Hiring a guide is always a great idea when you are in an unfamiliar terrain, in a new country. As in any profession, there are people who do it well, and people who…well…don’t. Mountaineering is an inherently dangerous activity. So choosing a good guide is as important as choosing a good doctor!
In this article we will present some general rules you should follow when choosing a mountain guide in Romania, and then recommend guides we have been to the mountains with over the years.
A little bit of history
In the years following the revolution (overthrowing of the communist regime), Romania entered a period of “Wild West” capitalism, when free initiative had very little regulation. This was the case with mountain guiding too. Anyone could call him/her-self a mountain guide and take tourists on all kinds of paid mountain tours. Naturally, accidents were not infrequent with this type of “guides”.
In the last years continuous effort of the local mountaineering community lead to more strict regulations in the domain. There is legislation regulating mountain guiding activities, but most importantly a strong current of public opinion that demands quality, security and responsibility from mountain guides.
Choosing a good mountain guide in Romania
So, how would you choose a mountain guide in Romania?
1. The guide should have a legal right to guide you and to take your money. In Romania this means that the guide needs to have an accreditation from Romanian Ministry of Tourism. Download the list here and look for the name of the guide you intend to hire: http://turism.gov.ro/web/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/BD_GHIZI_31012018-1.xls. The guide should be able to show you their membership card. The guide also should have a form of business entity (usually called PFA).
2. The guide should be a part of a reputable professional organisation. This ensures that the guide participates in constant quality checks and professional courses and is held to high professional standards by his/her peers. We recommend to hire guides from either SGLM or AGMR. The guide should be able to show you their membership card.
3. Be very attentive to the client/guide ratio the potential guide proposes for certain activities. ASK ABOUT THIS! The ratio should be (as per the international standards):
- Hiking/trekking on touristic marked trails or non-technical trails (ropes and special equipment not necessary) – 1 guide / max 8 clients.
- Rock climbing, ice and mixed climbing 1 rope length – 1 guide / max 4 clients.
- Rock climbing, ice and mixed climbing 2+ rope lengths – 1 guide / max 2 clients.
- Alpine routes up to Romanian 2B grade – 1 guide / max 3 clients.
- Alpine routes from Romanian 3A grade – 1 guide / max 2 clients.
- Ski touring easy terrain – 1 guide / max 8 clients.
- Ski touring complex terrain – 1 guide / max 5 clients.
Avoid guides that exceed these ratios. Especially avoid guides that say that mountains is a great place to socialize and meet people! :))
4. Look for a guide you feel you’ll have a good rapport with. Going into mountains with some one you can hardly stand, however professional he/she may be, will ruin your experience.
Word of mouth
We would like to recommend 3 guides we’ve went to mountains with over the last 3 years. Naturally, you should judge and decide for yourself if the guide is a good fit for you, as a professional and as a person.
Info and contacts.
Has Ministry of Tourism accreditation, member of AGMR, member of SGLM.
- Excellent alpine routes guide, both winter and summer. If you want to discover routes and trails you never imagined existed in Bucegi, Piatra Craiului or Fagaras or do the classics – he is you guy. Connoisseur of hidden gems and routes a few people know about.
- Hiking and trekking.
- Ski touring.
Subtle motivator. Not a “bitch drop and give me 20” person. Yet, he can motivate you to go beyond your comfort zone and accomplish something new and awesome, without making you feel you’ll drop dead of exhaustion in the process.
A very educated person with great sense of humor. Want to discuss literature, arts or physics of climbing on approach hike? Or prefer to laugh, goof around and discover local pulp-fiction type of folklore? Go with Radu.
Languages (fluent): English, French.
Has Ministry of Tourism accreditation, member and currently president of SGLM.
- Alpine routes.
- Multi-pitch rock climbing.
- Hiking and trekking.
- Ski touring.
- Holds excellent regular courses in: mountaineering, mountain orienteering, rock climbing.
Educator. If you want to learn about mountain related stuff – from knots to history – he is a guide for you. His stories from Romanian and European mountaineering history will make your tours into a real mountain immersion experience.
Marian is the person who did immense work to bring Romanian mountaineering and guiding to higher standards. He constantly works to educate the public about everything mountain.
Languages: English, German.
Has Ministry of Tourism accreditation, member of AGMR, IFMGA, EEMGA.
One of a few Romanian guides who has a legal right to guide in the Alps.
- High altitude, difficult mountaineering routes (now mostly guides in the Alps and New Zealand).
- Sport and Multi-pitch rock climbing.
Cosmin is a part of the elite of Romanian mountaineering. He did first ascents in Himalaya, climbed the classics of the Alps, free soloed difficult domestic routes, you name it. Yet, he is one of the most easy going and fun persons to go to the mountains with. Extremely educated (dropped teaching career in Philosophy and Classics in the University of London to become a full time mountain guide).
Cosmin has a real gift for teaching. He was the one that really set me on the right course in rock climbing.
Languages: English, French, Italian, Hungarian.