/ Friday 12th June - Q&A - Steve Long MLT

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UKC News - on 10 Jun 2009
[Steve Long, 4 kb]Steve Long from the Mountain Leader Training (MLT) is going live on the UKClimbing.com forums TODAY Friday (12th).



Steve will be on hand to answer questions about anything to do with instructing qualifications in the UK.


Steve is a qualified mountain guide and an extremely experienced instructor and climber, you could even pick his brains about climbing destinations!



Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=47804
Steve Long - on 11 Jun 2009
In reply to UKC News: My goodness, I've started early! Not like me... See you tomorrow.
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long: Is that the best photo you've got of me? I dyed my hair specially for today - needn't have bothered.

Right, now to business. Any questions?
In reply to UKC News: This Q&A is now live.
In reply to Steve Long: Hi Steve, good to have you on the forums.

I'd just like to point out this thread from the other day:

Topic - Instructing Grade Debate
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=358650

This was started by Dark Peak Paul and has some follow on questions from the last Q&A with Jon Garside and Andy Say (thanks guys!).

The cut and thrust of Dark Peak Paul's question was concerning the grade that you have to climb to pass some climbing qualifications. Should it be increased from VS, or even decreased?

As an MIA holder myself, and someone who wouldn't have been affected if the grade went up or down, as I had a few grades in hand, I have to say that my experience of working with my MIA award has shown me that I very rarely have to operate above the VS level and also shown me that there is a lot of MIA's who can operate much harder than that if needed.

So I don't think it really needs to change, although if there is a good reason then I'm not against it.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Thanks,

Jack
In reply to UKC News: New UKC Article on the MIA award:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=359261

Jack
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: Hello Jack, well, from a personal point of view I think that I'm in a very similar position to yourself, although I confess you have a couple more grades in hand (at the moment!)

This is a very complex issue though, as climbing has developed a lot since we increased the grade from V diff (in big boots) to VS (in "E.B.s"!) It's still true that the bulk of the work is at at technical level of VS and below, but the popularity and scope of sports climbing and climbing walls have also developed massively during this period as well.

This is why we are conducting a review survey of the MIA so that we can collect as much information as possible. It's not my job to pre-empt this, but one of the interesting possibilities for me about the idea of "bolt-on" coaching qualifications is that it offers possibilities for people who want to work more regularly with students wishing to develop further.
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long: Hello all, Mountain Leader Training is a complex organisation as I'm sure you'll all be aware! It consists of 4 autonomous home nation boards as well as the co-ordinating body for which I work. We decided to drop the UK bit of the title this year to make the structure a bit clearer. People often ask why there are so many Boards but of course it reflects the nature of the UK.

As Chief Officer my role is to manage the Mountaineering Instructor and the International Mountain Leader schemes. I'm also managing several big projects that include: a new title in our successful range of books, a review of the MIA scheme, the next edition of our "National Guidelines" document, the Mountain Leader Training Association (which I believe is our most important development of the last 20 years), the development of a clearer career pathway through the various qualifications - including the development of parallel coaching qualifications. I chair the UIAA training standards working group of the Mountaineering Commission, which receives applications from all around the world - this has been amazingly well received and seems to be growing from strength to strength.

As a team (i.e. MLT in partnership with the home nations staff) we are working hard on the development of the climbing wall leading award. Its always a difficult balance - its in nobody's interest to invent a plethora of awards, but on the other hand we need to keep in tune with a changing world, while defending the traditional values of "recreational climbers". I like to think I'm one of these as its what I do in my (increasingly rare!) spare time.
Jon Bracey - on 12 Jun 2009
Hi Steve,

As Sarah Stirling pointed out in her article 'The Mountain Instructor Award (MIA) qualifies you to take people multipitch climbing anywhere in the UK'. This is cearly the remit of the MIA award in black and white.
There are some holders of the MIA award that regularly work across europe, which I don't have issue with. However it is imperative that people are working within the laws of the different countries and have adequately civil liability insurance.
Take via ferrata in Italy which legally only IFMGA guides are allowed to work on.
I think the MLT have a role in ensuring holders of different the awards know exactly what they are qualified and insured to do.
Is there anything being done on this front?

thanks Jon Bracey
Andy Wardle - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long: Morning Steve,

I wonder if you could expand on your previous post regarding the need for 3 different training boards (and then an additional body to oversee them.) As someone who has worked through a number of schemes to MIA level, I still don't see the advantage of each home nation having its own board considering the obvious duplication of administrative costs and the additional confusion to the public.

