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Ascend Instructor Trainee Question & Answer

Who is Ascend and what do they do? 

Ascend is a non-profit organization providing leadership training for young women through mountaineering and sport. Our two-year program provides participants with leadership training, physical fitness knowledge, mental health & well-being support, and opportunities for community service, all while teaching mountaineering and climbing skills. Ascend has been training young women since 2015. This is the first year Ascend will be offering the program in Pakistan. Typically, Ascend trains between 30-60 girls each year who are between the ages of 16-25. 


We want all of you to apply to become our first Ascend Instructor Trainees. The program is designed with three levels: Instructor Trainee, Instructor Apprentice, and Instructor. At each level, qualified professionals administer exams and aspiring instructors are evaluated on rigorous, globally-recognized standards. Instructors who attain the highest (third) level of certification are competent in outdoors skills, safety and rescue, and leadership. 


What is an Instructor Trainee? 

Ascend employs a train-the-trainer curriculum designed to provide the knowledge and skills needed to train others to safely and responsibly access the outdoors. Women who become Instructor Trainees will go on to teach program participants in the Ascend program. Participants form the core of the program and join for 1-2 years. 


Must I be a certain age to become a Trainee?

Trainees must be at least 18 years of age to apply. 


How long does the Trainee program last? 

3 months (12 weeks)


Is it full or part time? 

It is 25 hours per week.


Is the Trainee program paid? 

The 3 months of training are not paid, but are provided free of charge to the trainees. Upon successful completion of the course, Trainees may be offered an Apprenticeship, which is a paid position.


What happens if I pass the training? 

After the three-month training, Instructor Trainees will have a basic understanding of key skills including but not limited to: rock climbing, physical fitness, nutrition, basic first aid and outdoors skills. If you have met program standards, you will be invited to become an Instructor Apprentice. 


​​What happens if I don’t pass the training?

Candidates who do not successfully complete the 3-month training course will not advance to the next level, Apprentice, and will not be offered a paid position with Ascend. However, candidates are able to join as a participant for a year first, and apply again in future. Candidates who drop out of the training will be required to repay the cost of training to Ascend.


What type of skills and education will I receive as a Trainee? 

Ascend employs a train-the-trainer curriculum designed to provide the more basic knowledge and skills needed to train others to safely and responsibly access the outdoors. It is Ascend’s expectation that women who become Instructor Trainees will go on to teach program participants in the Ascend program.


After the three-month training, Instructor Trainees will have a basic understanding of key skills including but not limited to: rock climbing, physical fitness, nutrition, basic first aid and outdoors skills.


As a Trainee you will gain lots of experience HOWEVER this three month training will NOT certify you to teach others without oversight and leadership of certified professionals. Instead, Trainees will be invited to become Instructor Apprentices. 


Who will train the Trainees? Can you tell us about the master trainer?

The master trainer is a deeply experienced professional who will teach the trainees and oversee the apprenticeship program. She holds numerous certifications in mountaineering, rock climbing, and other subjects. She will administer some exams, and facilitate other professionals to come to Pakistan to provide technical training and additional exams. Ascend employs female master trainers, guides and teachers. Master trainers may come from the U.S., UK, Norway, or any country where they have obtained the appropriate certifications.


​​How will Ascend factor in our cultural and social norms in the delivery of the program?

Ascend’s mission is to empower girls through mountaineering based leadership training. Our work is based on social engagement and thus requires deep trust and communication with the community, and respect for and understanding of cultural and social norms. Our facility will be female only, and we will take all necessary measures to ensure the comfort and privacy of our female trainees and staff. Ascend places top priority on the safety of our people.


​​I am currently a student at University; can I participate in the program as a Trainee if I have classes during the week?


While Ascend’s program is designed for after school hours, Trainees must be available during the day and therefore Instructors/trainees/apprentices must be available during school hours. There will also be weekend activities and trips Instructors need to be available for. We encourage all our participants to take their education to the highest level possible and Ascend will make efforts to accommodate those at University but we will not be able to meet all needs. The Program only runs after school so participants (not Instructors) only need to be free after school.


My brother would also like to attend the training with me. Can I bring him to class?

