Alex Kendall's outdoor journeyAlex Kendall has been an MTA member for 6 years and is a qualified Winter Mountain Leader working in the outdoors. Read more about his outdoor journey here...
Have you always been interested in the outdoors? What inspired you to do a qualification with Mountain Training?
I've always enjoyed being in the outdoors, from holidays to Wales and Devon when I was small, to walking weeks in Austria and Switzerland when I was a bit bigger. It was during my degree that I really got into mountain walking in the UK, and started leading groups. Aiming for the Summer ML seemed like a perfect way to get some validation for what I'd already been doing for my club, and at the time I never thought it would become my job!
What awards do you hold? What awards are you working towards?
I have my Mountain Leader and Winter Mountain Leader, and I'm working (slowly) towards my International Mountain Leader.
What do you do for work?
I like to do a variety of things, from working with young people on Duke of Edinburgh and long overseas expeditions, to leading adult groups on walking weekends and long-distance trails. Having just got my Winter Mountain Leader at the beginning of the year I'd like to add more snow-based fun to my work. Alongside group work, I write website content and blogs for Large Outdoors, and am writing a guide book for Cicerone.
How do you use (or plan to use) your qualifications?
I use them for work every day! I'd like to increase the amount of winter work I do.
What did you find most challenging and most enjoyable about working through your qualifications?
The best bit about any training or assessment course is learning from people who are some of the best at what they do. You also meet some great peers and when you look back there are excellent memories, even from assessment! The challenging bit during the consolidation periods are remembering to stop and go through the technical bits (like rope-work for the ML and anchors etc. for the winter ML) when you just want to have a nice day in the hills. There were a lot of lonely days in the mountains in January and February this year hacking at the snow-pack with my ice axe for various reasons before I felt happy enough to go for assessment.
What advice would you give to anyone going through their qualifications?
Have a think about why you're doing it in the first place. That should be motivation enough. If you enjoy the idea of leading people, or teaching skills in the outdoors, then there's no better job. Do qualifications in things you enjoy, and be excited that you'll have the chance to pass your enthusiasm and skills on to groups when you pass your award.
At what stage in your outdoor journey did you join the MTA? What was your main reason for joining?
I joined when I passed my Summer ML. It just felt like the natural step to be part of a wider group of people, to get support and continue learning beyond the award.
What do you find most valuable about being a member?
Getting the chance to sign up to CPD and being part of a network. The workshops I've done have been brilliant, and have definitely made me a better leader.
Have you been on a regional event or CPD workshop?
Two CPD days I've been on recently were a look at management of Wild Ennerdale with Friends of the Lake District, and a bird ID course in the Brecon Beacons. They were both excellent and totally backed up my belief that a good leader in the outdoors has a responsibility to try and learn as much as possible about the landscape and nature, and to pass that knowledge on.
Would you recommend the Association to others?
Yes, just to be part of a wider network of similar people, and for all you'll get out of it.
What are your leadership plans for the future?
I'm just planning on carrying on as I am, working for some great companies and enjoying freelancing. I'd like to continue to increase my environmental knowledge, especially my species ID. People really respond well when you give them a few interesting observations about the wildlife or ecosystem you're walking through. I'm even trying to understand geology...
If you had a day to go for a walk or climb anywhere, where would it be and why?
I've recently been discovering the mountains of Italy, so I'll take a day walking in the Apennines, followed by pizza and lots of wine.