Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (2023)

Getting started

Registration for the Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor qualification is an application process and you need to meet the following prerequisites:

  • You must hold the Mountain Leader qualification
  • You must have gained 20 quality mountain days as a leader since becoming a Mountain Leader, and logged them in DLOG
  • Have substantial climbing experience and provide evidence of 30 named multi-pitch rock climbs in at least three main climbing areas of the UK and Ireland. These must be climbs which you have completed leading at least the crux pitch, which must be VS 4c standard or above. These routes should illustrate your breadth of climbing experience and must be logged in DLOG. See below for more information on what's expected.
  • You must have led 10 sport climbs at or above French grade 6a and logged them in DLOG
  • There should also be a reference in the Referee tab of your DLOG, in support of your registration application

As with all Mountain Training qualifications, these are the minimum requirements. As a general indication, the logged experience should be a representative sample rather than a candidate’s total experience. Candidates who have only the bare minimum of experience will find the training and assessment less worthwhile than candidates who have a broader and more extensive mountaineering background.

Rock climbing experience at registration

The Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor scheme is UK and Ireland orientated and the experience recorded should reflect this. While experience gained trekking or climbing in the High Atlas Mountains, for example, is undoubtedly valuable, it is not necessarily the most appropriate experience for the scheme. The Board is looking for both depth and breadth of experience since candidates who have only the minimum experience are unlikely to benefit fully from either the training or assessment course.

  • In general terms, successful applicants will have climbed at least 100 multi-pitch routes.
  • Candidates should bear in mind that the 30 routes must be multi-pitch (described as such in the guidebook and climbed as such) and must be at least VS 4c.
  • As a general rule, at least two-thirds of the routes should fall into the mountain/major sea cliff category. Moss Ghyll Grooves, Dream of White Horses and The Clean Sweep are examples of the type of route expected rather than short, contrived climbs that may be more technically difficult, for example, Merlin Direct at Tremadog.
  • There should be evidence of recent climbing experience.

If you can meet all of the above requirements, here's what to do next:

  • Log in to our Candidate Management System
  • Register for the Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor scheme (this costs £79)
  • Notify Mountain Training (via the 'Send to Mountain Training' button on the 'Share' tab in DLOG) that your DLOG is ready to be reviewed and there is a reference in your DLOG.

Please note it can take up to 30 days for your registration to be reviewed.

You will be notified by email by Mountain Training with the result of your application. Applications with less than the minimum experience cannot be approved.

The registration fee is non-refundable. However, if your application is not successful, you will receive feedback on how best to fulfil the experience requirements and your registration application will be held open for six months, during which you can submit an updated record at no extra cost.

Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor candidate handbook

Do you have additional needs?

Do you have a physical or mental impairment or disability which may require a provider to make reasonable adjustments so that you can take part in a training or assessment course? Find out more.

Not quite right?

If this doesn't sound like the right qualification for you, consider the following:

  • Rock Climbing Instructor
  • Mountain Leader
  • Climbing Wall Development Instructor

You could also read through our 'Which scheme is right for me?' page.


Training course bookings must not be made until your Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor registration application has been approved by Mountain Training.

There are three providers of Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor training: Glenmore Lodge, Plas y Brenin and Tollymore. Courses are delivered in a continuous nine-day block. At the end of the training course feedback and advice on consolidation will be given individually. In order to assist this process candidates must present a completed logbook at the start of the course. The training course includes knowledge and skills not assessed on the final course. For this reason there is no exemption from training.

How to get the most out of your MCI training

Use the Skills Checklist

This document can be used during or shortly after your training course to help you identify areas of the syllabus that may require attention.

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Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (3)Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor Skills Checklist

The Syllabus

Mountaineering and Climbing Instructors should be competent in the following key areas.

  • Personal summer mountaineering
  • Summer mountaineering instruction
  • Rock climbing instruction
  • Problem solving and rescue skills
  • National awards and local accreditation schemes
  • The mountain environment
  • Development and history of mountaineering
  • Assessment of risk and its application

Detailed information on each of the above topics can be found in the Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor candidate handbook and the onus is on you to be competent in all of them by the time you come to assessment.

ConsolidationThe period between training and assessment (often referred to as the consolidation period) varies in length for each person. The Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor syllabus is extensive and you should make every effort to develop your skills, paying particular attention to any weaknesses identified during the training course.

