Group Leader Interview: Darragh Carrol

Darragh Carrol is one of Peak Leaders top Group Leaders, looking after some of our Ski, Snowboard and Mountain Bike courses from Argentina to Canada! Darragh has an incredible background in outdoor pursuits, boasting qualifications in sports from climbing to kayaking in some pretty extreme locations. We’ve grabbed him to chat a little about our courses in Whistler last year and what we can look forward to in the upcoming 2016 season.

Group Leader Darragh climbing in Squamish

Left to right: Sean & Darragh climbing in Squamish

Hi Darragh, how are you?

Making the most of the winter season here in Whistler, the snow has been epic already, especially compared to last season and I’m currently training to become Whistler Blackcomb Ski Patrol, it’s hard work but really rewarding.

Let’s go back to where it all started, what drew you to life outdoors? Did your hometown play a big part in that?

What drew me to the outdoors? Good question… I suppose deep down I knew there must be something more, I needed to grow, a challenge that had never been fulfilled. It was more of a who am I kinda journey, what am I good at? I had always been very nervous around water and terrified of heights up until I was 18. The best advice I had ever received and still use today is: WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS ON SOMETHING YOU SEE EVERYDAY! PUT A DATE ON IT!

Living in Ireland and Dublin to be exact means more to me now than it did back in the beginning. After travelling around the world you realise that you actually have everything right under your nose and perhaps didn’t appreciate it! If you ask anyone in the outdoors community, getting outside, whether it’s going for a run, a walk or lucky enough to pursue skiing or mountain biking, it has more of an impact on you as a human being than just your health. It sounds very magazine like but the only major factor limiting you to achieving goals is yourself. Of course, it always sounds easy, but it’s about making small changes, changing habits and making new ones! I love to talk to people face to face and pass on my passion for just being outside.

Group Leader Darragh has the Argentina trainees out for fun in the water!

Darragh was Group Leader for Peak Leaders in Argentina. Active rest day with trainees!

What comparisons can you draw from your preferred sports to downhill mountain biking?

Haha another great question. Fear is the answer…and how you choose to deal with it that’s key. For me it’s about getting a hold on it and trying to break it down into little smaller, manageable parts until it turns into something I can manage.
If I put this in context to my favourite sport, kayaking, the biggest risk is capsizing. When you learn the right skills; how to roll a kayak, all of a sudden you enjoy the part you used to fear and your confidence grows, ultimately overcoming your fear. For biking I found that once I learned all the theory and skills, practicing jump and drop demos, it’s time to just let go and let your brain do the work. Butterflies in the stomach can be the best feeling in the world when YOU’RE ready.

Group Leader Darragh ripping up the trails in France with friends!

Enjoying some DH in France

You’ve travelled a lot, would you say your passion for the outdoors has taken you to some far flung places? Where has been your favourite destination so far

I was very lucky to have been the Group Leader in Argentina last August for the 9 week Ski Instructor course in Bariloche. I love to travel spend some time properly exploring. It takes time for locals to allow you in and show you their way of life or any local gems. The people of Argentina and especially the Argentine Peak Leaders staff are some of the warmest and most incredible people I have ever met. I live in Whistler which is the hub of the outdoor world; top gear, top resorts. When in Argentina it’s nice to be humbled when a young kid or old man skis by at mach 10 on skis that wouldn’t go for $10 and he makes you look like bambi on ice…haha. No time for egos down there, too much good meat and wine to tackle first!

Group Leader Darragh facilitating a climbing day out in Squamish

Climbing in Squamish

Can you tell us a bit about your role as Group Leader with the Bike Park Academy?

With my previous experience running instructor courses, my main focus is to make sure both the trainee and our providers on the ground get all the support necessary in order to maximise what they can achieve during the course. A high end instructor course like the Peak leaders Bike Park Academy require a lot of planning and also day to day assistance in order to run smoothly. I really like to get to know each trainee well and offer help or advice in any way possible.

The trainees go back to basics, demonstrating angulation on the bike for cornering technique

Bike Park Academy trainees getting their cornering technique dialled!

What were the highlights of the course, and how do the graduates shape up?

2015 was one to remember, I was mostly around on the hiring camp but both courses seemed to have some serious bikers and characters. The highlight is always the people you work with. I love to spend time in the outdoors with people who share that passion. The people who come on our biking courses are dedicated and super keen bikers . We can’t measure that or put it on any brochure but it is a highlight of any course! This year was no exception, If I was to pin down one particular moment I would have to say our Peak Leaders Biking family BBQ. This year we invited 50 of our past and present instructors to an end of season BBQ. It was great to see the family that has been created over the years coming together and letting our team know we are doing a great job producing the industry leading instructor course. We had tons of food and beers on offer courtesy of our team to thank our trainees for a great season. We setup a mini assault course with mini bike too! It was a superb night, and we will be doing the same this year!

Group Leader Darragh organises the first Peak Leaders family BBQ, with all our trainees from over the years

Peak Leaders end of season family BBQ

You’re a bit of a grafter, can you tell us how important a good work ethic can enhance your opportunities in Whistler?

To be a guide, coach or instructor, looking after people in the outdoor needs a level of detail and attention that takes years to learn and years more to master. What makes someone good at what they do? Well making mistakes is natural and needed, it’s how you react and overcome them that really matters! This will separate the the good from the brilliant. Everytime I go outside for work I need myself to be completely ready to roll, account for up to 6-12 people who may not be as well prepared, trained or aware of their surrounding and dangers. Preparation is key; make sure you have everything you need, itinerary, packed bag, first aid kit and any other eventualities. I should be able to speak to each client and ask questions and inspect kit before we even leave the base area. This gives me a good picture of the day and people before we even leave. Think smart, think early and don’t be afraid to call it, safety first always…

Group Leader Darragh shows us how to kayak off a waterfall drop

Darragh hurling himself off cliffs in a Kayak!!

As Group Leader, if you could offer some advice for newcomers to Whistler, what would it be?

Go easy, we all want to last a season and have the best possible experience!

1.Know your limits. Send it early = Going home early.

2. Diet. Pizzas and burgers won’t keep fuel in the tank. Riding big kids trails needs big kids food. Eat well or hit rock bottom. Pun intended!

3. Party hard or work hard…the course requires all your focus and dedication. Put in 100%, get 100% out! Whistler is now an 11 month a year resort, it’s outdoor heaven, and there’s plenty of time to party! Use your money on Gas and go try the incredible trails in Squamish and Pemberton with your new Whistler friends.

2015 Bike Park Academy trainees on their first day!

Bike Park Academy trainees 2015

What’s your plans for the Bike Park Academy in 2016?

Well we have some new elements on the cards this year, which we are all stoked about, looking to focus on rider development…but… I can’t give away too much as it’s kind of a secret and we are still working hard to bring it to life! Just book on either course and we look forward to meeting you, you’ll not regret it!

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Bike Park Academy, Whistler (3 week course) 16th May 0 17th Jun @£3000.00

Coaches Camp, Whistler (5 week course) 27th Jul – 31 Aug @ £3950.00

Call us on +44 (0) 1337 860 079 or message here for a chat about Peak Leaders mountain bike courses, ski instructor courses, or snowboard instructor courses