Women in Mountain Training Conference

Women in Mountain Training logo

Mountain Training is holding the first ever Women in Mountain Training conference. The conference is part of our Gender Equality Strategy to develop women in adventure activity leadership and is aimed at women at any stage of the Mountain Training pathway, from first time registrants through to experienced qualification holders.

Date: 15th-16th October, 2022
Venue: Plas y Brenin
Tickets on sale: 12 noon Thursday 7th July via this link https://mt.tahdah.me/event/detail/592674

Programme Exact times TBC

Time Saturday Sunday
  • Registration and coffee
  • Welcome, intros, housekeeping
  • Whole conference session - Inspiring women and girls in adventure activities - Kate O'Brien and Rehna Yaseen
  • Optional session (see list below)
  • Morning activity (optional): run, yoga, walk etc
  • Welcome back and Q&A - Ask Mountain Training
  • Whole conference session: Challenging sexism (panel discussion) - hosted by Rachael Crewesmith
  • Optional session (see list below)
  • Lunch
  • Whole conference session: Nutrition for performance and women's lifecycles - Rebecca Dent
  • Optional session (see list below)
  • Lunch
  • Optional session (see list below)
  • Close and thanks to everyone
  • Dinner
  • Evening inspiration: Positive experiences & careers - Polly Harmer

Saturday's optional sessions:

All sessions run twice; once in the morning and again in the afternoon
  • Knowing when you’re ready for assessment - Kath James
  • Turning qualifications into a successful career/business - Siân Brewer
  • Body inclusivity in adventure activities - Maddie Sweetman
  • Pack hacks and top tips for woman friendly kit - Jenny Dart

Sunday's optional sessions:

All sessions run twice; once in the morning and again in the afternoon
  • Mountains and parenthood: Having a family and an adventurous career - Mikaela Toczek
  • Building resilience, confidence and challenging imposter syndrome - Dr Rebecca Williams
  • Taking it to the next level – living and working through peri-menopause and menopause - Katherine Schirrmacher
  • Understanding leadership styles and developing your own practice - Dr Samantha McElligott
Session info


Whole conference session - Inspiring women and girls in adventure activities

Rehna Yaseen and Kate O’Brien will talk about their work with Lindley Educational Trust, Ashton Youth Club and the Outward Bound Women in Leadership project.

Knowing when you’re ready for assessment – Kathryn James

How to plan your journey to assessment. What have you learnt from other assessments in life and how do you respond? How do you prefer to receive feedback? Where can you get support - a look at strategies to overcome emotional and practical barriers.

Turning qualifications into a successful career/business – Sian Brewer

Before you go…
  • What’s out there!? jobs you might not have thought of!
  • Benefits and challenges of a career outdoors (the obvious and not so obvious)
Setting off…
  • Where to look?
  • Making volunteering work for your work! – gaining experience for quals, shape your leadership style, building a community, getting ‘known’.
Climbing career mountains
  • Qualifications for professional development - impressive interview stories, leverage funding, career progression, diversifying skillsets
Hiking solo
  • Things to consider – what else is out there, location location location, insurance, permissions, business know-how
  • Career path or crazy paving?!
  • Create a to do list

Body inclusivity in adventure activities – Maddie Sweetman

A practical and societal look at being a leader in different sized and shaped bodies as well as running body inclusive sessions for your clients. A discussion regarding attitudes to body size in adventurous activities, myth busting regarding body size and ability/fitness and building confidence in different bodies for yourself and your clients. Examples of best practice and successful inclusive campaigns/products.

Also practical tips for dealing with issues such as belaying/short roping a heavier partner, racking up small harnesses, carrying smaller/lighter packs, recommended clothing brands for bigger people, leading those with bigger bodies.