We have carried out some research into candidates' preparation for Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor assessment in an effort to identify what helps candidates be successful. A summary and the full report can be found here: Preparing for your assessment - research results. (The research was carried out prior to the qualification name change.)

The Book - Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing has been written specifically for people working their way through Mountain Training's climbing schemes and it's packed with colourful diagrams, photographs and simple language. It covers the full spectrum of modern climbing practice including movement skills, knots, bouldering, sport, trad and indoor climbing as well as risk management and problem solving.

Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (4)

Buy now

Association of Mountaineering Instructors

AMI supports trainee and qualified Mountaineering and Climbing Instructors and offers a range of workshops to assist with their development as well as a quarterly magazine, gear deals/discounts and an insurance deal. After you have completed Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor training you will be invited to join AMI as an trainee member for free until the end of the membership year (31st March).

Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (5)

Join now


E-learning modules can be accessed through the 'Awards & Training' tab of your CMS account.

Mountain weather

Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (6)

Created by the Met Office for Mountain Training, this free module is packed full of useful information about weather systems, forecasts and how to use this information as a leader to plan your journey. The module takes approximately 1 hour to complete and is available to anyone who has registered on one of our schemes.


Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (7)

These three modules are free for members of the Mountain Training Association - they have been developed in partnership with Paul Gannon, author of the Rock Trails series of books.

Mountain building
This module covers a basic understanding of mountain building and plate tectonics.

Mountain landscapes and rock types
This module covers a basic understanding of various rock types and how they appear in the landscape.

Mountain destruction
This module explores the ways in which weathering and erosion slowly dismantle mountain ranges and should help you spot signs of the on-going processes of mountain destruction.

AssessmentBefore you book onto a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor assessment, make sure you have done the following:
  • You must have attended a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor training course
  • You must be familiar with the syllabus
  • You must have logged a minimum of 20 multi pitch climbs at VS 4c or above (since Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor training), a large proportion of which should be on mountain crags and major sea cliffs
  • You must have logged a minimum of 20 quality mountain days in sole charge of a group (since training)
  • You must have logged a minimum of 20 rock climbing teaching days with students (since training)
  • You must have a reference from a referee
  • You must have physically attended and completed (i.e. not online) a first aid course which involved at least two full days or sixteen hours of instruction and included an element of assessment
The Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor assessment is 5 days long.

Assessments are run by either Glenmore Lodge, Plas y Brenin or Tollymore.


How do you become a certified alpinist? ›

Here are a few steps to get your mountaineering certification:
  1. Gain experience. Before pursuing your certification, it's beneficial to gain initial climbing and mountaineering experience. ...
  2. Select a certification. ...
  3. Choose a climbing association. ...
  4. Take the courses. ...
  5. Pass the exam.
Jun 24, 2022

What is climbing in mountaineering? ›

Mountaineering, or mountain climbing, is the sport of reaching, or trying to reach, high points in mountainous areas, mainly for the joy and thrill of the climb. The sport involves intense physical activity. It includes hiking, rock climbing, and traversing slopes covered with ice and snow.

How much do people get paid to climb? ›

The average salary for a tower climber in the United States is $41,248. Tower climber salaries typically range between $28,000 and $59,000 a year. The average hourly rate for tower climbers is $19.83 per hour.

How much do climbers make? ›

The best professional climbers can earn as much as $300,000 per year, although most get paid less than $10,000 per year. The range of professional climber's salaries varies greatly.

Can mountaineering be a career? ›

Mountaineering As A Career Option

However, scientific advancements have changed this industry and made it a viable career option that is both respected and well-paid. Mountaineers live a vibrant and fierce lifestyle, and a career in this field is a mountain lover's dream come true.

How do I start a career in mountaineer? ›

5 Steps for Getting Into Mountaineering
  1. Step 1: Getting into the outdoors. Chances are you're probably well on your way to being a competent outdoors person. ...
  2. Step 2: Take a course. ...
  3. Step 3: Find partners. ...
  4. Step 4: Get the gear. ...
  5. Step 5: Get out there and practice your skills.