Thanks, Andy.
Dark Peak Paul - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long:

Hi Steve,

Great to have you here and I imagine you will be in for a busy day. Thanks to Jack for pointing you at my thread and I would like to say there is also another thread running on the relative merit of the SPA which I think you should read.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=358741

I would like to say that I never intended the Grade Debate thread just to be about grades but to be a stalking horse on the subject climbing awards in general. Between the two threads, I think this aim was met.

So my questions for today are;

A, do you envisage adopting the BOS MPA to all the MLT boards, especially given MLTNI appear to endorse it? If not, how would you feel about MLTA members operating in the rest of the UK with the award, having taken it in Ireland?

B, could you foresee the emergence of a Climbing Instructors Award, within its remit every bit as rigorous as the MIA but with a reduced scope of operation i.e. undertaking MIA remit activities only at venues within the remit of the SPA/MPA?

Regards, Paul
summo on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long:> This is why we are conducting a review survey of the MIA so that we can collect as much information as possible. It's not my job to pre-empt this, but one of the interesting possibilities for me about the idea of "bolt-on" coaching qualifications is that it offers possibilities for people who want to work more regularly with students wishing to develop further.

Would it not be better to add the coaching module in between training and assessment? The MIA is generally considered to be the bench mark professional qualification in the outdoor world, yet consists of just 2 1/2 weeks training and assessment, all the experience and learning is done under your own steam, with an assessment that is quite varied and rigorous, but still only 4 1/2 days. Whether this means that an aspirant has to shadow a course provider working on ML and SPA training or assessments, to broaden their experience prior to assessment. Greater use of the ML assessors workshop?

The acedmeic adult education world is very qualification driven, but there are benefits to have some teaching / instructor training, this would help MIAs deliver the non practical elements of syllabus more effectively.
timjones - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long:
> (In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC) Hello Jack, well, from a personal point of view I think that I'm in a very similar position to yourself, although I confess you have a couple more grades in hand (at the moment!)
>
> This is a very complex issue though, as climbing has developed a lot since we increased the grade from V diff (in big boots) to VS (in "E.B.s"!) It's still true that the bulk of the work is at at technical level of VS and below, but the popularity and scope of sports climbing and climbing walls have also developed massively during this period as well.
>
> This is why we are conducting a review survey of the MIA so that we can collect as much information as possible. It's not my job to pre-empt this, but one of the interesting possibilities for me about the idea of "bolt-on" coaching qualifications is that it offers possibilities for people who want to work more regularly with students wishing to develop further.

Having studied the syllabus of the MIA it seems to me that there's a simple answer for those of us who wish to develop further into climbing instruction.

In simple terms the problem many volunteer climbing instructors have is down to the fact that the MIA covers the delivery and assessment of the ML(S) award. As volunteers we often need to specialise and can't aim to cover both walking and climbing. The MIA could be slimmed down by taking out the instruction of navigation, removing the bits on assessing ML(S) and removing the requirement to hold ML(S)before taking an MIA. Leaving in the requirement to "navigate with speed and efficiency in all conditions" would ensure that these instructors had the ability to get clients to and from any UK crag safely.

This should leave climbing instructors of the same calibre as MIAs in the climbing areas of the award. In essence it's an MIA with a restriction on it. We don't want to dumb down the climbing elements of the award but sadly volunteers don't all have the time to log the walking experince that is currently required and to keep it current after completing the award.

akhughes - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long: Hi steve, I think from all the latest debates and questions, the general climbing public are not so clear any more what they are getting or what awards cover what exactly. This has been highlighted recently by the introduction of the Mountain Instructor Community.

