Rehna Yaseen

Mountain Training is excited to announce that Rehna Yaseen, youth worker and Mountain Leader, is now an official Mountain Training ambassador!

Rehna Yaseen at Everest base camp

What do you do for work?

I am head of youth and community for a 60 year old outdoor charity called Lindley Educational Trust. We have two urban youth projects; one in Ashton under Lyne in Manchester and the other in Sheffield, both are in areas of high deprivation and face many other challenges. We essentially use the outdoors as one of our main tools of engagement with young people and the wider community.


What does an average week look like in your job?

My working week varies each week, but our core provision includes sports sessions - football and cricket. A general youth club drop-in, a women’s only session and outdoor pursuits. An example of a week in the summer would look like: activities for boys and girls, both outdoorsy and non-outdoorsy, including hill walking, climbing and caving.

We also run a winter skills project. This is a 6-month project where we work closely with a group of young people aged 15+. They are young people who have done outdoor stuff with us in the past and want to take that next step. We fundraise together (to remove a financial barrier), go on practice walks and go on a mini residential. Then in February half-term, we take these young people to the Cairngorms to experience a week of winter mountaineering. Honestly, it’s one of the highlights of my working year! A lot of these young people haven’t left their home towns or been away from their families. It gives them more than an outdoor experience and really helps create well rounded individuals. I love it!


Do you remember your first experience of ‘the outdoors’?

How could I forget my first outdoor experience ? I don’t think I ever could. Our version of the outdoors was playing out on our bikes and scooters until the street lamps came on. I didn’t know crags existed or people went hill walking for fun! I actually used to attend a local youth club when I was a teenager and that was when I was exposed to the “outdoors”. This project ran weekly climbing clubs, the 3 peaks challenge and I remember having my first ever camping trip, waking up to a beautiful view of Tryfan - which still makes it my fave mountain in the UK ❤.



My first outdoor experience though was in prep for an expedition to Morocco - a group of us teenagers from Ashton were going to climb Toubkal, the highest Atlas mountain, with the youth club. I remember being super excited but obviously we had to make sure we were fit enough so that takes me on to my first ever hill walk. I’m sure you’re aware of Dovestones - that’s where it was. I struggled the whole way up; my boots were uncomfortable, and I was way out of my comfort zone. I remember getting to the top of the hill and launching my walking boots in the direction of my youth worker at the time, Adnan, and vowed I wasn’t going to Morocco or ever coming back to the youth club. I marched back down the hill and had a wonderful sleep that night (the most exercise I’d ever done), but I remember waking up the next day and ringing Adnan asking, “where are we going next?”. I don’t know how to explain. Something clicked in my head and my heart, and I’ve never looked back since.

Rehna Yaseen in the Lake District

What was the journey like from your first walk with the youth group to being a qualified Mountain Leader?

I’ll be honest I went into my training not really knowing what I was doing, but just knowing that hill walking had a beautiful impact on my life, and I wanted to be qualified to take others out. After my training I didn’t go for my assessment for five years! Such a long time. I lost my mojo, my mind got the better of me, making me think I wasn’t good enough and it took ages for me to build the confidence to go on my assessment. I got deferred on my navigation and felt good actually. Good at the fact that when I did actually become qualified, I’d be an even better Mountain Leader. I went back six months later and felt more confident and passed. I think women doubt themselves a lot more, I just want to add that we can do whatever we want as long as we put our minds to it.


Have you used your qualification much since you passed?

I have mostly used it with the young people I work with. Particularly when prepping for our winter skills expeditions. I have also used it quite a bit to work with the likes of Muslim Hikers, an organisation created to get people from faith backgrounds and more, out enjoying the countryside.


Why is it important to work with young people in your local community?

“If you can’t see it, you cant be it” – I am a firm believer in this quote. I didn’t know people from my community went hill walking and climbing until my youth worker got me up the hills. Within the areas that our youth projects are located, the young people face many issues and one of them is lack of aspirations and role models. I believe young people need to have those positive role models to mirror positive behaviour. They might see their youth workers and think “wow, if so and so is going outdoors, working and having fun, then why can’t I?”


What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had with a group in the outdoors?

It’s probably just earlier this summer [2023], taking a group of young people to Morocco to climb Toubkal. It felt like I had gone full circle. From going myself as a young person 12 years ago, to taking a group from Ashton – it was surreal. The young people absolutely smashed it and it made me feel beyond proud at how far they had come. Summitting was just the icing on the cake.

Rehna Yaseen with a group of Muslim hikers in Morocco

What would you say to someone who was interested in getting qualified to lead others in the mountains?

Go get it! It’s a very rewarding qualification to have and truly takes you to some beautiful places. As difficult as it is, don’t let societal or cultural norms dictate the way you live your life. Be the change you want to see.