It is amazing what kind of things can be said about the unknown. Let me see if I can help clear things up a bit.
There is obviously a long history of professional guiding in Europe. In Europe, it is mandatory to be fully certified to work as a mountain guide. If you are caught working as a guide without the proper certification, you may end up in jail. The flip side is that you may work in any mountain area without restriction. This is very different than the U.S. In order to ensure that a guide from, say, France, was up to standard while working in, say, Switzerland, they created the UIAGM or translated, the IFMGA - International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations. Today, the IFMGA has over 20 member countries.
Canada has been in the IFMGA for longer than the U.S. As a matter of fact, it was the ACMG that sponsored the AMGA's admission into the IFMGA. The AMGA was for many years, close to a carbon copy of the ACMG. The technical manual is the same, and for many years, technical advisors from Canada helped the U.S.
Canada has an incredible strong ski guiding community. They have huge heli-ski operations, backcountry guides, cat-skiing lodges, and resort-based operations. Because of this, just getting into the exams can be extremely challenging. This is because space is limited, and they can select the cream-of-the-crop. Once in, there is a culture of tough, "intangible" standards - especially on the ski side - that makes passing challenging for some. Hence, the tough Canadian reputation.
But an IFMGA guide is an IFMGA guide. This is the point. It is of course, the MINIMUM standard, so within the ranks there are better and there are worse guides. But the standard is the same for all countries.
If you would like to be a guide, I strongly recommend going through the AMGA process. It is clear, delineated, and improving each year. The AMGA is also working closely with the USFS, and policies are being shaped around certification.
Furthermore, each association is dependent on the strength of its members. If someone was so "badass" that they felt they needed the added challenge of testing in a foreign country, then they should be contributing to their home association, not set stepping the process. I'm not accusing you of this. But, to be fair, you stated that you wish it was more clear, and you could get more information. Did you call the AMGA office? There are only a few people in the office, and someone will be willing to answer all your questions. 303.271.0984
All certification and evaluation systems have issues. And when someone struggles, they tend to knock the system, not look within. The AMGA is not perfect. It is however, a fantastic process, full of inspiration people, and meets ALL international standards. On top of this, it is designed to meet the needs of the guiding community in the U.S., and is flexible enough to change with the times.
I hope this helps. I expect it will not end the conversation. I look forward to hearing more from you.
You can look me up through my website - www.alpineambitions.com - and contact me directly if you would like.