The issue of grades at assessment is probably highlighted in winter in guiding situations when clients regulaly want to climb grade 4 and up on places like the Ben.

Jon makes a very good point about the borders of which we can work in not being super clear. I know there are some things we can do. Via ferreta is one, but there are restrictions and processes we need to go through with local bodies/councils before we can work etc. Are these issues that will be addresses and made clearer in the future or even on training courses if appropriate.

Adam
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Jon Bracey: Hi Jon, I thought you were still in Alaska! congratulations, by the way. I'm working on a reply but it will take a few minutes because, as you know, this is a complex issue.
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Jon Bracey: Sarah is correct in her statement, but actually we changed the wording in the syllabus to remove the suggested implication that MIA's are only qualified to work in the UK, after a meeting between BMG, AMI and MLT chaired by Mark Diggins.

You are absolutely correct in your statement as well. The bottom line is that the student/client has the right to expect their instructor to be operating legally, and with full and explicit insurance cover. It is much harder for the public to know the legal complexities of where people can and can't work. It's further complicated by the fact that in many countries (including the UK) there is no legal requirement to hold any qualification at all, so an impressive website and impressive climbing CV may be the only formal qualifications that an instructor holds. The Health and Safety Executive recognises that competence is the only real qualification so “bits of paper” are just one way of demonstrating this.

Legality and comprehensive insurance are qualities that any member of the International Federation of Mountain Guides (IFMGA) can demonstrate, through their possession of a current carnet (date stamped card) which is legally enforced. Members of the British Association of International Mountain Leaders (BAIML) also hold annual carnets which require ongoing development, enforced commitment to professional standards and insurance, but there may be some countries or districts that do not recognise the qualification.

For the MIA it’s a little more complicated. Mountain Leader Training is more like an examinations Board, or even a University if you like. So imagine somebody who holds a degree in law. The University does not dictate how that qualification is used, nor does it have the right to take it away. This is where professional bodies come in – these can enforce standards and make requirements for continued membership.

In the UK we don’t have a professional body for mountaineering instructors. The Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI) is a representative body, and a relatively high percentage of award holders are members, and thus have signed up to AMI’s membership requirements. AMI operates increasingly like a professional body but it has not chosen to set itself up as a formal profession.

For MLT the way ahead is to work closely with our international partners and professional bodies such as the IFMGA and BAIML to build trust and mutual understanding as well as finding more effective ways to educate the public – this live q and A is one such way. As chair of the UIAA training standards committee I have been building international co-operation for voluntary workers and this has also been recognised increasingly by organisations whose members work for financial reward as well. There is definitely scope for AMI to offer a full carnet-based professional membership status, but whether they choose to go down that route is up to the membership.

I’ll post this up for now, I’m sure other people will wish to comment!
Dark Peak Paul - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long:

Steve, with respect to the statement 'There is definitely scope for AMI to offer a full carnet-based professional membership status, but whether they choose to go down that route is up to the membership.'

Briefly, what are the pros and cons. On the face of it, it looks like a good thing for someone who makes a living as an MIA?

Cheers, Paul
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Andy Wardle: Actually its four (Northern Ireland as well). As you can well imagine we are fully aware of this but there are many issues such as dealing with devolved government, National Councils, representation and funding that lead the home nation boards to retain complete autonomy. Yes it would be cheaper and simpler if it was just one organisation, but the UK is a very complex cluster of nations and believe me, we have worked miracles to achieve such a successful working relationship as we now enjoy. However I would be lying if I said I find my job easy!
summo on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long:." There is definitely scope for AMI to offer a full carnet-based professional membership status, but whether they choose to go down that route is up to the membership."