Pack hacks and top tips for woman friendly kit: Unpacking our mountaineering & rock climbing bags – Jenny Dart

An experienced instructor shows what they have in their kit or for a day walking, climbing and mountaineering. Advice and hacks which have solved problems on the hill and at the crag. Eg how to manage losing heat faster than your male counterparts – how many clothes and how to effectively layer, what season sleeping bag, which products are best for managing periods for different activities, which brands offer the best women’s kit/fit etc.

Whole conference session - Nutrition for performance and women’s lifecycles - Rebecca Dent

Rebecca Dent will cover:
  • Nutrition for big days out / back to back days /managing the load of a long season of working and in combination with own training and personal goals.
  • Nutrition for women - general tips on how nutrition can support the female body throughout the menstrual cycle and life cycle.
  • Signs of under fuelling and impaired menstrual cycle.
  • The importance of fuelling training and mountain days.

Evening inspiration

Polly Harmer in conversation with Rachael Crewesmith - exploring Polly’s experiences working in Mountain Training, climbing and mountaineering and going through the British Mountain Guide scheme. Questions could include:
  • Hyper masculinity in the adventure activities industry
  • Uneven distribution of respect between the ‘top’ of the industry and those who work engaging people in the outdoors
  • Negotiating being a regular woman and trying to be a super-human going through the BMG scheme
  • Navigating the Guide scheme as a woman and trying to feel confident, valid, capable and welcome as a woman in that space
  • Trying not to compromise on femininity in masculine spaces


Whole conference session - Challenging sexism panel

Rachael Crewesmith will host this panel to discuss positive steps and strategies to challenge discrimination experienced when working as a woman in adventurous activities. How to challenge sexism and other forms of discrimination with an intersectional lens. Strategies in work environments and on Mountain Training & other courses. There will be time for Q&A so bring your questions for the panel.

Mountains and parenthood – Mikaela Toczek

This session aims to explore the challenges of having both a family and a career in adventurous activities. Themes will include pregnancy, maternity, working with children, travel, overcoming societal/familial pressures as a mother, attitudes to risk, involving children in your work, benefits of different types of work, etc.

Building resilience, confidence and challenging imposter syndrome – Dr Rebecca Williams

Explanation and discussion of psychology, resilience, confidence and how they affect women in the adventure activity industry. What is imposter syndrome, its prevalence and how to challenge it. Strategies for building confidence, managing fear and doubts and overcoming inevitable challenges and difficulties.

Taking it to the next level – living and working through peri-menopause and menopause – Katherine Schirrmacher

This workshop aims to start the conversation in the outdoor sector about this little talked about issue that affects all women.
  • Where/when does it start, does it end?
  • What does it feel like? How is it going to affect me?
  • Will I be able to carry on doing what I’ve always done work-wise and personal activities?
  • How can I adjust my working practices to help - planning for change and being creative, identifying and asking for what we need at work, having conversations with employers.

Understanding leadership styles and developing your own practice – Dr Samantha McElligott

Examining the positive impact of good leadership, and how we can aspire to growing our leadership toolbox. Understanding different leadership styles and their relevance to your practice in the outdoors. Examining what effective leadership behaviours look like, and how we can apply these to our daily lives, as well as our practice. Exploring leadership in the context of differing client needs and environments. Learning more about our preferences and default settings as leaders, and how we can become more aware of our style, behaviours and, ultimately, our impact on those we lead.
Delivery team

Rachael Crewesmith

Conference host and panel host

Rachael Crewesmith

Rachael Crewesmith is a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor from North Wales. Aside from working in the mountains where teaching trad skills is her forte, you might have seen her presenting a series of kit, tech and skills videos for UKClimbing.com, hosting the Base Camp Stage at Kendal Mountain Festival or heading up the safety and mentor team at the Women's Trad Festival where she has been at the forefront of the drive for increased visibility of mountain professionals.

Rachael holds the Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor, Winter Mountain Leader and Rock Climbing Instructor qualifications and is a trainee for the Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and Climbing Development Coach qualifications. She also works as a tutor for the British Cycling mountain bike leadership scheme and is a qualified Open Water Swim coach.

