Pre-Summer ML (Mountain Leader) Training

I would like to point out that I am not currently ML trained but I am working towards my qualification, so this post is about giving information that I have found out while I am preparing to go through the Training of this, so you can come on my journey with me.

So for your ML Training for people that don’t know, you have to complete a set amount of days within the mountains. I believe that this is a good thing as it ensures that as a leader you are fit enough to to be in the mountains. Just to let everyone know that this is not an easy qualification to gain and takes a lot of time and dedication to enhance your skills so that you can work under the pressures of the weather and the terrain that you will be working with.

So far I have completed 8 out of 20 days within the mountains, so far my fitness levels have been good, which I would have expected from a PE teacher.

Once you complete a day or days in the mountains you need to record your experiences on your DLOG page. This is what the assessors can see and read through so that they can see if you have completed the set amount of time within the mountains. Within this log you need to say where you went, your start time and end time. You also need to explain what the weather was like and what your purpose was for this hike.

In order for you to register to do a log you need to be a member of the BMC (British Mountain Council) this is a national body that represents England and Wales to protect freedoms and promote the interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers. You also gain a card which gives you discount at different outdoor shops, this is always a bonus when you need boots, rucksacks, dry bags, maps and all the other essential kit needed for the mountains.

When we talk about going in the mountains we are not talking about just following a path we are having to navigate using your map and compass and looking at the contour lines and being able to follow or put yourself on a set contour line. (Not sounding so easy now). We have to be able to understand the land formations and what it can mean and relate it to the map. All very essential when you are trying to navigate a group down the mountains when the weather has closed in and you can’t see more than 20ft in front of you. As well as navigating you have to be able to measure the distance and predict what time you will get there, you need to also pace this for every 100m and know how many steps this will take you. This is something that I am working on so that it is more accurate, as for your assessment you have to be within 10m of where you should be.

As well as all this, on top you need to complete 10 wild camps, putting up and taking your tent down again the next morning. sounds easy right? No, when you are faced with 50mph winds and all your tent wants to do is fly off down the mountains, it’s defiantly an art to master. As part of your camp craft you also need to cook food in the mountains to help to keep you warm without taking to much that you are unable to carry it for 8 hours straight. You also need to have warm clothes, sleeping bag, and roll matt, I feel like I am starting to sound like merry poppins.

So weight, as a leader you would need have to carry essential equipment needed for the group such as extra water, first aid kit, group shelter, rope and maybe even an extra layer. As well as your own personal equipment. This sounds like a big bag right, yeh try about 60l +. It’s definitely not a handbag.

To be a good ML you need to learn about the landscapes and the area you are walking in. So you may need to go back to school to learn geography. (Not literally). But it will go a long way to explain to the clients about the area that you are walking in. This would be things such as plants and trees, something that I need to learn more off. As there is nothing worse than a client asking you a question that you don’t know the answer to. Trust me as a teacher it is a very hard to get out of a question that you don’t know the answer to and if you are leading children or teenagers they will ask you the most random questions, so be prepared.

The most obvious job that the ML does is to keep the group or clients safe within the mountains. So depending on your route, which would have been planned in advance to the level of the group. You may need to consider exposed areas of rock, where you would need to communicate with your group the obvious, as sometimes when people are distracted by the view they forget all common sense, such as trip hazards or lose rocks. You would also need to consider your positioning that your clients don’t fall so you can catch them. This is something that I have been spotting when I am out but I need to put into practice when leading.

There are many more things that i need to learn yet such as knocks, rope work and the skills needed to guide successfully. Some of this will be learnt when i go through my training week in August which i am really looking forward to. 

So this is my story of going through my ML training so far. Check out my blog for what happened after my ML training and the consolidation period.  

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