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Hiring a Mountain ‘Guide’ or Leader – Tip #41

Hiring a Mountain ‘Guide’ or Leader

The scary and hilarious controversy over the antics of “IamBraveDave” (check out his YouTube channel) over the last couple of weeks prompts me to make this ‘buyer beware’ warning.

This is not about ‘Brave Dave’ himself,  but sadly there are plenty of other operators out there who prey on the trusting and unsuspecting, often having created an almost ‘cult-like’ following. This is made all too easy with a flashy website and ostentatious social media presence. They exploit the general public’s ignorance of what safe mountaineering good practice really looks like when an increased ‘duty of care’ applies; and what the terms ‘leader’, ‘guide’, and ‘instructor’ mean in the context of specific qualifications, often having cleverly misrepresenting the facts.

If you are going to part with your hard-earned cash and give it to someone to take you in the mountains, or go rock-climbing, scrambling etc, then:

  • Ask for evidence of their qualifications (and an up to date CPD record). This is easily provided through a link to a Mountain Training profile. Here are mine. But if people don’t provide this link by default then you have to be asking yourself why that is and whether they are hiding something.
  • Look on the Mountain Training website to see what these qualifications actually mean and therefore what they are qualified to do. For example, here’s the link to the Mountain Leader scheme. You might be surprised to learn that it’s really an ‘entry level’ qualification which is routinely abused and portrayed as being far more than it really is.
  • Ask for evidence of their insurance and if the policy wording includes a phrase such as “within the scope of the qualifications held” then you must realise that if they operate outside that scope then they are not insured. For example, Mountain Leaders who are using ropes on scrambles, or leading groups unroped on scrambles above Grade 1, are almost certainly operating “beyond the scope of the qualification” and (depending on circumstances) they are more than likely operating uninsured. Look for incontrovertible proof that they are in fact specifically insured for the activity you are doing with them.

As I said – “Buyer beware”.