Instructors and Guides

West Coast Mountain Guides will often use freelance instructors/guides to run the courses outlined on this website. The instructors/guides shown below will vary with the seasons. Many run their own small outdoor businesses and move north in the Scottish winter to find work. You may meet them working for other companies, both at home and abroad.

Instructors and Guides in the British Isles will be experienced and suited to the particular activity on which they are involved. Many instructors and guides you will meet spend their year traveling, climbing and working on mountains throughout the world. This experience brings a rich breadth of knowledge, which they will share with you. A few will be instructors under training by Bruce Poll himself. i.e. your instructor may be very experienced but not fully qualified in the formal sense; and the training by Bruce Poll may consist of off-hill mentoring without Bruce Poll being present on the mountain with you”.

Some of these instructors will be moving up through the various UK and international mountain training schemes of Mountain Leader UK and British Mountain Guides, BMG is directly affiliated to  IFMGA Also look at the Association of Mountaineering Instructors for more details.

West Coast Mountain Guides realise that work experience for instructors moving up through the UK and international awards structure is vital. We pride ourselves in the fact that numerous trainee instructors and guides have worked with us successfully over many years, before attaining their full IFMGA or MLT qualifications. We do not have a 100% safety record, but neither do many other similar mountain companies.Mountains are potentially dangerous arenas. West Coast Mountain Guides have never had clients fatally injured and we aim to keep it that way if at all possible. The experience and quality of the instructors and guides, whether trainee or fully qualified should be your guarantee of attention to detail, safety, enjoyment and success.

Instructors/guides for alpine courses and guiding will be members of the IFMGA as required by law in many alpine countries. Please be aware that taking a non IFMGA qualified guide in the Alps may invalidate alpine insurance policies.

Some of these instructors will be moving up through the various UK and international mountain training schemes of Mountain Leader UK and British Mountain Guides, BMG is directly affiliated to IFMGA.

Tamsin Gay

Tamsin Gay

Strangely enough I started my career as a graduate trainee in business management with an insurance company. Seems unlikely now that that could have been me. Surely I was busy doing something fun in those days? Well I was, it just wasn't whilst I was at work! Since an epiphemous moment of office boredom I have dedicated myself full-time to developing what was my hobby to become a qualified and experienced mountaineering instructor. It has been an exhausting and exciting journey but now I get to do fun stuff while I'm at work and in my spare time! However, I think the most rewarding aspect of my job is taking people on adventures to new places and empowering them to accomplish things they previously thought they couldn't achieve.

David Hormigo

As a freelance outdoor instructor I work with a variety of client groups, above and below ground as well as on rivers and lakes. My work as a mountaineering instructor may involve helping people make their first move from the local wall to the crag, teaching the art of navigation or developing skills on the longer mountaineering routes. I am based in the Peak District, but travel and work throughout the UK. I particularly enjoy helping people make the most of the challenging Scottish winter environment. When not out on the hill in my own time, I can be found on my road bike or enjoying a coffee and cake moment. MIC and IML."

Andy Ravenhill

Married with one Daughter, a daft Collie and four goldfish.
Outdoor Qualifications: Mountaineering Instructors Certificate.
Lives in Oban. Been in and around Fort William for 20 years now. Initially at Outward Bound, then freelance. Climbed and walked extensively in Scotland and most other parts of the U.K. Several trips to the Alps, expeditions to Peru and Nepal.

Bruce Poll

Fort William based for many years, after a time in the Lakes and North Wales. I am now splitting my time between the Alps and Scotland and managing the day to day running of West Coast Mountain Guides after Alan's decision to take things easier at the tender age of 67! I have been involved with West Coast Mountain Guides since the late nineties. I love the North Face of the Ben, particularly in winter and have been fortunate enough to have new routed and climbed some of the harder routes on the mountain to date, so hopefully can offer a few performance coaching tips. I never tire of helping people up the classics on the Ben, they are different every time, and also enlightening people to some more unfrequented gems. Similarly Skye holds a special passion in the summer. I will finish the British Mountain Guides scheme this summer, having held the MIC since '99, and keen to expand West Coast Mountain Guides operations further into the Alps with some ski work as well as a broader summer Alpine programme. My favourite area there, the Ecrins provides all year round adventures. I am also a keen fell runner, off-piste skier, paddler, paraglider pilot and sailor, when time allows. I have two young boys who also love the outdoors and big adventures. 

James Thacker

James is based in Sheffield, the Derbyshire Peak District being his main stomping ground. During the winter months he makes the annual pilgrimage north to climb and work in Scotland and on "The Ben" in particular. Personal climbing trips have taken James to the Outer Hebrides, the European Alps, Greenland and the Himalayas - personal highlights being an ascent of the North Face of the Eiger and the 3rd ascent of "Snotty's Gully", Pharilapcha West, Nepal.


Mark Scales

I have been climbing for about 15 years, having started on the gritstone outcrops of the peak district. Since then I have climbed all over the British Isles, Europe, and as far away as the Middle East, South America and Nepal, enthused by the never ending possibilities for the next climb or trip. After leaving school I completed a BSc in Outdoor Studies, which kick-started a career in the outdoors. Having work in various centres and with many different types of clientele, I now work as a freelance instructor, spending my summers in the Lake District, my winters in the Scottish Highlands, and my autumns working abroad, usually in a new place every year!

Richard Strivens

Outdoors enthusiast based in the Cairngorms, the dry side of the country, meaning less midges and no webs between our fingers and toes. I have been mountaineering in the UK since 1980 and have lived in the Highlands since 1992. Worked as a guide and instructor since 1994 and full time freelance in outdoor education since 1999. Walked and climbed in summer and winter in most areas of the Highlands and spent 5 years with Dundonnell MRT. Over the few years I have also guided walking and open canoe trips in Norway which is probably second only to the Highlands as my favourite place in the world. I am also an open canoe and sea kayak coach. I work in forestry and also have my own small company specialising in mountaineering, open canoeing, sea kayaking, bush craft and woodland skills.

