Off The Beaten Track
My first experience of outdoor adventure was a boy scout camp, when I was 11, which included a 2 day expedition with a night spent in a self made shelter in the woods.
For 10 years I was a teacher involved in introducing young people to the great outdoors through an outdoor activities residential trip in North Wales. After leaving the teaching profession and working for a large trekking company operating in the Pyrenees, I started my own business, Pyrenees Mountain Adventure, in 2010. I regularly guides clients from France into Spain on a trail that was used as a WW2 escape route - Le Chemin de la Liberté/Freedom Trail.
I have been visiting the Pyrenees for nearly 25 years and have been able to get to know the area very well. I have lived in France since 2005 to be nearer this beautiful chain of mountains and to discover more of its hidden gems. It has provided me with many magic mountain moments including a blazing meteor and an earth tremor!
I am passionate about the history of the World War 2 escape and evasion lines and have collection of 50 books on the subject. Other interests include, protecting the environment, the night sky and mountain photography. All the mountain images on the site are mine.
I have been a professionally qualified International Mountain Leader since 2010. I hold a carnet issued by the British Association of International Mountain Leaders (BAIML) and I am a member of the Syndicat National des Accompagnateurs en Montagne (SNAM) the French equivalent of BAIML. Both are part of the globally recognised, Union of International Mountain Leader Associations (UIMLA). This is your guarantee of safety and quality and standards of professionalism that you should expect from a Mountain Leader.
I am a Gemini, born in the year of the snake.
Paul Williams, owner, manager and trek leader at Pyrenees Mountain Adventure with 10 years experience of guiding groups in the Pyrenees.
Passionate about WW2 escape and evasion networks from France into Spain, Paul is photographed with his 50 or so books/articles on the subject.
Winter snowshoeing in the Pyrenees.
What Is An International Mountain Leader?
To operate as an IML, you must have completed the training and assessment for the International Mountain Leader qualification as set down by UIMLA and be member of the British Association of International Mountain Leaders (BAIML) or the appropriate national organisation of another (UIMLA) member country. You must also have an up to date First Aid certificate.
Someone with the IML qualification has the competence, knowledge, skills and abilities needed to lead groups into the mountains in any place where the techniques of alpinism are not required. An IML cannot operate on glaciers and must not complete a route where the use of a rope has been planned. Only a Mountain Guide has the qualification to operate like this. IMLs may only carry a rope for use in an emergency.
Why Hire An International Mountain Leader (IML)?
IMLs are trained professionals who will keep you safe in the mountains. You can leave the route finding to the IML and have more time to relax and enjoy the stunning views rather than having your head buried in the map. IML's have good knowledge about the natural environment (plants, animals, history, geology etc) and are usually passionate about at least one subject related to the mountains and walking. For me it is World War 2 escape and evasion lines. So time with an IML will bring the mountains alive - helping to enhance your journey and add to your enjoyment. IMLs can be found leading groups on the major walking paths and expedition routes throughout the world.
To be able to take groups into the French mountains for financial reward requires one of two qualifications: Mountain Guide or International Mountain Leader. To do so without the necessary qualifications is against the law. Always check that the person who is looking after you in the mountains has the correct qualifications.
Always check that the person leading you in the mountains has the correct qualifications
Look for the UIMLA logo on websites - your guarantee of safety and quality and standards of professionalism that you should expect from a Mountain Leader..