How do I start mountaineering in USA? ›

Hire a guide or take a class: A qualified guide will lead the way and teach you essential skills for climbing a mountain. If you want to go without a guide, first sign up for a class (or several) to learn how to travel on snow and glaciers, how to use an ice axe and how to rescue a fallen climber from a crevasse.

How do you make money from mountaineering? ›

You can be at the front desk or teaching other people who want to learn climbing skills. Being a climbing gym employee will allow you to earn a decent amount of money. However, if you want higher pay, then you can transition to more advanced mountaineering jobs such as teaching climbing courses or even route settings.

How do you get paid for mountaineering? ›

Sponsorships are the main way that professional climbers get paid. Other income can come from public speaking events, guiding, or books/movies. Unfortunately for the sport, there isn't really a climbing 'league' in the way that you have organizations like the MLB, NBA, and NHL to pay their athletes.

What is the difference between alpinist and mountaineer? ›

So, what's the difference between mountaineering and alpinism? Mountaineers will ascend and descend a mountain several times to acclimatize, whereas alpinists traditionally climb the mountain in one continuous 'push'.

What is Class 5 mountaineering? ›

Class 5: Where rock climbing begins in earnest. Climbing involves the use of a rope, belaying, and protection (natural or artificial) to protect the leader from a long fall. Fifth class is further defined by a decimal and letter system – in increasing and difficulty.

What is mountain climbing as a hobby called? ›

mountaineering, also called mountain climbing, the sport of attaining, or attempting to attain, high points in mountainous regions, mainly for the pleasure of the climb.

What do you call a person who climbs mountains? ›

mountaineer. noun. moun·​tain·​eer ˌmau̇nt-ᵊn-ˈi(ə)r. : a person who lives in the mountains. : a mountain climber.

Can you make a living as a climber? ›

The website suggests a yearly income of between 26k and 35k for climbing guides in the US. Some people can make that work. For an average rock climbing guide, this works out at around one hundred dollars per day. To make more money as a climbing guide, you'll need something that helps you stand out.

What is the highest paying occupation? ›

Highest-Paying Occupations
Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers$202,180 per year
AnesthesiologistsEqual to or greater than $208,000 per year
CardiologistsEqual to or greater than $208,000 per year
DermatologistsEqual to or greater than $208,000 per year
17 more rows
Apr 4, 2023

How profitable is owning a climbing gym? ›

A successful operation, depending on its size, will have up to 1,000 members and earn up to $650,000 in gross revenues per year. After facility expenses and paying employees' salaries, the owner of such a business could earn around $250,000 in gross profits before taxes.

What do mountaineers do for a living? ›

Explore to find what Mountaineers do, how they do it and how to become one. Mountaineers are involved in climbing, hiking, snow trekking and camping on mountains.

Is Rock Climbing a career? ›

There are a variety of careers and jobs available in the climbing, trekking, backpacking and mountaineering industries. Manufacturers are comprised of companies who distribute and or manufacture outdoor apparel, gear, equipment, gear and accessories.

Are mountain climbers worth doing? ›

They are incredibly efficient.

As a compound exercise, mountain climbers work multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time. In other words, they deliver serious “bang for your buck,” targeting core muscles, such as back, hips, and abs, as well as glutes, leg muscles, and even your shoulders.

Is 30 too late to start mountaineering? ›

Yes, you can start climbing at age 30 and 40 and still become a pretty good climber. In rock climbing, each route is graded, so you start out easy and progress to more challenging routes. I know of many climbers who started late and were able to improve fast. Can you start Climbing in your 50s and 60s?

Am I too old to start mountaineering? ›

Definitely keep going. Keep being consistent. Keep doing the training, it's gonna benefit you for your entire life if you keep on going. And it's much easier to continue into your 40s and 50s than to start in your 40s and 50s.

How long does it take to learn mountaineering? ›

If you are just starting out, it takes about 3 years of hard practice indoors and outdoors to get to this skill level. It's not only about the skill level, but the ease with which you use your skills. You can't just learn how to climb today and tackle mountains like the Matterhorn tomorrow.

Do you have to be good at rock climbing to mountaineer? ›

You don't need to be a master rock climber to be a mountaineer, but you need to acquire skills such as using a harness, tying a rope, belaying, and rappelling. You can learn these by spending a few days at a climbing gym or by taking a mountaineering class.