Kate O'Brien

Inspiring women and girls in adventure activities

Kate O'Brien

Kate has worked in outdoor learning for over 20 years, in a variety of roles including instructor, youth worker, course director, wilderness therapy field guide and project manager. Initial studies were in Outdoor Education in the Community where her research focus was on women developing a career in outdoor leadership. Pursuing a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology has allowed Kate to combining her loves of outdoor adventure with a deeper understanding of the human mind, supporting people to reach their potential. More recently Kate has created, developed, and co-delivered Outward Bound's first Women's Outdoor Leadership Course, which includes a focus on mountain leadership and rock climbing instructor qualifications.

Rehna Yaseen

Inspiring women and girls in adventure activities

Rehna Yaseen in Nepal

11 years ago, Rehna hadn’t been up a hill, she didn’t know people went to the crags or what the great outdoors meant. Fast forward a few years, Rehna now manages a youth and community project for an outdoor charity called Lindley Educational Trust, facilitating outdoor experiences for young people from the local community. She raised £20,000 for their women’s only project to take 8 women to Finland on a wild canoe expedition showing that there is more than what society and culture may dictate for us.

Kath James

Knowing when you’re ready for assessment

Kath James

Kath James is a Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor based in North Wales. She works full time as an instructor and has done for the last 20 years. Kath has worked in outdoor education with young people providing experiences across multiple disciplines, in leader training and assessment in mountaineering and climbing, and instructing and guiding rock climbing, winter climbing, mountaineering and hill walking in the UK. She enjoys the aspects of her work that have allowed her to support and mentor instructors in their professional development.

Kath’s experience of training and assessing on the Mountain Training qualifications has given her insight into how different people respond to the pressure of assessment. She always aims to make the experience a positive one for candidates whatever the outcome. Her interest in supporting people on these pathways has led to educating herself more about ways in which people respond to assessment situations. Kath aims to share this knowledge to help people know when they are ready for assessment.

Siân Brewer

Turning qualifications into a successful career/business

Sian Brewer

Siân is a geographer, Mountain Leader and accredited outdoor learning practitioner with a passion for helping people develop outdoor skills and knowledge. After discovering the outdoors through the Ten Tors Challenge as a teenager, she has over 15 years of experience leading outdoor learning and adventures for educational charities, women’s communities and national parks. Her most recent adventures include setting up Discover Your Outdoors and making her garden more wildlife friendly!

Maddie Sweetman

Body inclusivity in adventure activities

Maddie Sweetman

Maddie's been working in physical activity and adventurous activities for the past 12 years and is currently Partnership Liaison Officer for Mountain Training England as well as a freelance instructor. Her prior work and research at Manchester Women’s Aid and Loughborough/Leeds Beckett Universities has focused on getting women and girls more active by reducing barriers to participation and promoting mental health/wellbeing. In particular, her Masters of Research investigated the effects of weight stigma and the representation of women’s bodies on attitudes to physical activity. Maddie has advised Sport England and Women in Sport on ways to make campaigns and instructor practice more body inclusive. Maddie is a qualified Climbing Wall Instructor, Rock Climbing Instructor and Mountain Leader as well as a super keen rock climber who occasionally can be forced up a hill, mountain or into some water!

Jenny Dart

Pack hacks and top tips for woman friendly kit

Jenny Dart

Jenny is a freelance Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor based in Snowdonia. She runs the Women's Alpine Adventure Club and is a team member of Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue. She loves big mountaineering days out and the opportunity to eat lots of snacks!

Rebecca Dent

Nutrition for performance and women's lifecycles

Rebecca Dent

Sports dietitian and mountain sport enthusiast: high performance dietitian Rebecca Dent is on a mission to bring world-class, sound, scientific and easy to implement, practical nutrition advice to mountaineers, mountain athletes, ultra runners and adventurers everywhere.

