International Mountain Leader FAQs


1/Do I need to have passed my Mountain Leader before registering and applying for the International Mountain Leader scheme?

Yes. You must have passed the Mountain Leader assessment prior to registering for the International Mountain Leader scheme. The registration is an application process and will be verified by a Technical Officer after submitting your DLOG for approval.

2/In what order do I need to do all the training and assessment courses?

After you have successfully registered, the order is as follows...
  • Summer training
  • Either: Summer assessment (once you have passed the Speed Navigation Test) or winter training (the order of these two is not important)
  • Winter Assessment

3/How do I become an International Mountain Leader if I have qualifications from outside the UK and Ireland?

Check whether your walking leadership qualification(s) are accredited by the UIAA. Check here http://www.uiaaweb.org/mountain-qualifications.html.

If they are, you can apply for exemption from the Mountain Leader aspect of the International Mountain Leader scheme by contacting the office at info@mountain-training.org. You will also need to send proof of certificates and supporting documents such as a disclosure from your national association to confirm that there are no convictions pending. Our technical officers for Mountain Training UK will then review these documents and inform the customer service team whether they are happy that the Iinternational Mountain Leader award from the different country is acceptable to our standards.

If they are not, you should register for the Mountain Leader award and apply for exemption from training. If this exemption is successful you can then proceed directly to a Mountain Leader assessment. If it is not successful you will need to attend a Mountain Leader training course first. Once you’ve completed your UK Mountain Leader assessment you can then register for the International Mountain Leader scheme.
http://www.uiaaweb.org/mountain-qualifications.html.

4/What experience do I need to become an International Mountain Leader?

As well as being an experienced Mountain Leader, you need an absolute minimum of 20 quality international summer mountain days, and 20 quality UK or international winter mountain days to register for the International Mountain Leader award. This experience should represent your best, most exciting or memorable days in the mountains. You could be by yourself, or with a group as long as you are fully involved in all the decision-making. For this reason, those days where you are part of a led group or are being guided are less valuable, but can still be recorded in your DLOG.

5/What is a Quality International Summer Mountain Day?

A quality international summer mountain day should be a mountain day outside of the UK and Ireland and include more than half of the following criteria:
  • In an environment below 3000 metres, the day should include a height gain of approximately 1000 metres
  • In an environment above 3000 metres the day should include a height gain of approximately 300 metres
  • A journey of a minimum of five hours
  • Navigational skills should be used including the use of a map, compass, altimeter or GPS
  • Decision-making about route choice and judgement of terrain
  • Planning involving the use of a weather forecast
  • Ascending and/or descending steep broken ground
  • Negotiating sections of fixed equipment and/or small sections of snow as part of the normal mountain journey
  • Appreciating the environment and increasing one’s environmental knowledge

6/What is a Quality International Winter Mountain Day?

A quality international winter mountain day should be a mountain day outside of the UK and Ireland, and include more than half of the following criteria:
  • Must involve movement and travel on snow
  • Must include ascent and/or descent
  • A journey of a minimum of five hours
  • Planning involving the use of weather and avalanche forecasts
  • Navigational skills should be used, including the use of a map, compass, altimeter or GPS
  • Making progress in poor or worsening weather conditions
  • Decision-making about route choice and judgement of terrain
  • Evaluating the snowpack and avalanche hazard throughout the day and making ongoing decisions based on these
  • Appreciating the winter environment and increasing one’s environmental knowledge
Summer Alpine conditions on snowy terrain will not normally qualify as fulfilling enough of these criteria, apart from in exceptionally bad weather conditions.

7/Does skiing count towards my winter experience?

Although you should record all your skiing experience, only those days spent ski touring that ALSO meet the requirements of a quality international winter mountain day will count towards the minimum required, and should account for only part of your overall winter experience. The strongest International Mountain Leader candidates have logged a varied mix of Scottish winter mountaineering, and quality international winter days on foot, snow-shoe or ski.

8/I have completed a lot of other winter training courses, do I need to attend the International Mountain Leader training course?

Candidates who have completed a comparable non-UK training course may apply to MTUK to be considered for equivalence: only UIMLA, IFMGA or UIAA accredited courses will be considered for this. Although we recommend attending a winter International Mountain Leader training course, candidates with exceptional experience who have successfully completed assessment for either Winter Mountain Leader, Mountaineering Instructor Certificate, or British Mountain Guides winter can apply to the Mountain Training office for exemption from the International Mountain Leader winter training course. Appropriate logged avalanche training (e.g. Alpine snowpack) and snowshoe experience is also required. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The fee for the exemption application is £50.00 non-refundable.

9/Where can I work once I become an International Mountain Leader?

International Mountain Leaders are eligible to join the Union of International Mountain Leader Associations (UIMLA) through their national association, and enjoy reciprocal rights through this international organisation. You will be able to work within the remit according to national law within any country. In countries with a regulated industry (e.g. France and Switzerland, amongst others) you will be able to apply to register to work as a professional.

10/How much environmental knowledge is required for an International Mountain Leader?

An important role of an International Mountain Leader is to help clients to appreciate the mountain environment, demonstrating good stewardship and helping to understand the rich bio-diversity, history and culture. A reasonable all-round interest, curiosity, respect and empathy are more important than any specific knowledge; you will meet role models and receive guidance throughout the course and subsequently through association membership. Key to this is applying appropriate background research before any trip and developing local awareness of your “home patch” in order to compare and contrast.