Qualifications Explained

At Stewart Mountain Skills all our staff are fully qualified for all the activities we guide and instruct. As well as having the relevant qualification, we are all also constantly undertaking Continual Professional Development to keep up to date with best practice and learn new skills. We believe that this is important in maximising safety as well as providing the best quality experience for all our clients. Our interest in each new qualification comes first from a solid base of personal experience in that activity, we unashamedly love our sports and love our jobs!

Sometimes, even for those of us who work in the industry, the qualification pathways with all the acronyms can be confusing. On this page I hope to make it a little clearer to understand what qualification your instructor should have for the activity they provide.


In the UK, the mountain qualifications are provided by Mountain Training UK. The qualification Pathway is shown below. There are several levels of walking Leader award, including a Winter Mountain Leader, as well as a qualification for summer mountaineering (MIA) and winter mountaineering (MIC).

The British Mountaineering Council have made some useful videos to show what is involved in each level of qualification:

Mountaineering Instructor Certificate

Mountaineering Instructor Award

Winter Mountain Leader

Summer Mountain Leader



The professional Bodies for Mountaineering in the UK are:

The Association of Mountaineering Instructors

The Mountain Training Association

Mountain Biking

Scottish Cycling - MBLA

The Scottish Cycling Mountain Bike Leader Award scheme has two levels: Trail Cycle leader for mountain biking in simple, non-remote terrain and the Mountain Bike Leader which includes advanced techniques and remote guiding.


There are two organisations providing qualifications for snowsports in the UK:


BASI - British Association of Snowsport Instructors

This qualification pathway is designed for snowsports instructors to coach skiing on piste within a ski area.


Snowsports Scotland - Alpine Ski Leader and Mountain Ski Leader

These qualifications are designed for people leading groups within a ski area and ski touring in the British hills.

Canoeing & Kayaking

Laura and Nathan hold qualification in Canoeing and Kayaking respectively.  These are provided by the Scottish Canoe Association - SCA. These qualification allow them to instruct and guide on moderate water, i.e white water.

First Aid

All our team hold up to date First Aid Certificates. They are a minimum of 2 days and specifically tailored to the outdoor environment, one example is here, provided by the British Association of Ski Patrollers. 

Ian also holds a WEMSI Wilderness Emergency Medical Technican qualification. Details are here.

AALA Lisence

In 2017 we were granted a AALA licence.

"The aim of adventure activities licensing is to provide assurances to the public about the safety of those activity providers who have been granted a licence.  In this way it is expected that young people will be able to continue to enjoy exciting and stimulating activities outdoors without being exposed to avoidable risks of death or disabling injury.

A licence indicates that the provider has been inspected by the Adventure Activities Licensing Service on behalf of the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, with particular attention being paid to their safety management systems with young people, and has been able to demonstrate compliance with nationally accepted standards of good practice in the delivery of adventure activities to young people, with due regard to the benefits and risks of the activity.'

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