Guide Qualifications Explained


Lowland Leader

  • Guides with this qualification can lead groups on day walks in lowland countryside and woodland in summer conditions.

Hill & Mooreland Leader

  • Hill and Moorland Leaders operate in terrain that is generally more remote than that used by Lowland Leaders and not as steep or rocky as ground covered by Mountain Leaders.

Expedition Skills

  • The Expedition Skills Module is an optional module available to walking leaders. It's an opportunity to increase skills. These guides are trained and assessed to lead groups on multi day camping expeditions.


Mountain Leader (non-technical mountain hiking) 

  • Mountain Leaders operate the length and breadth of the country with all sorts of groups of people; from scouts and schoolchildren to outdoor instructors and OAPs. The qualification is what you make it and there are countless opportunities for passionate Mountain Leaders.

Winter Mountain Leader

  • Guides with this qualification are trained to lead groups of hill walkers in UK winter condition. They have the same skills as a Mountain Leader, with additional knowledge to take to the complexities of winter conditions.

International Mountain Leader

  • International Mountain Leaders can take groups of walkers all over the world. Building on the skills of a Mountain Leader, International Mountain Leaders have the additional training and knowledge required for international travel. Opportunities for trips with International Mountain Leaders reach far and wide, from the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Inca Trail to Everest Base Camp and the jungles of Borneo.

Mountain Guide - International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA)

  • The IFMGA is an internationally recognized as the gold standard in Mountain Guide qualifications. IFMGA Guides are extremely qualified, knowledgeable and skilled to work globally on all terrain. Mountain guides also have a basic education in geology, fauna and flora and know the mountains and their history.

Rock Climbing:

Indoor Climbing Assistant

  • Indoor Climbing Assistants are not qualified to manage groups independently. A qualified Indoor Climbing Assistant can operate on: Indoor and outdoor artificial bouldering venues. Indoor and outdoor climbing walls.

Foundation Coach

  • This qualification is designed to enable coaches to be more effective in coaching the fundamental movement skills of climbing. Foundation Coaches will usually be concerned with the stimulating delivery of a single session to a group of individuals.

Development Coach

  • The Development Coach qualification focuses on the development of climbers over a series of sessions. Guides will use this qualification to build upon their existing coaching skills and learn how to deliver ‘climber centred coaching’ to individuals as part of a group.

Climbing Wall Instructor

  • The Climbing Wall Instructor qualification trains and assesses candidates in the skills required to supervise climbers on purpose built artificial climbing walls and boulders. Guides with this qualification often work at climbing walls or at venues with permanent or mobile climbing towers. This is not a suitable qualification for interdependently guiding outdoor rock climbing activities.

Climbing Wall Development Instructor

  • The Climbing Wall Development Instructor is trained to develop climbers beyond the basic skills. This includes teaching lead climbing on indoor or outdoor artificial climbing walls and structures with fixed protection. This is not a suitable qualification for interdependently guiding outdoor rock climbing activities.

Rock Climbing Instructor

  • Formerly known as the 'Single Pitch Award' guides with this qualification can supervise safe climbing and abseiling sessions on single pitch crags and artificial structures. Rock Climbing Instructors are experienced rock climbers themselves.

Rock Climbing Development Instructor

  • A qualified Rock Climbing Development Instructor can operate on single pitch trad and sport crags, indoor and outdoor bouldering venues, climbing walls and towers. Rock Climbing Instructors are very experienced rock climbers themselves.

Climbing, Ice Climbing & Mountaineering:

Mountaineering & Climbing Instructor

  • Guides with this qualification must have first held a Mountain Leader qualification. Guides have passed the Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor scheme and are trained in the skills required for instructing mountaineering, including all aspects of summer rock climbing, including the coaching of lead climbing, and scrambling.

Winter Mountaineering & Climbing Instructor

  • Guides with this qualification must have first obtained the Mountain Leader qualification, and been a Mountaineering & Climbing Instructor. This qualification is considered the minimum standard for those instructing the skills of snow and ice climbing and is an extensively used professional qualification. Guides are proficient in leading others across challenging winter conditions. Guides require this qualification for Ice Climbing some winter hikes.