operations. Member-owners will be able to run trips on the CGC in all non-permitted lands. This includes areas such as Europe, Asia, many places in South America, and any areas in the US that do not require a permit to operate.

March 1st is our target date for launching permitted operations. At this point, the CGC will be fully functional, and any permits that we currently hold will be available for use by current members.

Board of Directors

As of December 2010, the CGC has a Board of Directors that will oversee the organization through its first year of operations. Future Board elections take place at the Fall 2011 CGC Annual Meeting. The members of the Board are listed below. If you have any questions, please feel free to email a Board member directly:

Geoff Unger, President, can be reached at:

Mike Bromberg, Vice President, can be reached at:

Forest McBrian, Secretary, can be reached at:

Lance Johnson, Treasurer, can be reached at: Chris Wright, can be reached at:    

How to Become a Member

To be a part of the CGC, please go to our website and download a copy of our Bylaws and Membership Agreement. You can send a check and signed Membership Agreement to our address below.

Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions about the CGC.


Geoff Unger

Certified Guides Cooperative
418th Ave SE
SSnoqualmie, WA 98065

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The History of the CGF and the CGC

Historical Perspective: The AMGA – CGF TIMELINE from June 2005 to June 2010

2005 – The Very Beginning

June: The AMGA President reports to the board of directors that creating a non-profit cooperation might be the most workable solution to provide reciprocal access for international guides. The Certified Guides Federation (CGF) is created as a Colorado Nonprofit Corporation, with the goal of providing international reciprocity.

May: AMGA releases $5,000 to Certified Guides Federation to support initial start up business costs.

2006 – The Reorganization Year

October: The Certified Guides Federation (CGF) board is restructured. CGF Board members are: Jeff Ward, John Kear, Dale Remsberg, Adrian Ballinger, Joe Vallone, Clint Cook, Amos Whiting, Peter Gould (Lawyer), and Keith Garvey as chair. The board decides that the CGF will stay a non-profit organization that will be a sister organization to the AMGA.

2007 – The First Year

January: The CGF requests financial assistance from the AMGA Board of Directors to cover half the initial start-up cost. The AMGA Board of Directors agrees to release $5,000 immediately and an additional $5,000 upon receipt and approval of CGF long-range business plan. The board delineates that the business plan is to show expected revenue and expenses for start up year and operational years.

September: AMGA releases the second phase of $5,000 to Certified Guides Federation.

October: CGF hires AMGA Assistant, Justin Yates, to begin work part time, acquiring permits and an insurance policy for CGF members. AMGA offers office resources (computer, phone, printer, internet service, email blasts and space on AMGA website) to support this initiative. Discussions at the October 2007 BOD meeting express the goal that the CGF is to be self-sustaining in the long term

2008 – The Year of Growth and Change

January: AMGA releases $5,000 to Certified Guides Federation after CGF raised $10K to match AMGA to-date contribution Discussion at the AMGA Board meeting centers around the point that in order to survive in the long term the CGF business model must be self-sustaining. CGF Hires Simon Fryer to build website and initiate insurance research to obtain a policy.

April: CGF obtains a liability insurance policy for its members and begins permit applications.

June: The CGF proposes the AMGA provide $10k in additional support. The $10K contribution served to provide continued startup funding to keep the CGF afloat while obtaining more permits and creating a solid business plan.

July: AMGA issues $10,000 to Certified Guides Federation (as voted by the AMGA Board in the June meeting).

August: Scott Schell hired to work as Executive Director (ED) of CGF.

October: AMGA hosts Regional Round Table Discussion in Bend, OR. The goal of the round table is to provide a forum for information exchange and discussion around access issues in the northwest. CGF Report the AMGA Board of Directors indicates they have obtained permits in 12 areas, and that the CGF membership costs are being restructured.

December: Cameron Banko joins as the CGF legal counsel.

2009 – The Year of Evolution

January: CGF brings a proposal to the AMGA board for funding of $10K in order to increase the part-time work of the CGF ED (Scott Schell). As a result of discussing the proposal, the AMGA BOD forms the AMGA-CGF Ad-Hoc Subcommittee. This subcommittee is directed by the board to explore options for the future relationship between the CGF and AMGA, and to advise the board of its findings at the June meeting. The options on the table were: 1. The AMGA absorbs the CGF and they become one entity 2. The CGF and the AMGA remain separate – in this case there would be two entities, with defined roles in the short and long term.