With the membership fees climbing, I suspect that is what most people would like. ie. get more for their money.
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Dark Peak Paul: Cost and commitment. There's no legal requirement to be a member of a professional body in the UK, so a lot of MIA/MIC holders could choose not to join. It would make a big difference to instructors who wish to work overseas - in my opinion French recognition (for example) is a non-starter without this. ON the other hand, some people who have chosen not to join AMI might well sign up if a full "professional" level was offered.

However these are big questions, and as I have said elsewhere, my job is to manage the awards, not the award holders.

Perhaps we should ask AMI to do a live question and answer next?
mal creasey - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Andy Wardle:
Hi Andy, Mal Creasey here just helping Steve out a little as the post are coming thick and fast. The position we have at the moment with 4 home nation Boards and an 'umberella' body to overseee the higher awards is something that has evolved over many years. If we go back in history a little the MLTB was formed in 1964 and the MLTBs job was to inugurate and manage the original Mountain Leadership Certificate or MLC. Shortly after this the SMLTB was formed to do a similar job in Scotland, the only difference was that they had a summer and winter scheme which was apprpriate at the time and still is. In 1979 MLTBW had it's inuagural meeting in Builth Wells (yours truly was commandeered to be present) and the driving force behind MLTBW was non other than the late John Jackson former head of PYB and then Director of what was to become Plas Menai.

Throughout the seventies and eighties there were lots of changes, starting with the Hunt Report (1975) and those changes are still going on today. Originally all the training boards had their own syllabus, handbooks and traininig and assessment centres. These were eventually 'harmonised so that all the Boards were operating from the same syllabus and we had a situation were someone could register with one Board, take the training course with another and finally be assessed by the third, the only thing that didn't change was the Scots 'ownership' of the Winter ML.

In 2002 all the Boards changed their name in an attempt to lessen the confusion so the MLTB became MLTE, SMLTB became MLTS and MLTW and MLTNI also fell into line. These bodies administer all the basic awards in their own country and as a result are currently able to access funding to help administer the Home Nation Awards, That is the ML, SPA, WGL and the CWA.

During the late eighties the MIC as it was was becoming more and more 'dated' as folk who were in many ways excellent instructors simply could not get the winter experience in so the MIA was born approximatly the same time as the SPA. Administering this new higher award it seemed likme a good idea at the time to have an 'umberella' representing all home Nation Boards, originally UKMTB, MLTUK, now abriviated to (never could spell) to MLT. So, it hass been a time over evoloution (not revolution) over the last 40 years and so may it continue but this is where we are at the moment.

Apologies for the history lesson but I believe that to understand the past can give you an insight to the future...

Mal
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to akhughes: Hi Adam, these issues are included in the review questionnaire which is pretty close to being ready to go live.

One simple answer would be to bring the MIA/C to the same technical level as the Guides. However, its only simple if you climb at those levels and if that is the main level at which award holders operate. However, this is not how we perceive things; even Jack started this discussion by saying that he generally works at VS and below (although I would think UKC must take up quite a bit of his time now!)

One thing I can guarantee is that I have never, and will never, let inertia drive the decision-making. We don't change for the sake of it, but we must reflect the needs of the climbing community now, not what it was in the previous century. So if the need for changes are highlighted we will bring them in.
Dark Peak Paul - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long:

Steve, I think having the AMI represent themselves on this forum would be a good idea although finding one that speaks for them all could be tricky!
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Dark Peak Paul: Hi Paul, it's not my place to foresee anything - my role is more like an independent chair. However it is clear that the spotlight is on the walking component of the MIA and I am definitely open to exploring a more direct qualications pathway for people who just want to teach climbing. I've been doing a lot of work with the American Mountain Guides Association through the UIAA and it seems to me that they have been able to take many of the best bits of our schemes (one of their training committee is an ex-pat with UK qualifications) and create a very logical pathway. However, even there it is far from simple - there are many other organisations out there and I would say the US public is actually even more confused about things. Over here the Mountain Leader Training Boards have been very successful at building fantastic links with National Councils, voluntary organisations, employers, government etc.

The downside of all this is that we have to convince a lot more organisations before we can implement changes. The upside is that we don't rush into things that we later regret.

