Chris Hobson - Mountain Leader


Chris Hobson has been an MTA member since 2014 and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Read more about his story:
Chris Hobson
MTA 200

Have you always been interested in the outdoors? What inspired you to do a qualification with Mountain Training?

Yes, I’ve always been interested in the outdoors, picking up a leaflet about the Mountain Leader scheme in 1982 as I walked around Derwent Water. As an 12 year old, little did I know what adventures lay ahead.

What awards do you hold? What awards are you working towards?

I currently hold the Mountain Leader award and have completed training in the SPSA (now the Single Pitch Award), EML (now the International Mountain Leader) and Winter Mountain Leader. I undertook the SPSA and EML to get a feel for the awards and develop my personal skills however I’m currently working towards my Winter Mountain Leader Award. Due to the fickleness of the Scottish winter this is difficult to achieve while working outwith the outdoor industry so taking longer than planned however, gaining successful assessment is not a race and I believe better to present as a strong candidate.

What do you do for work?

I work as a project manager in engineering as I found it was too difficult earn a realistic living as a freelance mountain leader. While passionate about the outdoors I’m also a realist.

How do you use (or plan to use) your qualifications?

I use my awards to support award aspirants, train individuals and small groups in mountaincraft/navigation and lead walks. I also use the skills to better my own abilities in the outdoors enabling me to risk asses and be more self-reliant in the mountains. It's allowed me to explore almost every region of the UK from being asked to lead walks as bazar as Oxfordshire, train individuals in hill skills in mid Wales, navigate confidently in whiteouts in Scotland and the Pyrenees and greater ranges of the Himalayas.
Wild camping

What did you find most challenging and most enjoyable about working through your qualifications?

I worked hard towards my Mountain Leader assessment gaining approx. 125 peaks and around 25 overnight camps over all areas of the UK. I found gaining the experience in Wales, Lakes and several areas of Scotland both enjoyable in the varied terrain and experiences. It’s often difficult with putting in the travel required to gain what is a UK award. I’ve always considered this as a UK award so caution those who concentrate their all their training and assessments in one region of the UK. Due to the commitment and hard work I found the assessment one of the most enjoyable holidays I’ve ever had, working hard and still being able to laugh along the way.

What advice would you give to anyone going through their qualifications?

Every day is a school day, get as much experience in the different regions as possible and while you can get experience in England and Wales the distances involved in Scotland dwarf the other regions due to its topography. Don’t tie yourself to one training provider as you still learn even while on assessment and it’s great to meet new friends. Your assessment is the start of the learning curve dealing with the group, ground and weather differs every day. Practice a river crossing, controlled lower and abseil you never know when you will need that skill especially in the wilds of Scotland.

At what stage in your outdoor journey did you join the MTA? What was your main reason for joining?

I became a Mountain Leader after leaving the army and while being a member of a mountain rescue team but I stepped away from the outdoors to concentrate on my professional career then joined the MTA to ensure my CPD days were recorded. I fully support the team who work hard on our behalf although (I do struggle with the DLOG as I didn’t become a mountain leader to spend my days behind a computer).

What do you find most valuable about being a member?

Being able to support the leaders of the future, passing on my experience when asked and being within a professional body.

Have you been on a regional event or CPD workshop?

Yes, I attended the winter CPD days at Glenmore Lodge. I attended workshops on snow holes and steep ground finding them both really rewarding and informative. Im looking forward to attending the next CPD training at the lodge as it just oozes excellence.

Would you recommend the Mountain Training Association to others and why?

Yes, My personal view is the membership is there to represent the needs and concerns of its core members in all elements where the individual may need support with larger organisations or bodies. There are more Mountain Leaders out there than Guides, Mountaineering Instructors or Internatonal Mountain Leaders so the size of the membership should dwarf the other associations. With the support of mountain leaders and others the association should be able to represent the members better to gain their degree of recognition and publicity. This is not to say it should be dictatorial but offer support and guidance to its members.
Panorama

What are your leadership plans for the future?

I’m hoping to complete my winter mountain leader assessment this season or next. The degree of navigation if far higher than that required for summer with the need to be able to navigate accurately in whiteout and foul weather. The understanding of the snowpack I find fascinating while we get to enjoy all the fun of sleeping in snow holes or similar shelters.

If you had a day to go for a walk or climb anywhere, where would it be and why?

That’s an easy question – A winter day high in the Pyrenees, I’ve spent two weeks backpacking and snow showing in mid-winter using the hut system based from near Bagnères-de-Luchon on the French/Spanish boarder. Even in white out for four hours the day was great, while still carrying emergency equipment to be independent the hut system is excellent. I had the chance to spot an ibex and a wolf even and even mastered the art of cross country skiing although the arms were waving a little more than the professionals. Basically if you can walk you can snowshoe with the same knowledge of the snowpack and standard of navigation required for a Scottish winter day.

Chris Hobson's outdoor journey