International Mountain Leader – first year of training

Finally, a new blog post after half a year of silence!

As I already mentioned in an earlier post, I started my training to become an International Mountain Leader, organised by the CAB (Club Alpin Belge), this year. After the entrance exam last year in october, we had a pretty intensive schedule the last few months which we concluded with a week in the Jura mountains in early july. The first year of this 3-year training schedule concentrates on ‘hilly’ terrain. The real mountaineous terrain like in Alps and Pyrenees make up the main course of the second year, whilst the 3rd year concentrates on trekkings in winter.

Map for one of our orientation tests in the Ardennes

Map for one of our orientation tests in the Ardennes

A wide array of topics are eludicated during this first year: first aid and mountain resue, physiology, meteorology, geology, biology (generalities + a list of about 100 species which we have to recognize with ease – and know some extra’s about), pastoralism and traditional way of life, building styles, some notions of law and insurance, quite of bit of orientation including a test during the night, trip planning, guiding of groups and handling ‘difficult’ clients, rope techniques, …

We first had a series of ‘theory’ lectures before going out on the field, and eventually finishing our first year with a 3-day trip in the Belgian Ardennes and a very rainy 5-day evaluation trip in the French and Swiss Jura Mountains.

Presentation about traditional cheeses of the Jura mountains

Presentation about traditional cheeses of the Jura mountains

Overall, the training has easily met and surpassed my expectations, both in terms of content and quality of the courses, and professionalism of our teachers. My experience in trip planning and long (solo) expeditions made me feel comfortable for the bits like trip planning and orientation, but my learning curve on other disciplines like the biology or rope techniques was steep. The language barrier (I follow the course in French) was an obstacle and made studying hard at times, certainly for the more technical bits like law, first aid and biology, but thanks to the open-minded attitude of our coaches Markus and Dominique and of all the other Walloon participants did not pose major problems in the end.

I’m already looking forward to the next bits! Unfortunately, as we are too little candidates, the second year of the training will only be organised during the first half of 2016, preceded by a serious entrance exam in october 2015.

I highly recommend taking this course to any Belgian interested in either guiding groups in the mountains, or just expanding his or her knowledge. The first year will be organised again in 2015 (with an entrance exam on the 27th of september), all details about enrollment can be found on the CAB website.

Flora stop in the Combe Verte, Jura Mountains

Flora stop in the Combe Verte, Jura Mountains

We had 96 hours of almost continuous rain during our trip to the Jura!

We had 96 hours of almost continuous rain during our trip to the Jura!

Guiding the troop

Guiding the troop

5 thoughts on “International Mountain Leader – first year of training

  1. Willem says:

    Hey David, voor alle theoretische modules is geen voorkennis vereist. De enige toelatingsvoorwaarden zijn:
    – Door de ingangsproef geraken (wandeling 20km af te leggen binnen de 4u + oriëntatieproef).
    – Een palmares hebben van minstens 10 dagtochten met meer dan 800 hoogtemeters + 20 dagen meerdaagse tochten (huttentochten of trekkings met de tent).

    Interesse om in te schrijven?

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