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Making a career as a Trek Leader

How many of you dream about being full-time in the mountains? I am sure we just received a 100% attendance!

Who does not like to be in the peaceful mountains where one gets to experience the thrill and learn about life. It gives immense satisfaction once a trek is complete, imagine the pleasure of earning while doing that. We get many queries and applications from our trekkers for Trek Leaders. There is a wave of travelling and working full time in the mountains. So, it is really possible to work in the trekking field and what it requires?

The only proven way to work in the mountains is Mountain Guiding or Trek Leading. At least in India, that is the only way that guarantees stable income also. Other options are being Instructor in Mountaineering Institutes that conduct courses in the mountains, or organizing treks. It is no secret that organizing a trek is not easy. It requires a whole team of Trek Leaders, Cooks, guides and then permissions, management and the list is big. To become an Instructor one requires experience, deep knowledge, more certifications, which takes about 2-3 years. Therefore, the only feasible way is Mountain Guiding. So, how to be one?

The first thing is to,

Know yourself. Yes, before venturing into the wild, be sure you want to do it. Do not just hop on it only for pictures or a way to escape from society. Before investing in a month-long course, see if you can stand a trek first. For that go on for 2-3 moderate or difficult treks. See how your body reacts, are you really enjoying it. Only if you are sure and are doing it for the right reasons,

go to the next step…

Get certified. In India, Mountaineering Courses are compulsory to commence anything related to trekking or mountaineering. The primary one is the Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC). I am sure this requires no introduction, but for those who don’t know, it is a 28 days course conducted in the Himalayas. All the basics of surviving the high altitude are taught. It is like a month-long trek for some. You will learn a lot about yourself.

Where to get Mountaineering Certification? 1. Jawaharlal Institute of Mountaineering and Water Sports(JIMWS or JIM) in Jammu and Kashmir 2. Atal Bihari Vajpai Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS) in Himachal Pradesh 3. Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) in Uttarakhand 4. Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) in Darjeeling, West Bengal 5. National Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (NIMAS) in Arunachal Pradesh. Youngest of all, founded in 2013.

You noticed it right, every Himalayan State offers courses. Select your favourite state and apply for the course. Every Institute reveals its yearly schedule well in advance. Each Institute runs 3-4 batches only every year. Amongst these, NIM and HMI are extremely popular. If you ask now (2019), you might get a seat in 2022 batch. But, BMC from any Institute is good as long as you are not ready to wait that long. For further courses, you can be selective of the institute.

Once, the course is done, again analyse whether your body is ready to stay for 365 days in such conditions. Are you loving it? If it is a yes then,

Now that you have prior trekking experience and are BMC certified with an ‘A’ grade, there are two options again,

Get Advanced Certification 

After BMC if you are pretty sure about working in trekking field only then go for Advanced Course(AMC) and Method Of Instruction(MOI). There are benefits to these certifications, they add your resume. And they also open your gateway to Mountaineering field. You can then go for expeditions or work as Expedition Leaders with enough experience. There are hundreds of applications every year, with all the courses, you can stand out than others.

Get professional experience

If you are not ready to invest so much in further courses, then just apply for Assistant Trek Leaders. Again, there are hundreds of applications to all the trekking companies so have patience. Create your resume, build experience, do 2-3 days First Aid courses. Start out by working in local treks like the Western Ghats etc. Try to network with everyone related to trekking. After becoming Assistant Trek Leader if you manage to earn the confidence of your seniors you can directly be promoted as a Trek Leader. But it is a long shot.

Only when you are in the field you can understand its ups and downs. Being 24×7 hours in the mountains is really challenging. It requires a strong mind and body. It also requires good management skills to handle your trekkers.

The last thing required to be a Trek Leader is,

Patience. Once you have decided, be patient. These days everybody talks about becoming a Trek Leader. Give yourself time to stand out and work hard to achieve what you want.

So, see you soon in the mountains with your batch!

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