Top Tips for Progressing from Mountain Leader to Mountain Instructor

Ideas by Chris, words by Anne

Congratulations! You’ve passed your assessment, and you’re now a Mountain Leader. That might be as far as you want to go with outdoor qualifications, and that’s fine – well done for getting this far. But on the other hand you might want to progress further and go for Winter Mountain Leader (winter ML), Mountain Instructor Award (MIA), or International Mountain Leader (IML). We’ll be focusing on MIA here. It is a big step up, but here are some tips to make it easier.

The Inaccessible Pinnacle, Cuillins of Skye. Photo courtesy of Jordan Manley

The Inaccessible Pinnacle, Cuillins of Skye. Photo courtesy of Jordan Manley

Be aware that the scheme might be changing

Mountain Training have been undertaking a huge review of all the climbing awards, and some big changes are in the pipeline – new courses, new awards, and changes to current awards.

Get the Single Pitch Award

This is not currently a pre-requisite for MIA, as shown in an excellent Mountain Training infographic in this blog post, but it is a recommendation, and you will find it really useful.

SPA course in Langdale

SPA course in Langdale

Go climbing lots

This might sound obvious, but you need to be happy at VS before you do your MIA training. If you make it your aim to be happy at HVS/E1, then you’ll have a few grades in hand. You’ll be much more relaxed, less focused on yourself, and more able to think about your clients. When I assess people for the Single Pitch Award, those who climb above the minimum requirement have a much easier time on assessment – without exception.

Tick off lots of mountaineering routes

The Cuillins of Skye, Glencoe, Ben Nevis - go for big days out on long mountaineering routes and scrambly terrain.

Climbing on Pavey Ark

Climbing on Pavey Ark

Observe as many instructors and guides as you can

The more you see people work, the better. Be a magpie – collect as much info from as many people as you can. When you see someone do something really well, think about why it works. When you see someone doing something that doesn’t work well, think about why and try to avoid those same mistakes.

Work with a variety of client groups

Most people have a preferred client group, and become very good at working with those people. You need to be able to change your approach to suit your current audience, and this only comes with experience.

Don’t be put off by horror stories

You might hear tales of woe from friends who have started off on the scheme, but it is very doable if you are a competent climber and mountaineer.

And finally - have fun!

Take it seriously, but don’t lose your passion for the mountains. If you’re having fun, your clients will be too.

Need a bit of help?

We offer bespoke climbing days which can be tailored to provide a great introduction to the MIA or to give a pre-assessment brush-up.