Her knowledge and expertise is built on a solid ground of her academic qualifications and a professional career of nearly 20 years that spans working in the NHS, British Ski Academy, Sport Scotland Institute of Sport, Olympic and Commonwealth games athletes and teams. She has a wealth of experience working with recreational to world class athletes including ultra runners, climbers, mountain athletes, mountain guides and instructors, expeditions and adventurers.

Most recently Rebecca supported the GB climbing team and GB climber Shauna Coxsey to reach the Tokyo Olympics in 2022 and has developed a strong partnership with world leaders in coaching for mountain sports UphillAthlete.com headed up by world renowned alpinist Steve House. She speaks regularly at industry events in the UK and Europe and delivers nutrition services with leading outdoor brands including Ourea Events, Arctery’x, The North Face and outdoor events such as the Fort William Mountain Festival, Arctery'x Academy, Cham Fest and the Women’s Climbing Symposium.

Rebecca is a Registered Dietitian, MSc, BSc, IOC Sports Nutrition Diploma. She is married to an IFMGA mountain guide and lives and works in the Chamonix valley where she combines her love of the mountains and performance nutrition. She enjoys the changing of the season in the Alps, ski mountaineering in the winter and summer alpine climbing, mountain biking and running the trails with her dog in the summer months.

Polly Harmer

Saturday evening inspiration

Polly Harmer

Polly is an outdoor educater and Aspirant British Mountain Guide. She is passionate about sharing the world of adventure and wilderness with those who don’t already easily venture into its rocky rough slopes. Polly is curious about how we help our professional culture grow progressively to support wide engagement and enjoyment of wild places and exciting adventures.

Mikaela Toczek

Mountains and parenthood

Mikaela Toczek

Mikaela is an International Mountain Leader, photographer and mother, living and working in Slovenia. Supporting others in the outdoors, sharing her love of slow journeys and encouraging curiosity and connection with nature are Mikaela’s passions, whether that is in the mountains, through a magazine feature, workshop, or as a guest speaker. Combining pregnancy and motherhood with a career outdoors has been one of Mikaela’s biggest challenges yet, and she is sure it is a process that will continue to surprise and stretch her for many years to come. Through open and inclusive discussion and positive action, Mikaela feels strongly that we can address some of these challenges and help to create pathways for other pregnant women and mothers to continue, adapt or begin their careers in the outdoors.

Dr Rebecca Williams

Building resilience, confidence and imposter syndrome

Dr Rebecca Williams

Rebecca worked as a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and within the NHS for 19 years, before moving to private practice in 2019, and has been working as a Performance Psychology Coach for the last 17 years. She works with climbers of all ages from grassroots to elite level, and specialises in the management of anxiety for climbers and the development of healthy coping skills. She also holds a Level 7 Diploma in Leadership and Management, and a Level 7 Certificate in Executive Coaching & Mentoring, and has worked with female leaders across diverse industries to develop their confidence and perform to their potential.

Rebecca has run workshops on the psychology of climbing and mountaineering for many different audiences, from the Women’s Climbing Symposium, MTA’s Performance Coach ‘Coaching the Mind’ module, the Diploma in Mountain Medicine, NICAS, Youth Climbing Symposium, to various climbing clubs, as well as presenting the psychology keynote speech at the International Rock Climbing Research Association congress in Chamonix in 2018.

Dr Rebecca Williams BSc DClinPsy, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Rock Climbing Instructor, Registered as a Practitioner Psychologist with HCPC.

Katherine Schirrmacher

Taking it to the next level – living and working through peri-menopause and menopause

Katherine Schirrmacher

Katherine is a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and a Development Coach. She’s coached the GB Climbing Team and is a Mountain Training course provider.

Katherine’s approach:
Every individual is so different and that’s what fascinates me. When we truly appreciate and accept this, and climb from a place of happiness and joy, that is when your best performance will happen and everything flows. I know this deeply. It’s the same for everyone, regardless of age or ability.

