Louise Buchanan - aspiring Mountain Leader


Louise has been an MTA member since autumn 2016 and is working towards her Mountain Leader qualification. Read more about her journey:
MTA 200
Louise Buchanan

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

I’ve always loved the outdoors be it horse-riding, mountain biking, kayaking or hiking. If something involves me throwing myself up, down, around or off a mountain or anything involving water then I’m always first in the queue. I was inspired to do a qualification with Mountain Training initially to improve my mountain skills and challenge myself in physical and mental ways my day job doesn’t.

What award/s are you working towards?

I’m working towards my Mountain Leader. I’ve completed my training and am now in the consolidation period working towards my assessment in the next 6-9 months.

What do you do for work?

I’m an IT consultant specialising in delivering complex IT transition and transformation programmes – I’ll leave it at that!

How do you plan to use your qualification/s in the future?

I want to inspire other people to get out and enjoy our wonderful national parks in the UK in a safe, responsible and respectful way while having huge amounts of fun!

What have you found most challenging and most enjoyable so far about working through your qualification?

The most enjoyable part so far was the overnight expedition during training. Even for Wales the weather was terrible with gales and torrential rain and despite being out in the elements for two days and a night I loved every minute of it – even the midnight night nav!

Lake OHara
The most challenging part for me so far was my first solo wild camp - which isn’t a requirement but something I decided to challenge myself to do as I had a complete mental block over it. It’s incredible how loud even the slightest noise seems in the middle of the night when you’re in a tent, on your own, up a mountain. It isn’t something I would ever have even thought of doing before I started my ML training and I was quite chuffed with myself after I’d done it.

What advice would you give to anyone going through this process?

Go for it. Do go into it with an awareness of the amount of effort you’ll need to put in though. Driving to areas of the UK which meet QMD (quality mountain day) criteria in Friday night traffic, hiking and wild camping for two days and then driving back in Sunday night traffic is exhausting. For me it’s a happy exhaustion though which makes it all worthwhile – although I need to remind myself of that when I’m stationary on a motorway for hours on end!
Hay Stacks

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

I joined the MTA as soon as I registered for the Mountain Leader scheme as I wanted access to as much support as I could get from the start. So far I’ve made most use out of the gear deals and discounts available. I find the Professional Mountaineer magazine to be full of interesting articles – I expected the content to be all climbing and it isn’t at all.

Have you been on a MTA regional event or MTA CPD workshop yet?

I’m booked to attend my first events in the next couple of months. I think the variety of workshops available is excellent and I’m planning on attending as many courses as I can to help prepare for my assessment to top up my skills on steep ground management, rope-work etc.

Would you recommend the Association to others. If so, why?

I would definitely recommend the MTA. I’ve found the community and support available, as well as the skills development and networking opportunities, to be really useful during training and look forward to getting even more out of it when I qualify.
Louise Buchanan - kayaking

What are your leadership plans for the future?

At the moment all of my focus is on passing my summer Mountain Leader assessment and then I’ll take it from there.

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

If I could walk anywhere it would be a day in Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park in Canada. To protect the wildlife and environment the park controls hiking access, with only a small number of passes being made available when the area is accessible during the summer months. The hiking includes areas of trails, boulder fields and scree slopes all of which you can experience without another soul around. With the chance you’ll encounter bears and other wildlife the hiking through stunning hanging valleys, alongside crystal blue lakes and seeing views which genuinely take your breath away make it my number one.

Louise Buchanan's outdoor journey