What are the hazards of mountaineering? ›

In terms of objective hazards, the dangers mountaineers face include loose or falling rocks, falling ice, snow-avalanches, the climber falling, falls from ice slopes, falls down snow slopes, falls into crevasses, and the dangers from altitude and weather.

What is the mindset of a mountaineer? ›

Everybody sees the summit, but not everybody sees the mountain. his/her safety and success. Having a mountain mindset is willing to walk into an adventure while keeping your eyes open for possibilities, bifurcations and new experiences.

Can you make a living as a mountain guide? ›

Mountain Guides in America make an average salary of $47,584 per year or $23 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $187,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $12,000 per year.

Can you start mountaineering in your 40s? ›

There are no limits to learn and start anything. You can start mountaineering at any age of your life.

Can I just do mountain climbers? ›

The mountain climber is a simple enough exercise to perform, requires no equipment, and is great for working your core and building upper body strength. Simply start in a plank position, and then alternate driving your knees up towards your chest.

What are at least 2 advantages of mountaineering? ›


It requires strength, endurance, and coordination. Plus, it's a lot of fun! Mountaineering is an excellent aerobic workout. Research suggests that it can help reduce symptoms of chronic diseases like type II diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer.

How much does Alex Honnold make? ›

This estimate is pretty uncommon for athletes in this discipline. Yet, he manages to cram in an annual amount of $200,000, while an average climber may only earn $15,000 annually. Since Honnold prioritizes a modest and humble lifestyle, it adds to his great income.

How do you ask for climbing sponsorship? ›

Be specific about what would be helpful, like name specific pieces of gear & how you'd use them or speak to funding a specific part of the project — don't just say “any donation would be helpful!” because that means more work for the other person to figure out what would actually work well and be beneficial to both ...

How do you get paid to travel? ›

How to get paid to travel
  1. Telecommute to your current job. ...
  2. Explore your company's other locations. ...
  3. Teach English or another language. ...
  4. Become a tour guide. ...
  5. Write a research guide. ...
  6. Become a flight attendant. ...
  7. Start a side gig. ...
  8. Find a new remote opportunity.
Mar 10, 2023

How much do you get paid to be an Everest guide? ›

Sherpas make at least $2,000 per climbing season, considerably more than the median income of Nepal, which comes in at around $540 per year. Elite Sherpas can make as much as $4,000 – $5,000 in just two months. By comparison, Western guides make as much as $50,000, plus tips.

What is the hardest mountain to climb? ›

At 28,251 feet, K2, which straddles the Pakistan-China border, is about two and a half football fields shorter than Everest, but it's widely considered the planet's toughest and most dangerous mountain to climb, earning the nickname “Savage Mountain.” Unlike Everest, it is not possible to “walk” to the top; all sides ...

Is Alex Honnold an alpinist? ›

In 2007, he bought a 2002 Ford Econoline E150 van, which allowed him to focus on climbing and following the weather. According to a 2011 Alpinist profile: In the mind of the climbing world, Honnold emerged from the goo fully formed.

What are the two types of mountain climbing? ›

There are two main styles of mountaineering: Alpine and Expedition.

What does C0 mean in climbing? ›

A0 / C0: Occasional aid moves, often without aiders, on fixed gear or very solid placements. Also known as “French free.” A1 / C1: All placements are solid and easy, long enough stretches of aid that aiders are normally used.

What does 9a mean in rock climbing? ›

9a (5.14d YDS) is the international climbing grade standard for elite free climbing. Many Olympic-caliber climbers send 9a or harder, but it is rare for climbers who don't get paid to do it. Ceuse, France is legendary for hard sport climbing.

What is a 5.11 climb? ›

Climbing Ratings Overview
Route Classifications
Class 1
5.11-5.12Hard to Difficult
5.13-5.15Very Difficult
6.0Can't be free climbed
8 more rows

What is it called when you climb a mountain without ropes? ›

Free soloing is when a climber is alone and uses no ropes or any other equipment that aids or protects him as he climbs, leaving no margin of error.)

What is mountain climbing without equipment called? ›

Free solo climbing, or free soloing, is a form of technical rock climbing where the climbers (or free soloists) climb alone without ropes, or other protective equipment, only using their climbing shoes and their climbing chalk.