I can't really comment much about the BOS multi pitch qualification. It seems to work over there, but is only a handful of award holders. It's not a national qualification (i.e. UK wide) as we don't recognise it, nor have we been asked to. The technical standard is Severe, so it seems to me that the operating terrain is more likely to need mountaineering skills rather than technical climbing skills, so it’s hard to see which bits of the ML syllabus you can safely leave out. That's the stumbling block for me; whenever I look at the syllabus and try to find bits that are not required to teach multi-pitch climbing, there aren’t many bits of the ML syllabus that can be safely left out. Camping and river crossings I guess. The other way would be to limit the crags to roadside – even crags within sight of the road could present navigation problems if the weather changes and suddenly they are no longer within sight of anything.

We are definitely open to ideas on this one though, and will feed them into our review.
mal creasey - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to timjones: Hi Tim. I've come in a little late on this one but it does appear that this subject does keep cropping up. When the SPSA (as it was)was set there was an enourmous range in what folk wanted to be the remit of the award, in other words where you could and couldn't operate safetly as an SPA. As one of the original Providers and being privy to the discussion preceding the launch of the SPA I think that award took a little while for the syllabus to become established, mainly due to the range of expectations, venues, rock types, course directors, providers and the idiosyncrasies of climbers in general.

If there is scope for a Rock Climbing Instructor, there is going to have to be an enourmous amount of work involved to decide what the remit should be and I can already see a range of expectations, needs, wants etc. I even heard said quote hey it would be great to have the ability to work on Cloggy, hell, no, sorry, thats the remit of the MIA / MIC 'cos your on a mountain....

Mal
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to summo: sorry about the delay, questions have been coming in thick and fast, and also my phone keeps ringing!

I personally believe that a formal mentorship is the biggest thing missing from our schemes - it's definitely the biggest strength of the Guides' scheme. (our referee requirement attempts to go some way to address this)

Our underlying vision for the coaching is that it should be independent of where you are on the existing qualifications pathway, so you could start on the coaching quals at any stage in your development. However, you would only be (nationally) qualified to deliver coaching on multi-pitch crags, for example, once you had passed the MIA or BMG, and in winter with MIC/Guide. Some people might choose do the coaching qualification but only do a local accredition for the "safety specific" side of things. This would be acceptable but they couldn't claim to have a national qualification to coach. These are still very early days though, so my personal ideas on this at this moment in time are virtually insignificant.
summo on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long:
> (In reply to summo) >". Some people might choose do the coaching qualification but only do a local accredition for the "safety specific" side of things. This would be acceptable but they couldn't claim to have a national qualification to coach. These are still very early days though, so my personal ideas on this at this moment in time are virtually insignificant."

I think this has potential, similar to Local Cave Leader, where you will be physically assessed at leading a group at the location. It could meet the needs of many organisations.

Some people may moan about how do you find the time to spend say 7/14/30 days in the company of person who is fully qualified, but I think it is the way ahead and will produce some much more rounded MIA/MICs and probably increase the chances of individuals passing first time.


Andy Wardle - on 12 Jun 2009
Mal and Steve,

Thanks for the replies and the history. It just appears to me that this is one area that is massively overcomplicated and confusing to all (award holders included).

It seems that although we are all in one small country (the UK !- I hope this does not start another debate), we now have a number of different boards administering exactly the same awards. Particularly confusing examples are: the English board being collocated in Wales with the Welsh board and the UK 'umbrella' board, the home nation boards only administering the 'basic' awards and the need to register with the Scottish board for the winter ML despite individuals home locations.

I appreciate how the system has developed as the awards were introduced and hope that further developments will occur overtime. I have no idea on the external funding benefits of separate boards but would be surprised if these weren't still available to 1 truly national board and any reductions weren't cancelled by the reduction in overlapping administrative costs.

I hope I don't appear to have an axe to grind but as I (the customer) have progressed through your awards, I have had to register with 3 different boards (at a reasonable cost) for no discernible advantage to me. Anyway to simplify the system could only serve to aid the general understanding of superb and credible qualifications.

