News 2013

Title: Mountain Training Conference
Date: 28&29/11/2013
System Date: 11/12/2013

Mountaineering Ireland Mountain Training Conference

Tollymore, November 28&29



It isn’t often that over 70 people involved in mountain training find themselves together in the same place at the same time. The turn-out for this, the first mountain training conference on the island of Ireland, was high. In addition, the breadth of experience and background made for a unique mix of perspectives on mountain training in Ireland today and it’s future.


Mountaineering Ireland would like to thank all our speakers, our brave debaters and facilitators for the break-out sessions where the discussion continued and the key thoughts recorded and those who delivered the Sunday morning workshops. A special thanks also goes to Tollymore National Outdoor Centre for their hospitality and great organisation which helped ensure the event was as successful as it was.


If anyone was under the mis -guided impression they were coming for an ‘easy couple of days away from work’ they were in for a shock! Thursday was a packed day of talks, discussions, debates  and more discussions! Mountaineering Ireland President, Ursula MacPherson opened the conference at 10.00am and there was still engrossed discussion around the dinner tables well after midnight!


John Cousins from MTUK and Michael McGeehin from Coaching Ireland started the conference with brief presentations on the developments in Mountain Training in the UK and in Coaching from a European and Irish point of view, respectively. These  were  followed by presentations from Jane Carney, Mountaineering Ireland’s Training Officer (A foundation for long term participation), Michelle Casey, Wild (A Career in the Outdoors) and from Colette Mahon, Wexford Hillwalking and Mountaineering Club (What Clubs Need). The break-out sessions which followed these presentations provided the opportunity for further discussion and feedback on these topics. Please see the below links for a summary of these sessions.


A Foundation for Long Term Participation

A Career in the Outdoors

What Clubs Need  


Thursday afternoon saw three big debates with the added twist that those debating only found out which side of the motion they were arguing as they got up to speak! The topics debated were:


1.        ‘Awards for Life – re-validate or not?’ with Alun Richardson arguing that periodical re-validation for Award holders was the only way to ensure continued high levels of competence and up to date knowledge. Opposing the motion, Orla Prendergast argued that Award holders should not be required to attend CPDs by the governing body and that these exercises, when carried out, were often simply tick box exercises with no direct relevancy to the award holder.  Click here to see the summary of the break-out session for this debate.

2.        ‘Leave no Trace – Fab or Fad’. Darach Ó’Murchú, somewhat relieved when he found out he was arguing in favour of Leave No Trace, went on to make a passionate stand for LNT and it’s principles. In opposition, Stephen Miller argued that LNT didn’t introduce anything new and encapsulated what people  were already doing.

Click here to see the summary of the break-out session for this debate

3.        ‘The Regulation of Adventure Activity – Good or Bad?’ with Ursula MacPherson supporting the motion that regulation is essential to maintain standards in the industry and Karl Boyle making an impassioned plea against regulation, based on the premise that regulation hadn’t achieved much in Irish life let alone in the outdoor industry.


Well done to all those debating who, in some cases, were arguing very much against their own personal beliefs. Considering, they didn’t know which side of the argument they were debating until seconds before they started speaking, everyone did a great job in getting across  key thoughts which then provided the basis for some very lively break-out sessions afterwards.


The first day of the conference ended up with an after dinner talk from John McCune, a young local aspirant  who is going through the British Guides system. John gave an enthralling and very honest account of his mountaineering adventures so far.


A choice of workshops on the following morning allowed participants to choose from topics such as:


‘The Business of Mountain Training’ with Brendan Donlan 


‘Movement Skills’ with Damien O’Sullivan and Paul Swail


‘GPS and Digital Mapping’ with Kevin O’Callaghan


‘Keeping Adventure in Mountain Training’ with Dawson Stelfox and Alun Richardson


‘The Mountain Environment and the Responsibility of Mountain Trainers’ with Kieran O’Hara.


Intent on not leaving any moment unoccupied in the schedule, Jane Carney ran workshops for Mountain Trainers on both Thursday evening and Friday afternoon. Thursday evening also gave AMI members a chance to meet together to discuss plans for the new all island Mountain Training Board.


With many travelling long distances to Tollymore, the conference finished up at lunch time on Friday. Given the success and great feedback we have had from this conference, we hope to run a similar event every three years and importantly to keep the discussion and feedback current and ongoing in the meantime. Don’t wait for the next conference to pick up concerns or make suggestions to us – please email us with any thoughts on