Rocio Siemens

Although originally from Madrid, I fell in love with the Scottish hills the first time I came up over 13 years ago. Since then, I have been coming back winter after winter to enjoy the best and the worst of what Scotland has to offer! I have been working as an MIC for over 3 years and have recently carried on with my professional development by being accepted onto the British Mountain Guides. My favourite Scottish winter climbs include Mitre Ridge (Beinn a'Bhuird), Skyscraper Buttress Direct (Sgurr Nan Clach Geala) and, of course, Point Five Gully on the mighty Ben!


Cliff Smith

Climbed extensively throughout Scotland, the UK and the Alps. One time Himalayan climber now content to watch others struggle up big hills with no oxygen and a headache.
Holds a range of qualifications including:-
MIC, IML, MLTS Course Director for SML, WGL, SPA & CWA.
Level 4 Coach Open Canoe & Inland Kayak.
SMBLA Mountain Bike Tutor.
BASP First Aid in a remote environment.
Completed 250 Munros and is currently on a mission to try and paraglide on them all (currently flown on 176 out of 283).
Member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club.
Has lumbered around the London Marathon 9 times.
Born in Blackpool and follows the Mighty Seasiders through thick and (mostly) thin.

Adam Hughes

I have been Instructing at various levels for over 10 years and hold my MIC.

I had always gone walking with my folks from an early age, so when I failed to make it as a footballer I had to do something. when I did discover climbing it took over everything. As a result it has taken me to amazing places, with equally amazing people. This said I'm alway glad to come back to Britain. I'm one of those said people that loves a Scottish spindrift epic on the Ben. I can get just as excited about 10m of gritstone as a 500m limestone face in the Dolomiti.

Gillian Culshaw

I first took up an outdoor sport when I learned to ski aged 3. I skied competitively as a teenager when I got to love just being out in the hills and took up hill walking then rock climbing. My skiing has since become mainly touring as a great way to get about the hills in winter. I enjoy all aspects of mountaineering whether it be on rock or ice or going out for a walk in the Scottish hills. I really enjoy helping others to have the same experiences I have and giving them the skills to go back and do it for themselves.


Brian Morrison

I was born and brought up in Edinburgh and got into outdoor activities from a young age. After gaining a degree in Computer Science and briefly working in this field I made a career change and have been working in the outdoors since 1990. This has taken me all over he world but since 2000 I have been living in Fort William and mostly working in the local area. I instruct and guide in the mountains summer and winter and particularly enjoy giving people the skills to safely enjoy there own adventures. When I'm not mountaineering I also teach skiing and skipper yachts.

Dave Barker

Dave Barker is a full member of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors and holds the Mountain Instructor Certificate. He has twenty two years climbing and mountaineering experience, in both summer and winter, throughout the UK and in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Peru, China and the Himalayas.
Highlights being first ascents in the Xinjiang province of China of: Chiatuk 5582m by the north west face, about 750m of climbing at TD with some Scottish grade 4 & Yilpiz 5315m TD.
He has worked in the outdoors for all his working life, instructing a wide range of groups and individuals at a variety of levels and across a wide spectrum of activities, including climbing and mountaineering. He has worked at a number of LEA outdoor centres, as well as for a number of smaller providers of high quality outdoor instruction. This will be Dave's fourth season working a scottish winter.

Kenny Grant

I was born and brought up in Fort William and have been skiing, climbing and mountaineering in ‘my backyard’ of Ben Nevis and Glencoe as well as further afield for the past 15 years. I’ve worked in the outdoors guiding and instructing for the last seven years and after a period working for the National Mountain Centre, Plas y Brenin in 2008, I have returned to live in Lochaber. I hold the MIC qualification.
I’m a super keen all round climber and enjoy all aspects of the sport ranging from bouldering in Fontainbleau to Alpine North Faces. Some particularly memorable routes include the North Face of the Droites, The Cad at Gogarth, North Wales and Minus One gully on Ben Nevis.

Nigel Hooker

Nigel Hooker

2012 is an anniversary year for me – 30 years since my first winter climb on Ben Nevis, so do a few climbs with me to help me celebrate!
I have worked full time in outdoor education and instruction since 1987 and held the Mountain Instructor Certificate since 1996. I live in the Lakes but migrate north to spend large parts of the winter in Scotland.
Travels abroad have included extensive rock, ice and alpine climbing in Europe, North America, Norway and New Zealand.
It will be no surprise to you that I am a total climbing and mountain enthusiast who has lived every day for more than 30 years for the chance to be out climbing the crags and walking the mountains. My excitement at the prospect of a day in the hills, whether for work or play remains just as it was when starting out as a teenager all those years back.
The other anniversary in 2012 is 25 years married to Kath - better not forget that one!

Dan Goodwin

Growing up with climbing and mountaineering it was inevitable that I would end up earning a living in the mountains and quickly came to realise the best place for this would be the Highlands. I have spent many seasons working and mountaineering in the Scottish Highlands. On a personal level I have spent seasons in the Alps in both summer and winter and led expeditions to the Andes, Himalaya and East Africa including Kilimanjaro. I am also a keen skier and was a seeded racer through my teens but the lure of off piste skiing and ski mountaineering was more of interest than competition. I have toured in the Alps and skied throughout Scotland including many gullies. The work that I enjoy so much is to impart the enthusiasm and experience that I have had in the mountains to others who are looking for instruction and guidance and an enjoyable time in the mountains.
Qualifications held : MIC trainee, MIA, WML, SML, SPA and current first aid.