Cheers, Andy.
Dark Peak Paul - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to mal creasey:

OK Mal, let me field an idea. I’m digging a hole here but at least it will give me somewhere to hide from the angry mob.

Currently our green and pleasant can be divided into three categories for the purpose of conducting parties through it. Those are, anybody with group management skills, anybody with at least the WGL and ML and above only. Crags, due to their relative objective dangers fall into minimum SPA/(MPA if adopted) or minimum MIA.

We’ll call the areas C,B,A and the crags class 2 and 1. Therefore, Stanage gets C2 (being fully within the current SPA remit), Upper Tor on Kinder B2 (being remote but accessible by path and otherwise SPA like), Cloggy A1 etc. Then, all it takes is for the geographically diverse members of the AMI to populate a new field on the RAD with a group category (there is already group advice).

As for the new (notional) climbing instructor, he can do anything he likes on a class 2 crag and go to any crag within the terrain remit of any award he may hold. So a SPA/ML could top-rope ABC class 2 and a CIA with no other award could teach leading on C2 etc.

I shall now hide…..
Jon Bracey - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long:
Thanks for your honest and thorough answer to my question.
I think its about time AMI moved forward and made a better job at representing its members.
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Andy Wardle: Andy, I will pass your comments on to our Chair. Suffice it to say that my job is to manage a move towards a more cohesive brand, where the public deal directly with MLT and behind the scenes the information gets disseminated to the various home nations to deal with it. That's why its been called MLT - let's face it, its really the Mountain Leader Training Board and would be called that if the name hadn't previously belonged to MLTE.

Financial contribution from the home nation boards towards communally shared services is very much at the heart of the strategic plan that I've drafted; I think this is the most pragmatic solution to achieving some sort of line management structure that enables me to manage projects for which I'm responsible. I can't see the home nation boards ever changing to advisory bodies only.

As you have pointed out, the awards have been very successful and we shouldn't let any frustrations about UK politics undermine this. The staff work together pretty effectively, and we have built and retained a good reputation both at home and abroad for the standard of our qualifications system. The structure may appear weird and arcane but it does work, and its all too easy to damage this in the attempt to produce something that looks saner (but might not actually work!)
Andy Wardle - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long: Thanks again for a detailed reply. Good luck - I don't envy your coordinating role.
Jamie Simpson on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to UKC News:

Hi,

Would the MLT accept a Norwegian mountain first aid course when applying for MIA registration?

It covers the same details as the brit first aid courses but the documentation is in Norwegian.

ttfn

Jamie
on a boat off norway :)
Gus Mayor - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to UKC News:

Q: Becoming an MIA?

I have over 50 multi-pitch routes under my belt but some are on ice, some are sport (from abroad) and some are under VS 4c even though I have done harder climbs since.

Can I still register for the MIA scheme and get the training as long as I have all the requirments before my asssessment??

Also, what did you think of my CV :)
mal creasey - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Andy Wardle: Hi Andy. We hear what you are saying and do realise that there is some confusion out there with different names etc. In delivering my history lesson earlier I was trying to convey how far we have progressed, however I think evolution, not revolution is they key. we have always been a reactive organisation and we do listen to what you (as customers) are saying. We havn't got a perfect sytem by any means but it works and hopefully will work better in the future. I think what we are all agreed on is we currently have a structure of awards that are well respected both in this country and abroad. Things will move on and lets all work on improving what we already have, in content, delivery, and administration.

Cheers
Mal
mal creasey - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Dark Peak Paul: Hi Paul I'm all for you digging a hole but don't hide in in there, or even worse, fall in! I can understand where you are coming from (just) but our green and pleasant doesn't succomb to a black and white approach 'cos sometimes Upper Tor on Kinder might require an Winter ML to even find on a winters day and an MIC qualified to teach there if it was covered in snow.
Taking aside the supercilious answer do we really need to go down the road of classifying every crag in the country, just imaging the arguments especially if we consider our wonderful coastal fringes. Sorry Paul please come out of your hole but what you are suggesting, sorry mate, it just wouldn't work....

