Sustainability Mountain Leader, Darren Axe @dnaxe: A Day in the GeoLife Series


Darren Axe, Sustainability Mountain Leader. Snowshoeing on the Plateau d’Agy, Haute-Savoie, France. ©2018 Darren Axe

NAME: Darren Axe

CURRENT TITLE: International Mountain Leader (since 2016) and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (U.K.)

AREA OF INTEREST: Core interest in the concepts, challenges, and opportunities presented by the Sustainable Development agenda.

EDUCATION: BSc Physical Geography Degree from Lancaster University (2009)


TWITTER: @dnaxe

INSTAGRAM: darrenaxe

What’s your job like? 

It is fantastic being able to combine outdoor recreation, discovery of the world, and learning for sustainable development in a job. It is challenging at times bringing it all together but when it does, and you’re out there in the landscape teaching others but also learning yourself, it all feels very worthwhile.

View over the Sound of Arisaig to the Inner Hebrides from An Stac, Scottish Highlands. ©2018 Darren Axe

What’s a typical day like?

A typical day leading a group in the mountains extends beyond that one day itself. The planning may have started days, weeks or months in advance and reflection continues long after. However an ideal day usually but not exclusively has good weather and subsequently great views of the surrounding landscape such that the enjoyment and learning are achieved to the fullest potential. Physical exertion is a key part of the experience. At the end of the day, there’s a great feeling of relaxation, knowing that you’ve achieved a great deal physically and cognitively.

What’s fun?

Being out in the mountains, enjoying the scenery, and learning new concepts and ideas from the group. There’s a great pleasure to be had from collective and collaborative discussions in a natural, out of the classroom setting.

mountain leader

Darren Axe, International Mountain Leader. Sgùrr Nan Gillean, Isle of Rùm, Scotland. ©2018 Darren Axe

What’s challenging?

When the weather is not on your side or logistics don’t go to plan. However, this is all part of the enjoyment of the job, dealing with the unexpected and making sure everyone is comfortable and safe.

What’s your advice to students?

Make the most of any experiences offered through your degree programme to explore concepts in real-life, out there in the field. This usually involves field excursions and they are not just limited to the natural and physical sciences. Some of the best field trips combine concepts from the natural, cultural, technological and social sciences and demonstrate inter-disciplinary learning at its best.

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