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Thread: Becoming a mountain leader. Where to begin!

  1. #1
    Widdler
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    I want to begin my journey to becoming a mountain leader. The only problem is I dont know anyone involved in this field at all so I have no source of information. I was wondering if there is any particular courses workshops that would be good to start on leading up to my assesments. In regards to the assesments wand achievments, whatorder do I need to take tthem in or is there any I should look to be doing first.

    Many thanks

    Adam

  2. #2
    ‹bermensch Gneiss Boots's Avatar
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    I would start here:

    http://www.mountain-training.org/wal...ountain-leader

    in essence be a proficient/ experienced walker, register and do a training course then gain further experience before you assessment. Getting a first aid qualification also needs to be included in there.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Metric Kate's Avatar
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    Hi Adam

    I've done the training course, which I found very good, and it served to develop skills and confidence. I think I benefitted from not trying to do the training course too soon, I'd already done a fair amount of mountain walking by then, had good navigation skills.

  4. #4
    Mini Goon
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    Why are you wanting to do this? Are you wanting to do volunteer work or maybe look at doing this as a job?

    A friend of mine took a course some time back on simple open country nav skills in the dark peak district and he said it wasn't up to much. I'd try and get some good recommendations on specific courses before you sign up. Somebody I trek with went up to one in the Cairngorms at Glenmore lodge and said it was amazing. The skills he came back with were certainly much sharper as a result.

  5. #5
    Widdler
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    Thanks for the replies. I am looking to this as a career as im currently starting to learn alpine climbing as that is where my heart is but any kind of job that allows me to be in the mountains would be fantastic for me. Having looked around this is the route I want to take. I believe that this would allow for many more oppertunities in the future and would be really fun to do. I am trying my best to find good recommended courses but im struggling. I can find plenty of courses just dont know which ones to choose as they could be poorer than others for the same price. I have looked at some from plas y brenin as ive been there on rock climbing courses and it seemed like a fantastic place. For rock climbing it was anyway but for mountain leader training I do not know.

  6. #6
    Ultra King Mikel el Bastardo's Avatar
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    Simply post endless videos of yourself doing things outdoors on forums. You only need to know about the techy side of things. You can pretend you are an expert in the actual outdoor stuff.

    It has worked for others.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Metric Kate's Avatar
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    Adam, I did my ML training at Plas y Brenin in 2010 and thought it was very good. It looks expensive, but when you consider that full board and lodging is included, plus use of all their facilities during the week, it's not that bad.

    If you are looking at N.Wales, I've also heard very good things about Phil George.

  8. #8
    Widdler
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    Kate, did you go straight into the ml training or did you do something like walking group leader first? Im pretty confident I could go straight to ml training but dont want to make the mistake of being out of my depth and wasting time and money on something I wont reap thenfull rewards from. My map reading skills are profficiant and I have done a lot of mountain walking so I think I should be fine but im unsure on how close to the finished article they are afterto go on ml training.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Metric Kate's Avatar
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    They don't want the finished article on the training course! You'll need to consolidate the skills you learn on the course, and hone the skills you went into the course with. I'd done a fair amount of hillwalking before doing the ML course, but hadn't done any qualifications previously - and it really wasn't necessary.

    Have you got the Steve Long book? If not, maybe have a look at it, it covers the skills you need for ML assessment, not to do the training.

  10. #10
    Mini Goon
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    The impression I got of WGL is that it is similar to the ML training without some of the steep/high ground stuff so, if you're aiming for ML, it's probably not worth doing WGL first.

    All 'proper' ML courses (you used to get a list of providers with registration) are checked by MLTB, so there should be some consistency of quality. We had a moderator along for part of my training, which gave a little more confidence that they take the course provision pretty seriously.

    The best thing to do is to register, check the pre-requisites, get out and start clocking up your Quality Mountain Days (assuming they're still called that) and do a training course. Importantly, understand what makes a QMD - it's more about the experience you gain rather than about counting summits.

  11. #11
    Initiate
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    Always bear in mind the use of independent providers as well as the centres such as PyB and Glenmore Lodge.

    Is the extra money worth the accomodation when for three days (and two nights) you're out on exped?

    As someone said above, all providers are validated with Mountain Training (formerly MLTB) and all providers are listed there. Many also list their courses on the site too, so you can compare dates / locations.

    I definitely share what others have said above - ML is there for those already with a love and passion for the mountains, and for those wanting to develop their existing skills (hence the pre-reqs for training). Providers do offer a range of really good skills courses for those not yet ready for ML training (in fact MT are offering a new 'hill and mountain skills' course this year for exactly this gap).

    Finally, if alpine climbing is your thing, is the ML the right qual to aim for?

    If you're going there as the pre-req to MIA, then fine.
    Remember there is also IML (although not climbing focused).

    Of course, if you are wanting to fully commit to 'the life' and be an all rounder, then there's always British Mountain Guide - although this is a whole other kettle of fish!!


    If you do want to chat the process of ML, give me a shout...

  12. #12
    Super Moderator Metric Kate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnGeekUK View Post
    Always bear in mind the use of independent providers as well as the centres such as PyB and Glenmore Lodge.

    Is the extra money worth the accomodation when for three days (and two nights) you're out on exped?

    For the Assessment, yes, but for training you're only out one night on the expedition.

  13. #13
    Initiate
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    Depends on how 'flash with the cash' you are then...

  14. #14
    ‹bermensch
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    Start getting Quality Mountain Days. I think you need 60 minimum for ML. Nothing beats experience. Why go on a training course just to learn the basics. Go on it to find what extra you need to know. I also went on the 2 day revision course between the training and assessment just to top up my knowledge. Found it worthwhile..

