Despite feeling like I am confident and experienced when outdoors, I also realise the importance of further training and qualifications where appropriate. I am going to write a series of articles based around my ML (Mountain Leader) training, then building up experience and hopefully the ML assessment.
I undertook the BELA (Basic Expedition Leaders Award) a couple of years ago but the ‘experience’ was not what it should have been, through what turned out to be a very poor course provider. It is interesting coming from a teaching background analysing how people deliver courses. A number of areas become immediately obvious including organisation, communication and paperwork. All the boring but necessary parts that a provider should effectively deliver and the course learner should not need to think about. After my underwhelming BELA experience I thought I’d use Apex Training, based in the Lakes District, after hearing very good first hand reviews of them, indeed Mick Fenwick had completed his ML training with Simon McCabe and assessment under the rigour of Paul Platt who apart from being the companies director is also the chair of the association of mountaineering instructors.
This week has been filled with preparation, filling in my DLOG (digital logbook through the MTA website), shopping for the last few pieces of kit and doing some preparation reading. The DLOG should be an easy job as the layout is pretty straight forward and the selection options are really efficient. However, it is a little intimidating wondering whether the routes I have done are good enough to qualify as either QMD’s (Quality Mountain Day) or QHD’s (Quality Hillwalking Day) and how much and what kind of detail is needed when filling in the descriptions. At the moment there are no examples of description to base your own on which would be very useful. The kit shopping was mainly updating/upgrading some items for the intense season to come following the training. Again, doubt creeps in and I wondered how much to pack, which extras I might need and what I might forget. For any normal multiday trip I have my packing down to a fine art, for weight and comfort after all these years but the added pressure of wanting to do well on this course have me questioning everything! All of these activities have been interspersed with some extra reading from a range of books linked to mountain leadership and the Lake District in general but with the added pressure of work it has made this much more difficult and much less enjoyable than it should have been.
As a final point, I realised in the process of preparing for the ML, it would have been good to find advice on some of the little problems I encountered. I’ve put together a kit list of the things I actually packed. I took both an expedition rucksack (55-65L) and a large kit bag to leave at the base. I managed to keep my expedition kit to less than 12kg but that’s without food or water. In the next instalment I will review my choices of kit and identify what to shed for next time and/or what I was missing.
Clothing: walking boots; 2 base layers; 3 t-shirts; Buffalo jacket; waterproof jacket and pants; fleece; body warmer; spare walking trousers; underwear; socks; thermals; hat; waterproof gloves; Buff; some casual clothes and Inov-8 trail shoes.
Expedition kit: rucksack; tent; sleeping bag with liner; therma-rest; stove and fuel; pan with lid; spork; knife; chopping board; hydro pack; head torch (plus spare); extra batteries; portable charger
General kit: maps; compass; GPS; watch; first aid kit; storm shelter; walking poles; sunglasses; field ID cards; note book; pencil; helmet; multi-mat.
I hope this is in some way useful or at least interesting. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to ask anything via firstname.lastname@example.org or through the web page.