Meet the Team
This small group of experienced, passionate instructors have joined the Iona’s Adventures team to deliver outdoor skills courses that will soon be available. They have been specifically chosen by Iona as they are all current members of her walking group and share her values and ethos in supporting people to access the great outdoors. They’re here to create a safe and structured environment to improve your skills and experience whilst also ensuring you always feel like a valued member of the team. Regardless of your current knowledge and abilities, the team will make you feel welcome and supported. So take a look to find out a little more about them – especially the important details such as their go-to hill snacks!
“I’m an outdoor instructor based in Oban on the West Coast, and I’ve been instructing across Scotland for almost 10 years, plus further afield in Mongolia, Norway and Morocco. I hold the Summer and Winter Mountain Leader awards and the Rock Climbing Instructor award, and I also instruct rock and water activities like gorge walking, coasteering, and canyoning. After work experience at an outdoor residential centre, I realised this was one of the best jobs around! I love being able to introduce and share so many of the incredible Scottish environments, whether it’s the mountains in full winter conditions or a beautifully still sea with views out to the Hebrides.
My best days out always include great company and exploring somewhere adventurous, whether that’s mountain cragging, a remote beach for a wild swim, or a winter climb!
It’s always important to have snacks and lunch that you’re looking forward to, my go to lunch is humous – humous belongs in all parts of life! But my favourite treat is very dark chocolate, especially with added ginger or chilli, bound to warm you up in every situation!
Outside of work and play, I’ve been a member of Oban Mountain Rescue Team for seven years. I’m a callout manager and the Training Officer on the team, and love being able to give something back to the mountaineering community. I’m also a founding member of Our Shared Outdoors, an organisation set up to tackle and change the lack of diversity in the outdoors and promote underrepresented groups.”
Follow Kirsty on Instagram as @kirstypallas using the link below
“I’m a Climbing Wall Instructor and Mountain Leader. During the week I’m a Senior Software Developer, working on applications for the whisky and drinks sector. Contrary to popular belief, developers aren’t always crammed into a basement somewhere and I do have a window with a view. Despite this I am constantly finding excuses to be outside and exploring. Being an instructor takes me places both familiar and new, and is such a pleasure to be able to do something I enjoy so much in the outdoors. When I first became an instructor I was a novice, and much less confident at being out on the hills and on the climbing wall.
Being able to instruct others on their journey hopefully means I can show people some of these answers, and help them get outside and see some amazing sights. Becoming qualified taught me so much, not only about technical skills but about what I really enjoy in life.
Getting outside is such a great boost to mental health and is usually really fun. Being able to share this enjoyment with others, and take people places to see some of the sights and wild places is wonderful. My favourite adventure days aren’t always big epics or remote expeditions. Exploring somewhere new, getting some dramatic views, and spending time with some great company usually make the best day.
On the hill I always have far too much snacks! Its honestly a good job that we’re burning so many calories. I always carry some Kendal mint cake, but my favourite right now is Drumstick Squashies.
If I’m not out on the hill, I’ll be out on my bike, off for a jog, or down at the climbing wall. I don’t often sit still. I also have some admin to do, being on the committee of one of the local mountaineering clubs, and occasional I will be volunteering for a Mountaineering Scotland event.”
Follow Andrew on Instagram as @andrew.stalker.mountain.walker using the link below
I got my Hill and Moorland Leader qualification back in 2013, then my Mountain Leader in 2017. I’ve been using my qualifications mostly through my work at The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I support a number of centres and councils to run the DofE, which excitingly involves a lot of expedition support. It’s a really cool thing to help young people prepare for what is often their first big adventure, and to support new leaders to build their own skills and confidence out on the hill too!
I love working in the outdoors – one of the best things is wondering about the amazing places people might go with some of the skills that I’ve passed onto them. I love a good mountain day too, and Beinn Alligin probably takes the top spot as my favourite. It was my first solo day that involved some scrambling, and the views were just incredible.