    Forget WGL if you are aiming higher. There is too much of an overlap.




  15. #15
    Widdler
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    Thanks all the help has been fantastic. The final thing is what are the job prospects like once you have attained these qualifications? I am going to do the summer mountain leader qualification then go on to winter mountain leader once I believe I have done enough myself. Summer mountaineering I have been doing since a very young age but alpine I have only started recently. I would like to progress onto IML aswell but obviously I would have to work towards. I would love a job in this field but as I said I am unsure about what the job world is like for mountain leaders so any information on the would be brilliant also.

    Many thanks

    Adam

  16. #16
    Initiate
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    There are very few mountain leaders who make a living out of it - most will have other qualifications as well, the preferred combination seems to be Mountaineering, Climbing and something water based, and will supplement income by doing pretty much whatever comes along or will have another full time job.

    I am a science teacher and ML, a mate is a youth worker and ML and another mate is a First Aid Instructor, ML, Winter ML, SPA and Mountain Instructor aspirant.

    Dont get me wrong - its not impossible, but is a challenge


  17. #17
    Goon
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    If you have to ask, forget it

  18. #18
    Ultra King Mole's Avatar
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    Harsh!

    Adam might be quite young?

    From what I see, careerwise, Most qualification holders are likely to have a 'normal' job and use mountain experience for 'leisure' and/or volunteering for Mountain Rescue and /or Training.

    My experience:

    At the end of your ML (or WGL) training course, your trainer ought to give you an idea of how much and what type of 'consolidation' they believe you need to do before doing the assessment.

    So, look at the syllabus and make sure you know your strengths/weaknesses. If driven and committed, save yourself disappointment due to being unprepared is my only advice. Maybe find an ML holder (or ML course attendee) and see if you can go out with them and ask about what's needed.

    I did a WGL (as needed for work) 3 years ago. On the training course, there were all sorts of all ages ( Outdoor educators, DoE assessors/teachers etc.) Although I was not particularly experienced at formal group work at the time, I am a reasonable navigator and already had the requisite hill days logged. I was advised to apply immediately for assessment, but to get group experience asap. Others were advised that while they had good group skills, they might spend a year or more walking regularly and polishing their nav skills. One guy was very experienced with youth groups and climbing and canoeing, and even hillwalking, but his nav was obviously lacking. I think he was the most disappointed. (We were interviewed separately but did discuss afterwards with each other).

    On my assessment a couple months later, 2 out of 4 had done ML (not WGL) training. One ML trained person, (funnily enough, the most ebullient and confident 'group' leader) had his WGL deferred on navigation....

    I plan to do ML training this autumn. My lack of experience is the ropework. I will get some training just so I don't feel put on the spot on the course...

  19. #19
    Goon
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    Alright, perhaps I was a bit grumpy this morning.

    If he is quite young would he be able to deal with stroppy teenagers? Or stand up to angry farmers, over protective parents, or a couple of drunks, or light fingered yobbos trying to steal equipment, or a minibus full of tired almost hysterical kids when a tyre bursts and it goes into a ditch? - these things have happened.

    I have been a departmental manager for a large international company, and also a part time volunteer at an outdoor centre. The problem is there will be many applicants and you need to stand out. Besides all the relevant mountaineering qualifications (they're expected, you wouldn't be considered without them), the sorts of things I would be looking for are:-

    A decent knowledge or understanding of computers, GPS, smartphones, and all the rest of the modern gizmos; far better than mine, to be quite honest!

    Can you swim? As you said, something water based; canoeing? a basic lifesaving qualification?

    Any caving experience or qualification?

    Many centres do things like archery, assault courses, zipwires, a bit of bushcraft, diet & nutrition advice, exercise & PE

    Can you drive? Most centres will have a minibus, or a van or something

    First Aid certificate?

    Can you cook? NVQ in cooking or catering? Basic hygiene certificate?

    Have you been, or do you already help with Scouts, Youth Clubs, D of E groups? If not, why not?

    Something that shows you have good & varied experience/ self motivated/ been around - Alps; trip to Greenland?; a summer in the Highlands? Out on the hills regularly, summer & winter. Helped with charity walks? You get the idea.

    Get your CV professionally prepared. Either pay or see if Job Centre, College etc. will help.

    If you are unemployed, a student, or below a certain age (25? 26) there will be various free or subsidised courses and grants available; it's your task to seek them out

    Go on a DIY, building, vehicle mechanics, or similar course. Outdoor centres need a lot of regular maintenance.

  20. #20
    ‹bermensch
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    I agree with all the comments above. Get as much useful (and logged) experience as you can prior to the training course - you'll get more out of it if you do. Then do as much as you can in a variety of mountain areas. You can't beat Scotland for 'ticking boxes' if you want to impress your assessors.

    Have you tried outdoor centres for 'apprenticeships'? A mate in Devon is doing this, gaining skills in many different activities. The guy I was palled up with on my ML training was doing this too, somewhere in N Wales - can't remember the name of the centre. This may be a good way to go. I don't think making a decent living is easy in this field and if you can turn your hand to many things, it will make the difference in getting hard-fought jobs.

    I did the assessment at PyB.I suspect that this may count for something in job quests, even though each assessing centre/person is meant to be working to the same standard. But I wonder if it's a bit like MOTs - one knows who to take a wreck to for an easy pass!

    Just remembered, my son did a fast-track alpine course for younger people a few years ago through PyB. Apparently younger folks learn skills quicker than older ones...

    But good luck!

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