Learn Training Mountain Training Winter Mountain Leader qualification

Mountain Training Winter Mountain Leader qualification


Taking people walking in winter conditions is far more demanding on the leader than the same journey in summer conditions. If you’d like to get paid to guide people up hills in winter conditions, or you simply want to know what you’re doing and how to look after your friends in winter, the Winter Mountain Leader Award could be for you.

Who is it for?

The Winter Mountain Leader Award is for people who want to lead groups of hill walkers in mountainous or remote areas, in winter conditions (probably requiring the use of an axe and crampons), without planning to use a rope. Often regarded as one of the toughest Mountain Training qualifications, the Winter Mountain Leader award builds on the Mountain Leader award, which is a prerequisite.

What does it cover?

The award is designed for use in the mountainous regions of the UK and Ireland in winter conditions, with Scotland often regarded as the award’s natural home. Key topics include security on steep ground, navigation, snow and avalanches, with each being an integral part of leading groups in the winter. There’s also plenty of digging (to observe the snowpack/dig a snow hole) and counting (while pacing during navigation) involved.

This award is often used by outdoor instructors and other people likely to take groups out in the winter. It can also be used as a stepping stone to the Mountaineering Instructor Certificate, which involves (among other things) teaching winter climbing.

How does it work?

As with all Mountain Training awards, there is a level of experience you must reach before completing a training or assessment course. For the Winter Mountain Leader Award this focuses on Quality Mountain Days in winter conditions. Pass your Mountain Leader Award, get some personal experience in the winter, register for the award and do a training course. Then consolidate your learning, go for assessment and continue developing as a Winter Mountain Leader.

FIND a course on the Mountain Training website

CASE STUDY: Crystal Patton, Winter Mountain Leader

"I work as a course director and instructor at an outdoor education centre in North Wales. I went to uni at Liverpool John Moores to study Outdoor and Environmental Education, and as part of our course we were encouraged to go through our Mountain Leader and Single Pitch training as soon as we were able to. This started the ball rolling, I knew I wanted to pursue a job in outdoor education.

You can climb a mountain numerous times in summer conditions but in winter it can be a completely different place and is a really unique experience. Being able to facilitate other’s enjoyment of this was a huge factor in wanting to lead groups in winter. Also from a professional development point of view I think it is really good to keep learning and Winter Mountain Leader was always a qualification that I had held in high regard.

My advice would be, don’t let the fear of the unknown or your perception of the award hold you back. The fact that the award is well respected is a double edged sword - it makes you aspire to it but it's easy to listen to people’s tales of suffering and believe it is virtually unobtainable! It is hard work but it is not so hard that you can't achieve it by putting in the time and effort."