Summer Mountain Leading Training (SML)

What happens after the ML Training? 

Well, firstly let me tell you about the training. There are two ways that you can do your training this can be from splitting the 6 days into 2 x 3 days or you can do whole 6 days. I decided to do the whole 6 days. Let me tell you it is very tiring but such great experience. 

Over the 6 days I made so many friends from all over, who enjoy the same things as I do, which really does make the course and the 6 days so much more enjoyable. They are very full days starting at 9am till 6 – 6:30 most days. You have to complete and exped within this week meaning that you have to hike for a day and then wild camp and then complete the next day navigation period. 

Everyday is challenging but it is meant to be as you are given so much information to learn and practice and take on board so that you can go away in the consolidation period and practice what you have learnt. 

The company that I did my ML training with was call Leading Edge who really did look after everyone so that they were able to develop and make progress throughout the week. This is not to say that other companies don’t do this but that this really did make for a good experience. 

Throughout the week the course covers all areas on the syllabus to ensure that you have the information ready for your assessment. This is very detailed but has to be when we are taking people up in the mountains. The first couple of days you take on board is navigation and the weather both of which are very important. This is done within and outside of the class room. It is also developed with difficultly throughout the week. Im telling you now this course could turn you into a weather reporter with the amount of information you need to know such as learning how to read the synopsis charts. 

You also cover group management and the way that you should deal with your group and how you should interact with them. So that your clients get the best possible experience of the outdoors but teaching them about the landscape that they are in and what is around them. It is also about learning to walk at the right pace for your clients so that they enjoy their time out as us keen mountaineers we like to sometimes out our heads down and stride up the hill, something that we learnt early on that we must not do, even if we are trying to stay focused on the navigation, pacing and timing. 

During the week we look at the legislation about the different access lands and how we can keep ourselves and our clients safe when in the mountains.  This is our responsibility to do as a ML we learn that this comes from the start, the planning of the route for the group and people that we are leading and the ability of them. We also have to ensure that they are equipped for the right weather, something that again we as ML’s have to take into consideration with the quality of the kit that our clients might have and if they are able to fulfil the day with a good quality experience. If the answer is no then we have to go back to the planning stage to ensure that we promote the outdoors with positive learning experiences that will fulfil there’s and your requirements. 

What a positive learning environment means

This means the same for both school teachers and for outdoor practitioners as it is about providing an environment that the learners (this could be school children, adults or clients) with an comfortable, safe and supportive environment so that they can learn and grow within. (Dorman, Aldridge, & Fraser, 2006 citied in Encouragement in the classroom Young 2014). If someone is not comfortable for example is cold and wet they are not going to want to stand around a look at a plant to know the name if it, which would mean that they are not in a positive learning environment. If they have lots of layers on and is warm and content they will want to take on information so that they are able to concentrate, listen and learn. This means that no matter your environment, if it is a class room, office or the outdoors it is imperative that the experiences are positive so that you are able to progress that person and get the best from them. 

We have to ensure that our environment is filled with lots of positive experiences and energy to outweigh the negatives that may occur Young, 2014) this will allow for any environment, no matter how challenging when in the outdoors can become a positive environment with lots of learning and development of the students or clients that you are leading within the outdoors. As a mountain leader this will mean that we have to read the environment and the situation that is around us and to read the clients that we have with us to ensure that they have a positive experience. This will be something that I will be assessed on when I do my assessment to ensure that as a ML I am able to provide the best environment for the clients that I will be leading. 

What happens after you ML Training? 

It is called the consolidation period, this period is to take on board the information I have learnt on my training and made suitable adjustments to ensure that I can fulfil the criteria. This could be a variety of things such as your Dlog needs adjusting with better QMD days or you need to go away and practice the rope work or night navigation. It also means that you have to ensure that your Dlog had more than 40 QMDs. As if you only just have enough they may say that you don’t have the experience to be a ML. 

So QMD’s need to be in all three areas of the UK these areas are Scotland, England and Wales. The reason for this is that your qualification is for the UK and so you should be able to navigate yourself around all of the different areas in the UK. I agree with this as you should have some idea with the different areas, as I believe that you would be too complacent on just the one area. This might happen but it gives you experience and confidence within your skills and abilities when you are within the mountains. 

Jo Brooke - Summer Mountain Leader Trained. Out hiking on the hills, always with a smile in any weather.
Jo Brooke – Summer Mountain Leader Trained. Out hiking on the hills, always with a smile in any weather.

So as well as gaining this experience it is about practicing your navigation skills and your leadership when you are taking groups up. This can be done in many ways by supporting fully qualified ML’s with their expeditions this can sometimes be paid and unpaid work. You can gather a group of friends to take up or you could just solo these. When doing your QMDs it is important to have a mixture of solo and lead hikes, but they do like to see that you are able to solo navigate as this provides you with more confidence when you are with groups. They also like to see in your Dlog consecutive peaks within one day not just single peaks. This is something that I need to include within my Dlog. But what is good is that during your training you meet so many people who are doing the same thing and can support you with gaining the correct QMD’s and you can support each other with all the different skills and refreshment of the skills. 

One of the main thing that you need to be able to do well is to read the weather and know what the weather doing so that you can plan your expedition according to the weather to ensure that everyone is safe. To do this you need to use different weather sites such as Windy https://www.windy.com/?25.357,55.405,5, Met office mountains https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/specialist-forecasts/mountain, Mwis https://www.mwis.org.uk and BBC https://www.bbc.com/weather. You need to take into consideration the wind speed and direction, what sort of front it is if its a cold, warm or and ….. You need to know the time line that this weather is going to take as well as the temperature at the different heights to ensure that the clients have that positive environment. 

During your training you learn how to read the weather charts and it will be an examination what you will have to complete when on your assessment. I think that this is a very important thing to be able to do as when you are out in the mountains you need to know what the weather is going to do as you don’t want to put your group or yourself in harms way. It is also very good to know when you are taking people out to see if they are equipped for the weather that might be heading in that direction and you would have to plan a place and route according to the weather and the ability of your clients. You would need to take into consideration the age and ability of the group to the terrain and the weather that is predicted on that day, to ensure for a positive learning environment. During the course of the expedition you would be expected to know the environment that you are hiking in such as the plans, birds, the land and be able to give information about it as you complete your expedition. You will be assessed on this as well as your group management to ensure that everyone is safe as well as your ability to navigate your way. 

Through this consolidation period you also need to complete your minimum 10 wild camps as during your assessment you would need to camp out for at least 3 nights and to carry the equipment needed for this. So the more practice you have the better chance you will have at being able to do this on your assessment. 

The closer you get to your assessment it is advised to ask for a bit of help on the areas that you feel unsure and pay for a trained ML to take you out to support you with the areas that you need to practice on to allow for you to have the confidence in preparation for your ML assessment. This will be something that I will be doing to give me the confidence boost be fore my assessment. 

If you need anymore information on what to do post your training there is lots of information on the web as well as talking to other people who have been through the process, again this is something that I have found invaluable to my progress to success of a ML. 

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