I absolutely love dried mango – won’t go on a hike without it. While hiking is my main activity, if it’s outdoors and active I’ll definitely give it a go! I’ve been swimming and running a lot through lockdown, and I’ll occasionally jump on a bike or in a boat too. I volunteer with Urban Uprising – a charity that empowers young people through climbing. I’m currently working towards my indoor climbing instructor qualification, and I’m trying to be brave enough to lead climb outdoors too.”
Follow Ainsley on Instagram as @another_adventure_attempted using the link below
I am a Mountain Leader, Winter Mountain Leader, and aspirant International Mountain Leader. I work as both a Freelance Winter Mountain Leader and a Secondary School Geography teacher, so I am very patient and I get to work with people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.
I’ve always enjoyed coaching, teaching, and leadership in a variety of different professions and this combined with my love of the mountains meant it was a logical next step.
You’ll sometimes see the comment that a lot of the outdoors is just ‘common sense.’ I wholeheartedly disagree with this and am more of a believer in ‘you don’t know, what you don’t know.’
I have spent a lot of time in the mountains, guided thousands of people, bought the wrong kit, got lost, made mistakes at times (which happens to the best of us), invested a lot of time and money in my training and development so that I am able operate in some hostile environments as well as deliver the best experience possible.
Apart from the obvious physical and mental health benefits of being out on the mountains with others, what I enjoy most about instructing is helping people to achieve a goal. Whether it be to climb a certain mountain, complete a challenge, learn a new skill, or take their experience to the next level. My job is to make someone feel safe and give them more confidence and competence in their own mountain skills. It can often mean so much to someone to do this, it’s not always easy, and they may be doing it for a cause close to their heart. There may be moments of self-doubt or fear and to help them attempt something is a good feeling.
My top hill snacks are Heinz Tomato soup in a flask, M&S Hog Roast Sausage Rolls or M&S vegetable samosas, bubble gum flavour squashies sweets.
I am currently working my way through the Corbett’s and my second round of Munros. I also love ski touring, cycle touring, and bike packing. I have done 11 of Scotland’s long-distance walking routes by bike and love exploring Scotland’s islands on 2 wheels too. Also, enjoy a bit of Stand Up Paddle Boarding but only on a warm day.”
Follow Phil on Instagram as @filnelml using the link below
I now work full time as a mountaineering and climbing instructor, but until two years ago I was working as a doctor, and prior to that I completed a masters in mathematics! I’m also an International Mountain Leader and a Rock Climbing Instructor.
I realised how much I loved introducing friends and family to climbing and scrambling, and helping people have adventures that they might not otherwise have the skills to do. I love sharing all the emotions that come with an adventurous day out – anticipation, fear, excitement, happiness, exhaustion, success, and pure joy!
I love being part of someone’s journey in climbing or mountaineering, whether it’s their first steps like learning to navigate, or achieving a life-long ambition like traversing the Cuillin Ridge. It’s a real privilege to be part of that process, seeing the spark ignite! One of my favourite days ever was climbing the Old Man of Hoy Seastack with two friends who had only ever climbed outdoors once before! The whole trip was such an adventure; catching two ferries, staying in a bothy, scrambling down to the stack, five pitches of incredible climbing, and a free-hanging abseil of the top. We had so much fun!
When it comes to hill snacks I usually have a strange habit of exclusively eating peanuts in the mountains, however, I more recently became addicted to bring mince pies!
Other than climbing, in my spare time I enjoy skiing, running, writing, cooking and reading!
Follow Anna on Instagram as @rocksandtrails using the link below
Now that you’ve met the team…
Please do follow each of the instructors to keep up with their current adventures and to learn a little more about them all. You’ll find the links to any of the organisations they work and volunteer for included in the paragraphs above so check out all the amazing work they’re doing to help get more people outdoors and enjoying the mountains. I hope you’ll agree that by booking a skills course you’ll be in great hands with this small team of brilliant instructors leading the way. As soon as restrictions allow, courses will be available, so watch this space!
Do you have the right skills and qualifications to join us?
If you are a qualified mountain leader or have other relevant up to date qualifications and you would like to join Iona’s Adventures please do get in touch. At the moment it will remain a small team however it would be great to hear from like minded individuals who share the same values in helping even more people to safely and confidently access the outdoors. Please use the form below to get in contact and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.