Mountaineering Instructor & Coach
Plas y Brenin

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Mike R

0.00.00 Hello, I’m Mike R. I work at the Plas y Brenin, the National Mountain Centre in North Wales and I’m a Mountaineering Instructor and Coach. Most days we’re out on the mountains doing something, either hill walking, climbing, mountaineering, ice climbing, rock climbing, any of those sort of things. I knew from the age of 14 that this is what I wanted to do cos I’d been on an activity holiday as a 14 year old

0.00.30 and thought yeah, that’s what I want to do. At school I was into sports. I wasn’t into academic pursuits at all. And it was a time where the more standard careers were the ones that were advised. If you’re into the outdoors it was maybe join the Army, something like that, which I knew wasn’t what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to go into that world. I wanted to work with young people in the outdoors principally. Well through school I kept hill walking, working

0.01.00 with the scouts, working with the JV in school, started rock climbing, started kayaking, did some caving. I didn’t see any future in doing any of those things because I was advised away from them. And with hindsight I was actually incredibly lucky that I had a Saturday job that I really enjoyed on the market selling fruit and vegetables, I was a greengrocer. So when I left school I just carried on doing that. It was a great job except it was long hours, hard work, but there was lots of different aspects to that as well,

0.01.30 learning about talking to people, selling things, how retail works, buying things, finance. For me with hindsight was actually better than going to university cos I learnt about the real world in the real world. But while I was a greengrocer I was still rock climbing principally by this stage and rock climbing to quite a high standard. And a lot of my friends in the early 80s were unemployed and there was a lot of unemployment at that time and they were climbing full-time. And after a few years of working

0.02.00 for myself and running my own business, I needed to either commit fully to business and take that as my career, or while I was still young enough, give myself the opportunity to climb as hard as I could. So what I did is I applied here to Plas y Brenin for a trainee instructor scheme. So I came along here and worked as a climbing instructor for a summer and I actually loved that as much as going climbing and that started me off on this new career path.

0.02.30 I was lucky my family have always been very supportive about what I do and their main concern is that I’ll be happy in doing what I’m doing. My father works in computers and my mum was a housewife who became a teacher in later years. We’ve never been a family that’s motivated by money or finance or material goods. It’s the quality of life everyday and the people that you’re working with and getting out and enjoying this sort of place, it’s far more important really.

0.03.00 So outside of work I spend most of my time rock climbing or thinking about rock climbing. If the weather’s not too good then I’ll go mountain biking. I might do a bit of skiing in the winter. I don’t tend to go paddling now, my paddling days are probably behind me but I don’t do anything else. The future’s very difficult because I really enjoy what I do. I love going out on the hill every day. I love working with young people. I do have to be a little bit aware

0.03.30 that it takes a bit of a toll on your body and I perhaps do need to be thinking about spending a little bit less time on the hill. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for any opportunity that come along over the next couple of years that may involve some management of outdoor centres or management of training schemes. But it’s difficult to put your heart and soul into applying for anything different when the job that you already do is so fantastic.



Mike R is a Mountaineering Instructor and Coach at Plas y Brenin Mountain Centre. As a teenager he was advised against making a career out of outdoor activities so he set up his own business as a greengrocer. But friends became full-time climbers so he applied to Plas y Brenin as a trainee instructor, and proved his careers adviser wrong.

More information about Sports coaches, instructors and officials

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

61%  male 
39%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

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? Sports coaches, instructors and officials work with amateur and professional sportsmen and women to enhance performance, encourage greater participation in sport, supervise recreational activities such as canoeing and mountaineering, and organise and officiate at sporting events according to established rules.
There are no formal academic requirements although individuals must have experience in their sport and the relevant coaching and refereeing qualifications. Applicants to coaching courses must normally be over 18 years old and hold a first-aid certificate. Some courses encompass coaching awards within broader programmes of study. NVQs/SVQs in coaching are available in the context of certain sports. Background checks including a CRB check are required for those working with children.
  • Coaches teams or individuals by demonstrating techniques and directing training and exercise sessions;
  • Controls team selection and discipline and recruits ancillary staff such as coaches or physiotherapists;
  • Monitors and analyses technique and performance, and determines how future improvements can be made;
  • Deals with administrative aspects such as arranging matches, contests or appearances for athlete or team, and organising required transport and accommodation;
  • Provides information and develops facilities to encourage greater participation in sport, and to enhance the standards of participants;
  • Understands health and safety aspects of various activities and ensures any statutory requirements are met;
  • Inspects and maintains specialised clothing and equipment;
  • Manages the playing areas and competitors, starts race, competition or match and controls its progress according to established rules.
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