Rob Johnson
Mountaineering Instructor (MIC)
& International Mountain Leader
Photo: Admiring the Milky Way on an ML Training Wild Camp

Mountain Leader Courses in Snowdonia

The mountains of the UK are remote, technical and exposed to harsh and unpredictable weather. This makes them a hazardous place for novice walkers and the ML is designed to help responsible leaders who wish to operate in mountainous terrain in summer conditions. ML courses develop your group management skills, the ability to navigate in all conditions, the ability to deal with mountain hazards (including steep ground) and increase your awareness of environmental issues. There is an expedition element to the scheme. The Mountain Leader scheme is overseen by Mountain Training UK (MTUK).

I provide both ML Training and ML Assessment courses as well as ML Refresher workshop days that qualify as CPD points with the Mountain Training Association. I am an approved provider of these courses with Mountain Training Cymru (MTC). I can also provide the Lowland Leader Award for group bookings.

Our ML courses are designed to educate, motivate and inspire and to help you to do the same! If you would like to know more about how the qualification structure works in the UK and whether it can work for you, scroll down to the foot of the page.


Mountain Leader Training: Based in Snowdonia a 6 day training course including a night of wild camping.

Mountain Leader Assessment: For people that have completed ML Training and the other pre-requirements.

Security on Steep Ground Refresher: A single day of refresher training looking at security on steep ground. MTA CPD Approved.

Advanced Navigation Day: A single day of advanced navigation training using contour only mapping. MTA CPD approved.


Can it work for you?
For many people the idea of turning their hobby into their full or part time occupation is a dream, the idea of these pages is to help you establish whether that dream can become a reality.

The following pages provide a background on working in the outdoors, an explanation of how the qualification structure in the UK works and finally details of our instructor mentor scheme and some useful additional links and information.

If you have any questions then just drop me an email

Rob Johnson
BSc (Hons) MIC & IML

About working in the outdoors

To take people walking, climbing or mountaineering in the UK you don't legally need any formal qualification, unless you are working with under 18's. If you don't have any qualifications then you will need to demonstrate that you are qualified by experience. As an employer I look for a formal qualification as a minimum, backed up with additional personal experience and competence.

The qualification process is described in the next page but is fundamentally based on having a breadth of personal experience in the mountains before progressing onto leading others.

If you would like to pursue a career in the mountains then you must first be competent yourself in the sphere that you wish to work in. You have several options available to you:

Hillwalking in the UK:

Mountain Leader: The appropriate qualification for leading groups in the UK Mountains in summer conditions, the syllabus covers group leadership, navigation, security on steep ground, expedition skills, emergency ropework, rescue drills and environmental awareness. The Mountain Leader award is for people who are experienced hill walkers who would like to lead other people in the mountains. Before you attend a training course you should be a competent navigator and hill walker. For Mountain Leader training courses click here.

Employment Prospects: You will be abe to work on a self employed basis taking your own clients hill walking anywhere in the mountains of the UK for a fee. You may also pick up freelance work from outdoor centres and companies but competition is fierce as there are literally thousands of Mountain Leaders out there. This is one of the basic awards that you need to allow you to progress to the other awards. It is hard to make a full time career with the ML but you could earn some extra pocket money on a part time basis.

Winter Mountain Leader:The winter version of the Mountain Leader allows you to take groups hillwalking in winter conditions and teach basic winter skills such as ice axe arrest and how to use ice axe and crampons.

Employment Prospects: As per the summer award but in winter! The Winter ML has been acknowledged as being educationally equivalent to a degree and is a valued award that opens up your employment prospects to 12 months of the year.

Rock Climbing

Site Specific Award:
If you are looking to supervise groups climbing at just 1 climbing wall then it could be that the site specific award is ideal. We provide training and assessment over two days at your climbing wall and this validates you for a 12 month period. Click here

Climbing Wall Award:
Qualifies the holder to supervise people climbing at climbing walls across the UK. There will be bolt on elements to cover abseiling and lead climbing on climbing walls.

Employment Prospects: The award is recognised throughout the UK and so you will be able to pick up full or part time contracts at climbing walls. Be prepared to work evenings and weekends for a low hourly rate.

Single Pitch Award: Qualifies the holder to supervise people climbing and abseiling on single pitch crags across the UK.  Before registering and attending a training course you will need to be happy leading your own climbs. Before attending assessment you will need to be happy leading Severe.

Employment Prospects: You will be abe to work on a self employed basis taking your own clients single pitch rock climbing in the UK for a fee. You may also pick up freelance work from outdoor centres and companies but as with the Mountain Leader competition is fierce as there are lots of SPA holders to choose from.

Mountaineering, Climbing & Walking

Mountaineering Instructor Award and Certificate: These are the two professional instructional awards in the UK. If you want a full time career in the mountains then this is where you need to aim to be. The awards are explained in more detail on the next page but the MIA allows you to instruct in all aspects of rock climbing, mountaineering and hillwalking in summer conditions whilst the MIC does the same in winter.

Employment Prospects: Once you hold these awards you will be able to make a full time living in the outdoors with a bit of marketing savvy and some contacts. Once you hold the MIA you can join the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI) and use their logo and benefit from their marketing power, gear deals, insurance and training workshops.

Hillwalking Internationally:

International Mountain Leader: This internationally recognised award provides you with a carnet to take people hillwalking or snow shoeing anywhere in the world on non technical ground ie ground that does not require the techniques of alpinism or climbing. You can lead walking holidays in the Alps, Pyrenees, Arctic etc

Employment Prospects: You can earn good money with this award on a freelance or self employed basis and the award is becoming more sought after and more highly valued with time. Freelance rates in the Alps are currently around £145 per day.

Next Page: The qualification structure



Mountain adventures to educate, motivate and inspire -