A quality mountain day (QMD) is a trip into the hills during which you develop your hiking and mountaineering experience. Ideally you should learn new techniques and skills, practice existing ones and, where possible, experience a new terrain.
The quality of a mountain day lies in factors such as the conditions experienced overhead and underfoot, the exploration of new areas and the physical and mental challenge. QMDs should make a positive contribution towards your development and maturity as an all-round mountaineer.
A QMD should include some or all of these criteria:
- The individual takes part in the planning and leadership
- Navigation exercises away from marked paths
- Terrain and weather that is comparable to that found in UK and Irish hills
- Knowledge is increased and skills practised
- Attention is paid to safety
- Journey time of five hours or more
- Challenging or adverse conditions experienced
Explore new routes
It’s impossible to develop your skills by using the same route repeatedly. For this reason a candidate who submits a log that has 20 ascents of Pen y Fan by the same route will normally be credited with one QMD. Only adverse or challenging conditions such as bad weather or undertaking a mountain rescue will usually be counted as a separate day.
Does overseas experience count?
Yes, but only if the terrain and weather experienced are comparable to that found in UK and Irish hills. Always take into account the complexity of the landscape, mapping and waymarking. For example, Bavaria, with its fairly distinct mountain forms, waymarking and well-made path system may not be a good match for UK leadership experience. As a general rule, up to half the minimum required experience can be undertaken abroad. It’s up to you to demonstrate that the terrain and weather conditions were comparable to the UK.
It’s worth making the point that candidates who achieve the minimum amount of required QMDs will normally be at the weak end of the range. The higher your QMD tally, the committed you will appear, always aim to exceed the minimum!
Make sure you always include details about what you did during a QMD, in particular any new challenges you face and overcome. You should aim to include solo climbs as well as unit expeditions and be able to demonstrate by means of guidebooks, maps and photos that any overseas expeditions took place on terrain comparable to the UK.