Mountain Leader Training

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For any UBESters
who are interested in starting to lead walks in the club, or who are
looking to improve their mountain skills, the subsidised Summer
Mountain Leader training course application deadline is fast
approaching (10th April). The course lasts 6 days and
tales place in Snowdonia with Paul Poole, a local mountaineering
guide/instructor (http://www.paulpoolemountaineering.co.uk/). Here is
an extremely overdue update on what 6 of us got up to last summer, to
give you an insight into what’s covered in the course and to
hopefully convince you it’s worth applying for.
The 6 of us
jetted off to soggy Snowdonia for a week of honing our mountain
navigation and group management prowess. What followed was to be a
week of barbecues in the rain, scrambling in flip-flops (!), sheep,
evening cragging, too many kinds of lichen, and all around
mountainous fun.
(Some
evening cragging just by the campsite in the Ogwen valley – Photo
Ben Caley)
The first couple
of days were focused on navigation in the mountains. Despite the fact
that many of us were familiar with a lot of the techniques
introduced, you can never really get too much practice at these vital
skills; personally, getting more micro-nav and night-nav practice
really solidified my confidence.
(Rebs
getting some night-nav practice – Photo Ben Caley)
The third day was
a ‘quality mountain day’ walking up Glyder Fawr via Seniors
Ridge, a Grade I scramble. If you’re thinking of applying, it’s
important to keep a log of your quality mountain days (check out the
blog for more information!
https://www.ubes.co.uk/2014/02/17/quality-mountain-days/).
We talked about the importance of group management skills in a walk
leader, and how to juggle this with your other responsibilities, like
navigation.
After each day
out in the mountains, we had workshop sessions on topics such as
weather, access/conservation issues, legal issues and group
management. These were perhaps the most informative part of the week,
and really highlighted what any mountain leader should always be
thinking about before (and whilst) taking groups out in the
mountains.

On the fourth day, we learnt skills relating to steeper ground
(scrambles) and the emergency use of ropes in these situations,
including body-belays and confidence-roping. This included abseiling
with only a rope (something I hope to never have to use as long as I
live…). The rope skills introduced here were very different, and
much simpler, than those used when climbing, but nonetheless it was
completely new to me, and was perhaps the most interesting part of
the week.

(“Walkies
Duncan!” – Practicing confidence roping in Llanberis – Photo
credit Ben Caley)
The last two days
were an overnight expedition around Moel Hebog, including a wild
camp, to put into practice what we had learnt that week. This also
included more night-navigation, discussing safety issues to consider
in the mountains, and dealing with water hazards. At the end, Paul
gave us a useful individual de-brief to let us know how we’d done,
and which skills we could improve on.
Perhaps the best
part of the week, however, was the long summery evenings spent at the
campsite cooking, climbing, and generally enjoying being in one of
the most amazing parts of the UK. Particular highlights were some
summery evening climbing just beside Tryfan, and a barbecue in the
rain. I definitely don’t miss the midges though, which were
relentless and probably ate better that week than we did…
(Enjoying
the long summer evenings at the campsite – Photo Rebecca
Millington)
I’m really glad
I chose to apply for the ML training course, it was a great
experience, and is incredibly good value for money with the UBES
subsidy. The expertise of Paul and the other instructors was
invaluable, and their patience and experience meant that we got a lot
covered in a relatively short amount of time. I would highly
recommend the course to anybody with walk/mountain leader
aspirations!
UBES

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