Rachel Lardner - aspiring Mountain Leader


MTA 200
Rachel has been an MTA member since early 2017 and is working towards her Mountain Leader qualification. Read more about her journey:
Rachel Lardner

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

I’ve always been keen on mountain walking, and have been lucky enough to have a group of friends who will usually come along with me on whatever trip I’m planning, but have always relied on me to pick the route and do the map reading. I had a bit of a wakeup call one day when I was out walking with friends and become disorientated in thick fog. Although we made it down to the pub without any problems, I decided that I needed to have the skills to keep my friends and myself safe whatever the conditions. I went on a navigation course at Plas y Brenin, which opened my eyes to the mountain training awards, and immediately set my sights on working towards a summer mountain leader award.

What award/s are you working towards?

I’m working towards my Mountain Leader award. When I found out about the award, I already had enough experience to book onto the training course. It was a tough week in terms of intensity and skill development, but thoroughly enjoyable. I’m now working on consolidating my experience and refining my skills before I book my assessment.

What do you do for work?

I work for the NHS as a physiotherapist.
Rachel Lardner

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

At the moment, I don’t have a firm plan. I’ve had no shortage of opportunities to use my skills on a voluntary basis while I’ve been working towards my assessment, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to inspire people who don’t usually go mountain walking to give it a go.

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

Living in the South of England has been the biggest challenge. I initially thought that it would take me years to find opportunities to make sure my navigation and other skills were at the level required for the Mountain Leader assessment. But I’ve been creative, and found that you can work on navigation skills by taking part in local orienteering events; that it’s possible to use playground equipment as anchors to practice ropework; and by going to MTA events locally I’ve had opportunities to challenge those skills more regularly. The most enjoyable part has definitely been getting out there and building up my experience. It has been the best excuse I’ve ever had to plan trips away!

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

I’ve found it really useful to have kept in touch with the other participants on my Mountain Leader training course. It’s been really useful to be able to ask questions or bounce ideas off other people in the same boat, and has helped me to stay motivated.

Rachel Lardner

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

I joined the MTA after I’d heard about the benefits on my Mountain Leader training course. I was initially a bit daunted by the prospect of having to develop all the knowledge and skills I knew I’d need to perfect before attempting the assessment. The range of workshops that are available to MTA members is pretty impressive, and I’ve learnt a lot through reading the magazine too.

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

I went on a night navigation evening workshop in the Chilterns. It’s a skill I’m less confident in, so I was really pleased to spend a few hours practising with other people, sharing ideas and techniques rather than being out in the dark on my own. For me, practising in lowland terrain was a game changer- I didn’t have to worry about finding an obscure target in complex terrain, so found I could focus on the strategies and skills. It has given me so much more confidence to practice my skills when I’ve been out on my own in mountainous terrain. I’m booked to go on a steep ground and ropework evening workshop, also in the Chilterns next month. It’s great to know that there are opportunities to refine my skills close to home.

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

I’d definitely recommend the MTA as a way of staying up to speed with news and providing opportunities to develop skills.

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

Definitely the Lake District. It’s where I first really got into climbing mountains, and it’s still my favourite place to go for a walk.

Rachel Lardner's outdoor journey