Becoming a Mountain Leader
Being a Mountain Leader has to be the best job in the world – it’s a fact! If you’re looking to turn your hill walking passion into something more and make a “living out of it” then becoming a Mountain Leader might just be for you. It is an amazing journey and one that I personally love, it offers some amazing experiences both personally and professionally.
The most important first steps to becoming a Mountain Leader is to understand exactly what a Mountain leader (ML) is. The scope of the award or what we can do as a Mountain Leader is fairly extensive. We are able to lead groups into the UK mountains in summer conditions but also, take people wild camping, teach navigation, work on Duke of Edinburgh awards to name a few.
The best step you can make I would say is to – GO HILL WALKING. See that bucket list of walks you have? Start ticking them off. Then start to visit the Lake District, Snowdon and Scotland. You’re wanting to lead people in a hostile environment so get plenty of experience. Have a look at what the criteria is for a Quality Mountain day (QMD) and start to try and tick as many of on your days out as you can. The more experience you have under your belt the more you are going to get out of Training courses. You’re going to need about 20+ days in the mountains before attending your training course.
Register with Mountain training and start logging your QMDs. For you to do your Mountain Leader course you need to register on to the scheme and join Mountain Training. Mountain Training is the collection of awarding bodies for skills courses and qualifications in hill walking, climbing and mountaineering in the UK and Ireland. If you don’t register you will not be able to attend a training course. You also need to join of the Mountaineering council either the BMC, Mountaineering Scotland or Mountaineering Ireland.
When you do register for the Mountain Leader course, you’ll also be able to start logging your QMDs on the digital log book (D-log). This is where you’ll be able to input the details of your walks. Personally, I think that the whole D-log is very interactive and it’s really worth having a look around and becoming familiar with it. You’ll be able to log days, book training courses and assessment dates and add in further details such as first aid record etc. Be able to download the Mountain Leader handbook which covers the whole process in much more detail.
Try doing a Hill and Mountain Skills course. Prior to my Mountain Leader course, I attended a Hill and Mountain Skills courses. It’s not something that you are required to do before your training. But by attending the course it gave me a really great idea of where I was at before the training. It offered me the chance to tinker my navigation. As well as begin to learn more in depth about subjects such as the weather, geology, fauna and flora.
Join the Mountain Training Association. Again, this is not something that is required but it is recommended. The MTA is the support and development side of Mountain Training. It provides support to members working towards there qualification or who already hold a qualification through workshops and CPD opportunities. As you progress through your ML journey, you’re going to find that a lot of the workshop the regional co-ordinators put on can be really invaluable. It will allow you to connect with other trainees and members who might qualified as well trainers / assessors. The topics are wide ranging and will normally involve some part of the training / assessment criteria. Some of the most popular one’s night navigation, Rope work, Geology etc. Again, personally I get a lot out of being a member and still regularly run workshops with the Lake District area.
The journey to becoming an ML is and adventure in its own right and this is just a small part of that adventure. So just enjoy it we live in an amazing country so go explore it. Once you have completed your Mountain leaders why not come and work for Lake District Adventuring.
About the Author.
Jack Oliver – Holds a number of Mountain Training qualification and is a regional volunteer for the Lake District area. A keen mountain runner and climber he is regularly out in the mountain.