“Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” This is the philosophy that underlies all the training courses that we offer. While our courses all have plenty of physical and technical challenge, battling the elements, enjoyment and fun, underlying them all is our desire and intention to give you the skills to enjoy the mountains safely, by becoming self-reliant and making sound decisions. After all, it’s only if you get down safely that you get to go back another time.
There are so many special moments to be had in the mountains. Sometimes, being on the summit is an essential part of this enjoyment and achievement. Very often that’s at the heart of why people want to climb mountains. But not always. Sometimes there is just as much satisfaction and enjoyment to be had without actually getting to the top – appreciating the stunning landscapes, the incredible geology, the amazing flora and fauna, or simply enjoying the peace to ‘get away from it all’. So our other intention is to make sure you get as much as possible from our courses, in a way that suits you, whether we get to the summit or not. The summit really is optional.
I’m Patrick Hickie and I’ve been climbing and mountaineering for over 30 years now. I’m a fully qualified mountaineering and climbing instructor holding the Mountaineering Instructor Award (MIA) and I’m a member of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors. I’ve held both the Summer and Winter Mountain Leader certificates for over 20 years. In addition, I’m a fully qualified International Mountain Leader (IML) and member of the British Association of International Mountain Leaders. I’m involved in most aspects of mountaineering in all its forms, including hill walking; scrambling; ‘trad’ and sport rock climbing; winter climbing (both ice and mixed); Alpine mountaineering; ski-touring; and expeditions to the greater ranges. I have been fortunate enough to have been on first and second ascent expeditions in the Himalayas and climbed in corners of the world as far flung as Alaska, Patagonia and New Zealand. I’ve climbed and ski-toured in the Alps and Norway, and, nearer to home, I’ve been mountaineering and rock climbing all over the UK from the sea cliffs of Cornwall to the north face of Ben Nevis.
All this should therefore mean two things for you. First, as an experienced mountaineering and climbing instructor I’ve plenty of experience to pass on to you to help make you a self-reliant and safe mountaineer. Second, I know my way around very many (but by no means all!) of the best hills, mountains and cliffs that the UK has to offer. As a result, whatever the time of year, whatever the weather and whatever your goals, I will be able to choose the right place to enable you to get the best out of your course – which is as it should be.