Ascend is designed for girls and women. To ensure the greatest comfort and confidence of participants and their families, we maintain a strict policy of females only.


Will there be any written assessments as part of the program?

Yes. Participants will be regularly assessed by qualified instructors in all 5 pillars of Ascend. Progress will be tracked in a log book, checked weekly by instructors to ensure satisfactory progress throughout the year. For those on the Instructor Trainer track, professionals will administer exams when trainees are ready to attempt certification.


Where will the training be held? What if I don’t live in Skardu? 

The program is in Skardu. Activities will take place in Skardu city on a daily basis, and occasionally further afield in Gilgit-Baltistan. All participants must live in Skardu or make arrangements for living in Skardu during the training/program.


​​Are there any other similar training programs in Pakistan for us to explore?

Ascend is the first and only program of its kind, not just in Pakistan but globally. Our focus is not only on quality physical training but also on preparing leaders; therefore the holistic approach and use of mountaineering as a foundation is unique. 


Can I launch my own training program on mountaineering and rock climbing while undergoing training?

Trainees are not qualified to safely teach others. The 3-month training period is the first phase of a longer term commitment to learning and practicing; trainees must complete an Apprenticeship and then qualify as Instructors before they are able to safely teach mountaineering and rock climbing. Ascend uses globally accepted safety standards and requires strict adherence to those standards by all its participants.

What happens after the three-month Instructor Trainee program is completed? 

Because the Instructor Trainee is free and Ascend is providing you with valuable skills that could lead to future employment, we require Trainees to work for Ascend as Apprentices.


What happens if I don’t want to become an Apprentice? 

Should you not wish to continue as an Apprentice, you will be asked to pay back to Ascend the value of the training you have received. 


​​What is an Instructor Apprentice? 

The term “instructor apprentice” will be used until such time as the employee holds the relevant standard of qualification within the activity. The employee will work as an instructor apprentice under supervision from a qualified instructor (a master trainer). The employee performs support tasks for the program as well as leadership roles in team activities, training, and expeditions. By observing and learning from Ascend’s master trainer and qualified instructors, the instructor apprentice can gain the necessary experience to pass Ascend’s qualifying instructor exams, and will at such time be able to instruct on her own. 


Instructor Apprentices should be physically and mentally strong, and motivated to lead others. Training outside scheduled events is encouraged to take place as often as possible, but should never take preference over work duties or general Ascend program activities.


What type of skills, training, certifications will I receive as an Apprentice? 

Instructor Apprentice can expect to earn:

Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder Certification

Physical fitness training

Basic climbing experience and prerequisite for Single Pitch Instructor Course

20 “quality mountain days” and prerequisites for Summer Mountain Leadership Training

Leave No Trace Master Trainer Certification 

Avalanche Safety 


​​How long does the Apprenticeship last? 

The Apprenticeship lasts a minimum of six months. Apprentices must accumulate sufficient hours of practical experience in each subject in order to attempt an exam and certification in that subject. In most cases, that will take 8-12 months.


What am I expected to do as an Apprentice? 

Apprentices will plan and lead all the daily activities for the program participants. That’s 30-60 girls per cohort, so an Apprentice can expect to lead small groups of 3-6 girls. This means classroom instruction to teach technique & form, coaching and mentoring, and planning and leading group trips such as a 3-day backpacking trip. Apprentices will help participants create and maintain a log book, and will provide regular reports to the master trainer. 


What happens after the Instructor Apprenticeship? 

Upon completing the Apprenticeship (which ends when all certifications for the position are attained), the Apprentice may be invited to become an Instructor with Ascend.  Ascend invests greatly in the training and preparation of each Instructor. We require that when we take on new Instructor apprentices, they will have the dedication and passion for Ascend's activities, goals and values, and have interest and ability to lead others in the Ascend program for at least two years, but preferably more, after they become fully qualified Instructors. 


​​How can I become involved in Ascend? 

If you are interested in becoming an Instructor Trainee, please read through the Instructor Training Program Description and the Instructor Apprentice Job Description on our website under Career and Volunteers

Completely fill out the application, and email your:

  • Cover letter 

  • CV

  • At least 2 professional or academic references 



We will follow up with you and, if you are asked to proceed to the next step, we will arrange an interview. 

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