Years of experience of both personal climbing and climbing coaching and instruction have given me a very in depth knowledge of technique, tactics and training. I’ve written training plans for GB competition climbers, coached people to climb their first E5s and helped people through injury and difficult times in their climbing.

However my strong belief is that it is your mindset that will reap the biggest rewards by learning to:
  • connect to your deepest motivations
  • set just the right goals that you can achieve and be inspired by
  • be in the moment
  • listen to your body
  • trust yourself, your judgements and body
  • climb from a place of kindness and joy

Dr Samantha McElligott

Understanding leadership styles and developing your own practice

Samantha McElligott

After completing a joint honours degree in Law and French from Keele University in 2000, Samantha decided to make a career move into the more applied environment of education within the outdoors. She has spent over 20 years working as an instructor, coach, development trainer, and expedition leader on both UK and overseas adventures. Concurrently, she studied Life Coaching and Performance Coaching, NLP and completed both a Postgraduate Diploma in Coaching and Mentoring (Wolverhampton University) and a Postgraduate Certificate of Higher Education (Bangor University). Samantha’s ensuing Ph.D research examined transformational leadership in the context of overseas expeditions, and the impact on participants’ self-esteem. The research was presented at International Sports Psychology Conferences, and won the student poster prize at the DSEP conference in Manchester (2013). Her research has been integrated into Mountain Training's walking qualifications, presented as the INSPIRE model.

Samantha is an outdoor enthusiast and is passionate about developing peoples’ potential through the medium of outdoor experiences. Now, she practices as a Mental Health First Aid Trainer and Leadership Consultant specialising in the development of transformational leadership and performance coaching behaviours. She has worked with ATG-A since 2016, helping to develop the ALeRT Training course and strengthen knowledge and confidence in developmental theory and techniques across the group.

Further details of the PhD research can be found via the following link: https://www.outlookexpeditions.com/who-we-are/phd
Conference aims

Aim 1:

To support women engaging with Mountain Training qualifications at all levels.
Though the gender balance is improving, in nearly all qualifications, fewer women register, complete training and attend assessment for Mountain Training qualifications than men. In the higher qualifications, this imbalance becomes even more pronounced.

Aim 2:

To provide an opportunity for women to develop knowledge networks.
Both external research and research undertaken by Mountain Training shows that women have different experiences to their male counterparts when undertaking Mountain Training qualifications and in their careers as leaders. Knowledge networks are an important part of the journey to and beyond qualification.

Aim 3:

To promote, to women, working on Mountain Training courses and taking up other positions of leadership in the sector.
Women and other marginalised groups still experience discrimination in society and the adventurous activity sphere. A “women-focused” space allows women and leaders who identify as other marginalised genders to explore ideas, solutions and best practice which can be shared widely.

Aim 4:

To share the findings from the conference with our providers, sector employers and managers to help them understand the challenges women face.
This will allow all leaders to develop more inclusive practices and better meet the needs of the women and girls they lead.
Booking info

Tickets on sale:

  • 12 noon on Monday 4th July
  • 12 noon on Thursday 7th July

Ticket options:

Tickets for the conference are non-residential to allow greatest flexibility.

Standard: £80

Subsidised: £40
Subsidised tickets are for people who are in need of financial help to attend the conference. Please do not buy this ticket if you can afford the Standard ticket. This ticket is designed to support people who would struggle to attend the conference otherwise. These tickets are being subsidised by Plas y Brenin.
AccommodationPlas y Brenin are offering B&B accommodation for the Friday and/or Saturday night:

Single room: £80 per night including breakfast
Twin room: £120 per night including breakfast for two people

If you would like to book please email info@pyb.co.uk with your name, room type and the dates you would like to stay. If you have any other requirements please contact Plas y Brenin.

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