Winter Mountain Leader FAQs


1/ How do I register on the Winter Mountain Leader Scheme?

You must first have passed your Mountain Leader award

Winter Mountain Leader registration is conditional on your submitted experience application, showing a minimum of 20 Winter Quality Mountain Days (QMDs), being vetted and approved by Mountain Training Scotland.

Assuming you have the above then there are four stages to registering for the Winter Mountain Leader Award:

1. Register for the Winter Mountain leader scheme on the Candidate Management System. You will then be sent an email from Mountain Training asking to to submit your experience for vetting via the new digital on-line logbook (DLOG)

2. Enter your winter QMDs into DLOG

3. Notify MTS your DLOG is up to date and shows a minimum of 20 QMDs.

4. Your winter QMDs in DLOG are reviewed by MTS and if meets the minimum requirements your registration on the Winter ML scheme is approved, and you are notified by email.

Please note that until you have received confirmation of your registration having been approved you should not book nor attend a Winter ML Training course.

2/ What is a Quality Mountain Day?

The full definition of a Quality Mountain Day (or QMD) can be found at the following LINK. Simply put QMDs are the absolute cream of your mountain experience, your top best challenging days.

3/ Do days assisting or observing another leader/instructor count as quality mountain days?

In a word, no.

Quality Mountain Days involve the individual taking part in the planning and leadership; navigation skills are required; and attention is paid to safety. Whilst observing/assisting a qualified leader/instructor they are the ones who retain the responsibility for the group and ultimately have the final say on what is done and how it is done. These criteria mean that days assisting/observing a qualified leader/instructor working are very unlikely to meet the requirements of a Winter Quality Mountain Day.

In saying that they are valuable for developing experience so are still worth recording – just it is unlikely they will count as QMDs.

The full definition of a Quality Mountain Day (or QMD) can be found at the following LINK.

4/ What about days as a course member under instruction then?

Again similar reasons to the above.

Quality Mountain Days involve the individual taking part in the planning and leadership; navigation skills are required; and attention is paid to safety. Whilst under instruction the leader/instructor are the ones who retain the responsibility for the group and ultimately have the final say on what is done and how it is done. These criteria mean that days under instruction are very unlikely to meet the requirements of a Winter Quality Mountain Day.

In saying that they are valuable for developing experience so are still worth recording – just it is unlikely they will count as QMDs.

The full definition of a Quality Mountain Day (or QMD) can be found at the following LINK.

5/ Do I need to have completed my ten Grade I routes to register?

No. The requirement for ten Grade I routes is only when you come to do your assessment i.e. you can do them after you have completed your training.

6/ Why do I need to have completed some winter climbs when it’s a hillwalking leadership award?

In winter time the boundary between hillwalking and mountaineering is very blurred. For example very icy underfoot conditions coupled with snow build-up can turn what was an innocuous slope into something far more technical and challenging. In such a situation the Winter Mountain Leader has to be able to move about the ground in a skilful, relaxed and efficient manner so that they can devote their full attention to managing their team. Hence there is a requirement for a Winter ML to be able to move about on this type of mountaineering terrain. It can be difficult to quantify whether candidates have this experience, hence having a requirement to have completed 10 Grade I climbs or equivalent mountaineering routes is a shorthand way of ensuring that a Winter ML candidate has definitely had experience of moving on steep terrain.

7/ I’ve registered but I’ve not heard from Mountain Training?

Registration is conditional on your submitted experience application, showing a minimum of 20 Winter Quality Mountain Days (QMDs), being vetted and approved by Mountain Training Scotland (MTS).

So first off - please double check you have actually submitted your experience to the office at Mountain Training Scotland to have your experience checked. To do this either email/post your completed form (if you are using the older method) or notify MTS your DLOG is up to date and shows a minimum of 20 QMDs. At busy times this process can take a week or so to complete although normally we do try to process applications by return. Around November/December is the busiest time so the processing time may take a bit longer.

Whether or not your application is successful you will receive an email confirming the result. Sometimes this email may be caught by your email spam filter – so please check your ‘Junk Mail’ box in your email.

8/ I’ve not received my logbook and Winter ML Handbook?

With development of the new on-line digital logbook or DLOG the old style paper logbooks are no longer being sent out. To use DLOG please check out the following LINK.

The new Winter ML Handbook is now digital only. When you complete the registration process you will receive a copy via your confirmation email from Mountain Training Scotland.

9/ What are the first aid requirements for Winter Mountain Leader?

First Aid is an essential skill and the Winter Mountain Leader assessment requires a current first aid qualification. The minimum requirement is that such a course must involve at least two days or sixteen hours of training and include an element of assessment.

Candidates are further expected to undertake such additional elements of first aid training as are consistent with their role in wild and remote country in the winter environment, including emergency assistance and evacuation techniques. It is the responsibility of the award holder and/or their employers to evaluate their likely role and the type of situations that they can reasonably expect to encounter and to maintain current appropriate first aid training and qualifications.

10/ Can I still attend a winter ML training course if I don't want to do the assessment?

Unless a candidate has registered on the Winter ML scheme, and had their registration approved, they cannot attend the training course.

Why? It’s a training course for potential winter leaders and as such assumes basic competency as a winter walker/mountaineer. This award builds on the skills learnt through the Mountain Leader scheme to prepare candidates for the complexities associated with taking people out walking in winter conditions in the UK. Thus candidates must have passed their summer ML before registering and be active and experienced winter walkers/mountaineers.

So to be able to take on board the syllabus topics covered at training, look after themselves in often extremely hostile weather conditions, and practice the skills and techniques covered during training candidates’ MUST have this foundation of experience and skills. This is why it’s not a ‘learn how to be a winter walker/mountaineer’ course – before attending this course candidates should have these fundamentals.

How does Mountain Training Scotland assume basic competency? Candidates register so we can first check they have passed their summer ML, thus have a leadership ‘tool kit’. They then submit their experience of a MINIMUM of 20 Quality Mountain Days (which provides evidence of basic competency as a winter walker/mountaineer and is checked personally by MTS Technical staff – themselves experienced mountaineers with 30+ years experience of winter walking and mountaineering, personally and professionally) to be approved.

The assumption being that with such a tally of experience candidates can at least do basic skills and look after themselves in such a serious winter environment. By ensuring that only those who attend a training course meet this basic requirement trainers can focus on how leaders use their core skills, technical and leadership, for looking after, managing and teaching others. Rather than teaching basic skills from scratch.

If an individual has their Summer ML and the required winter experience then there is nothing stopping them from registering, having their application approved and attending training. From that point it’s entirely down to the candidate whether they wish to progress onto assessment to be assessed for the award. However it would be hoped by this stage having come so far a candidate would progress onto assessment in due course, and to be honest the vast majority do, around 90% in fact.


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