Winter Mountain Leader FAQs

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

You must first have passed Mountain Leader assessment. Following this, 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. There are four stages to the registration process:
  • Assuming you have the above then there are four stages to registering for the Winter Mountain Leader:

  • Enter your winter QMDs into DLOG

  • Register for the Winter Mountain leader scheme on the Candidate Management System.

  • After you have paid the registration fee, your application will be pending until you share your DLOG with us. NB If you do not click 'Share with Mountain Training' on the Share tab of your DLOG, your registration application will remain pending until you do. Do not share your DLOG with Mountain Training until it is up to date and shows a minimum of 20 winter QMDs.

  • Your winter QMDs in DLOG are reviewed by an MTS technical officer and if meets the minimum requirements your Winter Mountain Leader registration will be approved, and you will be notified by email. NB Until your registration has been approved, you should not book nor attend a Winter Mountain Leader training course.

2/ What is a winter Quality Mountain Day?

The full definition of a winter Quality Mountain Day (QMD) can be found here. Simply put, QMDs are the absolute cream of your winter mountain experience, your most challenging days.

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

Candidates are advised to gain some practice in leading parties in easy winter upland terrain. Working under the guidance of a suitably experienced leader in more difficult terrain is also recommended. Every opportunity should be taken to practice the skills learned during training.

Days assisting a more experienced leader are also very valuable but do not count as quality days (and should be logged separately). Whilst you are assisting a leader, they are the one ultimately making the judgements and decisions and having overall responsibility; you may be picking up tips about how to manage groups, but your personal abilities will not be being stretched.

Days spent leading groups, including peer groups, are valuable experience and can be counted as quality mountains days (QMD) if they meet the QMD criteria. This experience often pays dividends at assessment. However, candidates are advised to ensure they have sufficient independent personal experience of operating in winter which supports them to develop the required fitness, technical competence, decision-making skills, etc. They should also be mindful of the consequences of any decisions or actions that may arise due to lack of experience/practice.

The full definition of a Quality Mountain Day (or QMD) can be found here.

4/ What about days as a course member under instruction, do they count as winter QMDs?

Days as a course member under instruction (for example on a training course or military exercise), whilst valuable personal development do not count as a QMD as the qualified leader/instructor running the day is the one ultimately making the judgements and decisions and having overall responsibility.

The following are examples of days that do not constitute Winter QMDs:
  • Days acting as an assistant leader, while valuable experience, do not count as QMDs. Why? Because the qualified leader/instructor is the one ultimately making the judgements and decisions and having overall responsibility.
  • The time of year alone, such as a January day when no snow or ice is present, or the presence of snow patches (such as on the Cairngorm plateau) on a sunny day in May, do not qualify as Winter QMDs, even though the day may satisfy the elements of length, navigation, and exploration.
  • Teaching winter skills or winter climbing should be part of a longer mountain day and not the sole reason for the day. As this is a walking qualification the bulk of your days should be winter walking days. Whilst some teaching winter skills and/or winter climbing days may be acceptable they should still meet the criteria of a Winter QMD.
  • While foreign experience can be useful these days should be in similar conditions to those found in the UK in winter to be truly relevant. The use of an axe and crampons on snow or ice does not necessarily constitute a Winter QMD.

The full definition of a Quality Mountain Day (or QMD) can be found here.

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 hill walking leadership award?

In winter time the boundary between hill walking 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 Mountain Leader 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 Mountain Leader candidate has definitely had experience of moving on steep terrain.

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

Firstly, please check your Junk mail folder. After you've paid the registration fee, you will receive an automated email confirming that we've received your fee and letting you know that your registration is pending. Sometimes this email ends up in the Junk folder.

If you have received the initial automated email but not heard about whether your application has been approved, please make sure that you have clicked the 'Send to Mountain Training' button on the Share tab in DLOG.

If you have shared your DLOG with us, please allow 10 working days for a technical officer to review your DLOG.

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 folder in your email.

November/December is the busiest time so the processing time may take a bit longer in those months.

8/ 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.

9/ Can I attend a Winter Mountain Leader training course if I don't want to do the assessment?

If you have passed Mountain Leader assessment and have the required winter experience then there is nothing stopping you from applying for registration, having your application approved and attending a Winter Mountain Leader training course. From that point it’s entirely up to you whether you wish to progress onto assessment. However, it is hoped that following the training course you would progress onto assessment in due course; the vast majority do, around 90%.

It is important than candidates understand that Winter Mountain Leader training is not about learning how to be a winter walker/mountaineer; it builds on the skills learnt through the Mountain Leader scheme to prepare candidates for the complexities associated with leading walks in winter conditions in the UK and Ireland.

To be able to take on board the syllabus topics covered at training, look after yourself in often extremely hostile weather conditions, and practice the skills and techniques covered during training, candidates MUST have a personal foundation of experience and skills.

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