I’ve had my eye on the Mountain Leader training course for a year or so now. Well, it’s actually been on my radar for a couple of years, but when I first heard of it it seemed out of the realms of possibility for me. Recently however, I’ve started to think that yes, I would quite like to give this a go.
The training is the first part of a three stage process that involves six days of intensive training, a consolidation period – where you practice the skills learnt in your own time, logging a minimum of 20 days – and a three day assessment. In fact, to qualify to go on the training you need to have logged 20 ‘quality mountain days’, so I guess you’re looking at a four stage process.
Passing the assessment qualifies you to lead groups in the mountains of the U.K. during the non-winter months. Summer Mountain Leaders may progress to the Winter training and assessment, the International level and beyond.
I have my eye on a course at the end of July in Snowdonia in North Wales and am currently building up my 20 days. Unfortunately my hiking experience abroad (aka the bulk of it) doesn’t count, as the course is based on the U.K. OS maps system. And in fairness, a well marked GR route in the sun is quite a different story to a craggy path on a Lakeland Fell. I’m on about 15 days now and should be able to get up to 20 ahead of the course starting.
I’m not sure what I plan to do with the training and whether I’ll go on to the actual assessment. I figure that it will at least be really useful to me in my personal adventures and will allow me to feel a little more confident by myself and when I take friends with me.
My secret hope, however, is actually that I completely love it, go on to complete the assessment and become a part time mountain leader for a couple of months a year. In California. (Ok so I’ll need a green card and an international qualification for that… but a girl can dream).
This is my ‘secret’ hope as I’m a bit scared that I won’t love it. I’m a little scarred by my experience last year of jumping into professional training for a previously loved hobby (unrelated to hiking) and just… hating it.
It was such a disappointment to realise that making something that I love my work just ruined it for me. But I’m hoping that this was largely due to a few other factors, including the financial implications and an unfortunate injury, rather than the simple act of professionalising it.
I do love to plan trips for my friends and get a bit of a kick out of being able to offer advice. But I’m also a little nervous at the idea of being a ‘leader’ in any official sense. I always shied away from leading groups in my running club and the thought of being responsible for a bunch of novices on a mountain top is rather scary (although a tiny bit thrilling, too).
I guess we’ll see. And a week long course and a few hundred pounds is hardly the biggest commitment.
Maybe I should just sign up?