NMA successfully concludes the 11th Mountain Leader Course Component-1
By Dipendra Gurung | June 22, 2023

Mountain professionals, including guides and leaders, serve as the fundamental pillars of our adventure tourism. Their expertise and competencies have played a pivotal role in driving the steady expansion of Nepal's mountain tourism industry.

Undoubtedly, Nepal is fortunate to have individuals like Sherpas and other high-altitude experts who possess the physical resilience to thrive in challenging conditions. However, to further enhance our tourism industry, it is crucial to focus on nurturing and investing in the development of these mountain professionals. With well-trained and experienced professionals, we can ensure the safety and continuous growth of our mountain tourism.

Recognizing the significance of cultivating skilled mountain professionals, the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) has successfully organized the 11th edition of the Mountain Leader Course Component-1 in 2023. This initiative underscores the commitment to producing capable leaders for the industry.

A group of thirty mountain leader aspirants actively took part in a course held at Kakani in the Nuwakot district. The Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) appointed six experienced mountain leader instructors to carefully select these thirty participants from a pool of 44 applicants, based on interviews and thorough profile vetting. The course commenced on June 6, 2023, in Kathmandu, with NMA President Mr. Nima Nuru Sherpa and other officials inaugurating the event. The intensive 18-day course concluded on June 23, 2023.

The course will have two components, Summer and Winter. Upon successful completion of the winter component, all participants will be recognized as national mountain leaders. Furthermore, they would have the opportunity to take an exam enabling them to lead expedition teams in various European countries.

The summer component will prepare them to deal with any sort of problems that could be faced while leading the team on land, river, and desert. The winter component will tutor them to lead the team on glaciers. The course puts more of an emphasis on team management and safety, which covers navigation and weather forecasting, among other things.

Participants expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to sign up for this training. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and other issues, the NMA resumed this training after nearly three years. The last summer component was conducted in 2019. 

Ms. Pemba Sherpa, one of the participants in the training, enthusiastically expressed how the course provided her with the chance to fulfill her dreams. ‘‘I've been working in this industry for the past six years. My aim was to travel the world and work as an acknowledged mountain leader. And this training gave me an opportunity to live up to my dream,'' Ms. Sherpa from Khijidemba of Okhaldhunga said.

Mr. Furdeni Sherpa, another participant in the course, echoed a similar sentiment, emphasizing that the training presented a wonderful opportunity to acquire essential knowledge and skills. â€˜â€˜This is a great opportunity to pick up some crucial knowledge. This training has tutored us very important things theoretically and practically,’’ Mr. Sherpa said. ‘‘I am hoping to achieve recognition as an international mountain leader.’’

UIMLA Certification

This course is being assessed by the Union of International Mountain Leader Associations (UIMLA), marking the first time the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) has conducted training according to UIMLA standards. Previously, the NMA had conducted ten mountain leader courses based on UIAA (International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation) standards. 

UIMLA assessors, Mr. Szumiec Robert from Poland and Kubinsky Marcel from Slovakia, have now returned to their respective countries after successfully assessing the 11th Mountain Leader Course Summer Component. They were stationed at Kakani, Nuwakot for three days to assess the training.

UIMLA will also send their assessors for the winter component to validate the training further. Upon completion of this training and the final exam, participants will earn a prestigious UIMLA badge, qualifying them to work as mountain leaders in multiple European nations. Numerous European countries recognize and permit UIMLA-certified leaders to operate within their territories.

Both the assessors have expressed their satisfaction with the training conduct. ‘‘We are here to assess the training and primarily we find that this training is aligned with UIMLA standards,’’ Mr. Robert said before leaving Kathmandu, ‘‘The UIMLA assessors will be here for the winter component as well. We are hopeful that this course will be well certified.’’

Mr. Marcel seconded Mr. Robert. ‘‘Nepali instructors are doing a good job. We are yet to assess the winter component.  However, I am quite satisfied with the summer component,’’ Mr. Marcel said. 

Mr. Szumiec Robert, Poland

UIMLA assessor

Kubinsky Marcel, Slovakia

UIMLA assessor

What the Nepali instructors say, 

This course mainly focuses on safety and advanced leading on any surface on the planet. The graduates of this training will be able to lead the clients, coping with any kind of problem with or without any climbing equipment. They will also be aware of and adhere to local rules and regulations. Certified mountain leaders will have good opportunities at home and abroad. Certified Nepali Mountain leaders can work in many other European nations once this course is certified by UIMLA. Thus, we are trying to get UIMLA certification for this course. 

  • Mr. Keshar Shrestha, Chief Instructor

Everyone who successfully completes this course will be recognized as a National Mountain Leader. They will also have an opportunity to appear on the final test to get a UIMLA badge. This badge provides them with a chance to work abroad.

  • Mr. Dawa Tashi Sherpa, Instructor

After graduating from this course, any participant can lead the team anywhere. They will be able to prepare all the expedition planning, navigation, map reading, weather forecasting, mobilization of trekking, and expedition team and gain overall leading skills. This will contribute to making our mountain tourism safe. Therefore, this is an opportunity for us as well. Our hard work will contribute to producing skillful mountain leaders.

  • Mr. Ram Kaji Tiwari, Instructor