Committee members are: Margaret Wheeler, Betsy Novak, Scott Schell, Dale Remsberg, Keith Garvey, Jeff Ward, Cameron Banko, Peter Gould, Martin Volken

May: AMGA/CGF Ad-Hoc committee meets for 2-days in Boulder, CO to explore potential relationship options between the two organizations. The committees findings are as follows: 1. The AMGA needs to improve immediate access for individual guides and guide services. 2. The AMGA should not and can not absorb the CGF, for reasons of tax structure, permitting laws, liability, and the complex politics of guiding in the US. 3. The Subcommittee should continue work to investigate whether the CGF can/should retain its nonprofit status, or if it should become a for-profit entity instead.

June: The AMGA Board receives the report from the AMGA-CGF committee, and charges the committee to continue its work to determine the future structure of the CGF. The Board generally agrees that the AMGA should increase the priority of access, and charges the subcommittee to create a survey for the AMGA membership to gauge their opinions and understanding of the issues. Scott Schell is tasked with the creation of this survey, due out July – August 2009. Scott Soden, AMGA Board member and Treasurer, is added to the subcommittee for financial advising.

July: AMGA/CGF Ad-Hoc Committee holds conference call. Scott Soden creates a cost matrix for the existing CGF business plan; this matrix shows that the CGF cannot be self-sustaining under the current membership structure, and offers options for changes to membership costs for the CGF going forward. This matrix prompted the proposal that AMGA member dues should be increased to support the CGF. The findings of the subcommittee are as follows:

  1. The CGF cannot remain a non-profit, and should pursue transitioning into a for-profit entity in order to meet the requirements of land managers and to be tax compliant.
  2. The CGF should build a complete business plan for this structure, and include in the plan a proposal to use an increase in AMGA membership dues to support the CGF.

July: AMGA BOD holds a conference call to discuss topics from Ad-Hoc committee’s recommendations. The BOD suggests CGF work with the AMGA-CGF subcommittee and the legal and financial counsel of the AMGA to bring a viable business plan to October meeting for review.

September: AMGA issues $5,000 to Certified Guides Federation to help keep the business afloat during the transition and building of a new business plan (on the LLC model)

August- September: CGF/AMGA survey goes out to membership

October: AMGA Board of Directors holds a planning session with the CGF Board of Directors. Both groups review the survey results, which reveal that the AMGA membership varies widely in both understanding of the issues and in opinions for potential solutions. Together the two groups create the idea of short term and long term work for access – the short term being the CGF in some form, the long term being the position of an access director at the AMGA.

October: the National Round Table in Moab creates a forum for the full spectrum of issues and possibilities with regards to access. All present at the meeting agree that the AMGA should work to improve access. The three main ideas as to how this should occur are:

  1. Via the CGF
  2. Via guest guiding programs with existing guide services
  3. Via a formal position for access policy within the AMGA

October: The CGF proposal (for the CGF to transition into an LLC with AMGA financial support) at the Moab board meeting is discussed extensively, then sent back to the AMGA-CGF subcommittee for further revisions. The committee and the CGF are charged with:

  1. Filling in missing aspects of the LLC business plan.
  2. Researching a cooperative model to see if it would be a more successful model to meet the financial, regulatory, and political issues here in the US.

Reasons for this are several: the LLC business plan needed revision; the AMGA membership expressed a variety of opinions as to how the CGF should function; the LLC model would make it very difficult for foreign guides to have reciprocal access through the CGF.

November: AMGA/CGF Ad Hoc committee holds a conference call. During this call the committee decides to table the LLC business plan and focus on the possibility of forming a cooperative. The committee creates task list to gain information about the Cooperative model for the CGF. It is agreed that the CGF must be a stand-alone organization that is fundamentally supported by the AMGA.

November: the AMGA Board holds a conference call to review the task list presented by the CGF. In general the board charges the committee to continue its work, and to create a proposed business plan for the cooperative model. The board sets a timeline of March 1, 2010, for the completion of the business plan.

2010 – The Formulation of the Future Plan

January: AMGA Board approves funds for the creation of an Access Director in the AMGA office.

January: The AMGA-CGF committee reports to the AMGA board as follows: 1. The cooperative model is very promising as a solution for the CGF because it meets many of the needed criteria with land managers, insurance, potential members, tax status, and international reciprocity

January: CGF asks the AMGA for $6,000 to carry the organization thru until it can finalize the Certified Guides Cooperative plan. AMGA BOD agrees to issue $3,000, and another $3,000 after the CGF/CGC raises $6,000 to match the AMGA contribution.

February: AMGA issues $3,000 to Certified Guides Federation (as voted on by the AMGA Board at January 2010 meeting)

March: The Certified Guides Co-op files Articles of Incorporation in WA State and begins to the long process of building a functional co-op.

May: AMGA hires an Access Director to work on short and long-term access issues for the American Guide.

June – August: the ED of the CGF works to build a business plan for the operation of the Co-op.

…Keep checking our Blog for monthly updates!

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