What is a climbing guide called? ›

A mountain guide is a specially trained and experienced professional mountaineer who is certified by local authorities or mountain guide associations.

What is the most important thing in mountaineering? ›

1. NAVIGATION. Modern tools have revolutionized backcountry navigation. Today's mountaineer carries five essential tools while navigating the backcountry: map, altimeter, compass, GPS device, and a personal locator beacon (“PLB”) or other device to contact emergency first responders.

What is a synonym for mountaineering? ›

synonyms for mountaineering

On this page you'll find 7 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to mountaineering, such as: hiking, alpinism, backpacking, hill-climbing, and rock climbing.

What is a synonym for mountaineers? ›

synonyms for mountaineer

On this page you'll find 9 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to mountaineer, such as: climber, hiker, alpinist, backpacker, cragsman, and cragswoman.

Is rock climbing a career? ›

There are a variety of careers and jobs available in the climbing, trekking, backpacking and mountaineering industries. Manufacturers are comprised of companies who distribute and or manufacture outdoor apparel, gear, equipment, gear and accessories.

What is a climbing certification called? ›

The Authorized Climber/Rescuer course is a 2-day program that will teach new and experienced climbers how to climb safely, descend with various descent tools and perform rescues.

How long does it take to become a competent climber? ›

Getting “good” at climbing usually takes about 4 years of indoor climbing, but obviously this depends on a number of factors here, and it also depends on what you class as “good”. The grades V5 in bouldering (V scale), or 5.11 in rock climbing (YDS scale) are classed as better than average.

Is rock climbing stressful? ›

Rock climbing can quickly induce stress due to the fear and anxiety of falling, as well as the elevated cognitive attention it requires to plan movement sequences, recovery positions, speed of the climb, and timing of clipping the safety rope [2].

Is rock climbing a mental sport? ›

Climbing is “deeply meditative,” says Blount, who credits the sport with helping her cope better with stress. Even if you're having a subpar day, you'll have no choice but to block out unpleasant thoughts. “It really helps give this deep mental break, because you're focusing on doing this one thing.”

Is climbing a skill or a sport? ›

Rock climbing is an indoor and outdoor recreational sport that is one of the world's fastest growing mainstream sporting activities. It pushes you and makes you want to achieve more, and that's a skill that's useful not only on the climbing wall, but in every aspect of your life!!

What is a climbing rigger? ›

Theatrical hands (flymen), Swing Stage, Crane, Wire Rope Fabricators, and Sailboats are a few of the trades that have people with the job title "rigger". Although each trade has different skills associated with a rigger, they all work with rope and hardware to lift, secure, hold and move.

How do you make money as a professional climber? ›

Sponsorships are the main way that professional climbers get paid. Other income can come from public speaking events, guiding, or books/movies. Unfortunately for the sport, there isn't really a climbing 'league' in the way that you have organizations like the MLB, NBA, and NHL to pay their athletes.

How many grades are there in climbing? ›

USA grades

The number at the start is the class, and ranges from 1-5. Classes 1-4 cover hikes and scrambles, and when you hit 5 you are into rock climbing territory. Sub-classes kick in here, and range from 5.0 to 5.15 at time of writing, with finer gradations appearing at 5.10 (5.10a, 5.10b, 5.10c etc).

What does FFA stand for in climbing? ›

In free climbing, the term first free ascent (abbreviated FFA) is used where a mountain or climbing route was ascended without any artificial aid (devices for protection in the event of a fall could be used as long as they did not aid progression).

What is a professional mountaineer? ›

What does a Professional Mountain Climber do? The Professional Mountain Climber is an agile, adventurous soul motivated by the thrill of scaling mountains and the enjoyment of helping others appreciate all that nature has to offer.

What is a V5 in climbing? ›

The "5" refers to the “Class” of the hike, scramble, or climb. A "1" would be relatively flat land while a 5 is a rock wall that requires a rope and/or other gear to climb. A Grade 4 would require the use of hands and feet to scramble over terrain.

Do you need to be strong to be a climber? ›

Climbing requires balance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and good cardiorespiratory fitness. A strong heart helps pump blood to your working muscles, while strong muscles pull up and hold your body weight ( 1 ). Thus, make sure your workout program includes balance, strength, and cardio training.


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