Laura Simpson - Mountain Leader

Laura Simpson

What do you do for work?

I am a freelance outdoor instructor, predominantly leading groups hill walking, rock climbing and gorge walking. I work for a few different companies mainly working with NCS (National Citizen Service) groups, Duke of Edinburgh's Award and school groups.

Have you always worked in the outdoor industry?

I studied Sport and Exercise Science at Leeds Met University and began working at the Leeds Climbing Wall. This was a great opportunity as I completed my Single Pitch Award whilst working at the wall and gained experience instructing a range of groups both in and outdoors. I then travelled to New Zealand and Australia, living a year in each country, working a variety of roles in a range of industries including a flower farm, dairy farm, outdoor shop, and a tour guide. This was a great experience, further developing skills and gaining experience, before returning to the UK to pursue a full time career in the outdoors.

How did you get started in walking and climbing?

I completed the Duke of Edinburgh's Award at school and fell in love with the mountains. I then started rock climbing at University.

Was there anyone in particular who got you into it?

Joining the Leeds Met Climbing Club was a great opportunity. I was fortunate to be in the club at a time with some experienced members who were happy to take a few of us winter climbing in Scotland. I think this is when my passion for the outdoors truly developed, I still love the winter environment, especially the wildness of Scotland.

Hiking the Markah Valley trek Indian Himalaya

If you only had 24 hours where would you go and what would you do for a quick outdoor hit?

This is a tough one, I love visiting new areas and there are so many places I would like to go. I haven’t spent much time exploring the winter routes on Ben Nevis so would maybe head there, stay in the CIC hut and tick off as many of the classic routes as possible.

Who do you love walking with most?

I have walked with too many people to name just one. Each year my whole family rent a FRCC cottage and we do a big walk. At the end of the day we cook a big meal together. This is a special weekend sharing the environment I love the most with the people I love. But I also enjoy getting to know new people or catching up with friends in a place that allows you to both relax and be challenged.

What were the best and worst things about working your way through the Mountain Leader scheme?

The best is probably getting to meet a whole range of people of different levels of experience. Learning from instructors, course mates, colleagues and friends. The ‘worst’ or I suppose most challenging is getting enough time to try and complete the days needed for the consolidation period of each award.

What does it mean to you to be a Mountain Leader?

It means I get to share my passion and enthusiasm for the outdoors, showing how everyone can access this inspiring environment.

Have you got any other qualifications?

I have my Single Pitch Award and have just completed my Winter Mountain Leader training at Glenmore Lodge which was a fantastic course.

Do you have any advice for anyone going through the scheme?

Just get out as much as you can in a variety of areas, keep exploring new places.

What are your outdoor plans for the future?

I plan to continue working toward more qualifications, Mountaineering Instructor Award (MIA) and maybe one day Mountaineering Instructor Certificate (MIC). Last year I visited the Himalayas for the first time and climbed a 6000m peak with my winter climbing partner. I would love to do more trips like that, and just keep exploring.

Climbing at Gaustatoppen in Rjukan Norway

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