Well it’s been a wee whiley since my last post but an absence of information certainly is not an indication of a lack of activity! Since I last blogged, I’ve started the IML course to be a guide that is shaping up to absorb my life for the next couple of years. What I’m talking about is International Mountain Leader training.
I started the process 2 weeks ago at Glenmore Lodge in Scotland. I completed the first of many stages that will be required to gaining the qualification that I hope will enable me to share my love of the mountains with other wannabe mountain goats.
It was an amazing and intense week of learning. But perhaps the biggest revelation of all was the realization of exactly just how much commitment this is all going to require.
International Mountain Leader training first requires that first you get your Mountain Leader qualification. This involves the week of training that I’ve just finished, then a year of consolidation of the necessary skills and experience, and after that a week long assessment.
Should you be successful you are then eligible to join the IML course to be a guide it is structured in the same way. A week of training, a year of consolidation and only then can you put yourself forward for the assessment week which takes place in the Alps.
2 year IML course to be a guide!
Essentially we’re looking at a good two years before I’ll be able to start work out in the Alps where I live. At the grand old age of 35, 2 years seems like a very long time. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve questioned whether it’s worth it.
Before I went on the course I didn’t really believe that it could possibly take that long to get fully qualified. I sort of thought that all the stuff that I’ve already done would enable me to fast track it a bit.
After all, I’ve climbed all over the world, ski mountaineered in the Rockies and trekked in the Himalayas. I even live in the Alps so surely this would all mean that I’d get there faster than someone who lives in say…Hull or Birmingham? Apparently not.
The ML and IML qualifications are absolutely not about how many mountains you’ve climbed and in how many countries. Of course that counts for a lot but way more important is your ability to prove that you can inspire your group, communicate, adapt, lead and above all, provide a safe environment for your clients to enjoy what is essentially a potentially dangerous environment.
Mother Nature doesn’t care how many summits you’ve been up and if you don’t know what to do in a tricky situation, then she will eat you up and spit you out. Contrary to popular belief, the most expensive 3-layer Gore-tex jacket and the latest GPS do not guarantee safety in the harsh mountain environment.
It’s about knowledge and experience and these can only be earned. Having spent a week learning emergency rope work, mountain rescue techniques, and practicing how to lead groups on steep ground. Plus navigating around the Cairngorms at night, I now have a far greater respect for the qualification and what it entails.
International Mountain Leader training
I now understand that to pass the IML course to be a guide you need to be able to prove to yourself and the assessors that you are able to deal with all situations, and in all conditions. And you need to be able to do this over and over again.
Becoming a leader takes time and I’ve decided that I’m in it for the long haul….but first I’d better just have a cup of tea and a bit of cake.
If you are thinking about doing the International Mountain Leader training you can find out more at the British Association of International Mountain Leaders: www.baiml.org