Cheers
Mal
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Andy Wardle: neither do I!
mal creasey - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Jamie Simpson: Hi Jamie. I hope the sea is not too rough! You probably get the official answer from Steve on this one fairly soon as he is just back from lunch. I would suggest you will need to get a translation though so that we have a clear indication of the course content and duration etc.

Happy sailing
Mal
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Gus Mayor: Hello Gus, I have to be very strict on time management in order to survive here, so I won't be looking at any CV's or event the list of applicants until after the closing dates, even though I'm itching to see what they look like! For anybody who is wondering what I'm talking about, see http://www.mltuk.org/docs/height-news.html for further details of jobs currently available at Siabod Cottage.

For MIA we only count multi-pitch trad rock climbs for the main application. The other experience is what helps broaden your repertoire on the hill, but we have to focus on the pre-requisites when processing registrations. We require a minimum of 30 multi-pitch routes at VS 4c or abov, from at least 3 main climbing areas in the UK. So from your enquiry its possible that you have the pre-requisites within the total of 50 but I can't tell without seeing them listed. The good news is that I never reject applications out of hand, I always give 6 month's grace to get sort out any missing requirements.

There is no doubt that quantity of experience is a big factor in how well people do at assessment, but (much more importantly) how effectively they operate "on the hill" in general. Linked to that of course is quality (i.e. surviving a full-on epic on Cloggy or Carnmore is really valuable but I wouldn't recommend trying to get one!) and also quality reflection - it's possible to do quite a lot of walking and climbing without learning very much at all. Always question what you do and reflect on whether there is a way to do it better.
Dark Peak Paul - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to mal creasey:

Well Mal,

I sort of take your point but I was being deliberately provocative. Presumably the BOS MPA presumes that the holders of the award can make the distinction between an appropriate venue and one that isn’t. So, somewhere in there is an intrinsic crag classification beyond ‘described as a single pitch in the guide book’.

Also, on a post with regard to the SPA, I asked Andy Say if I could operate within the remit of the SPA, at a crag such as Upper Tor, within every respect except the navigational one on the grounds that I also held the ML. His reply in essence was that the principal was there within the HSE guidelines and that would be a case by case judgment call.

Obviously, I wouldn’t do this under winter conditions; it’s not within the remit of either the SPA or ML and therefore a clearly defined judgement call.

So, perhaps we couldn’t classify all crags. However, the MIA registration process does provide guidance on the sort of crags one should put on an application and gives examples, for clarity, on climbs that do and don’t meet that criteria.

Therefore, surely a precedent exists for the principals of both defining the objective demands of a particular venue at different levels and of explicitly encouraging operating within the remit of combined awards?

p.s. Glad to hear about the 6 months grace, £70 is a new pair of rock shoes!
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to mal creasey: Malcolm is right, I can't read Norweigen. We don't police first aid qualifications: we offer advice on the minimum content of courses, and for more remote working locations there will be need for more than this. I've posted a FAQ about the content of courses on http://www.mltuk.org/docs/height-news.html near the bottom of the page.

A brief note in English listing the syllabus, contact time and awarding body criteria (ie how do we know the first aid trainer is any good?) should be enough to satisfy the MIA assessment director.
Gus Mayor - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long:

Thanks- and I look forward to hearing about the posts!

Ash
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to timjones: Hi Tim, this is the sort of thing we will be looking at in the review. We already have agreed to pilot a split training course, but whether we can split the assessment is another matter, as I've explained elsewhere. However, we are not defensive about the status quo.

The MIA training no longer devotes much time to delivery of ML since assessor workshops have become much more widely available. The focus now is more on the underlying communication/coaching skills and processes. Taking the ML out would mean that a lot of additional skills would have to be trained and assessed during the MIA. Even navigation is an holistic combination of map/ground reading, route finding, decision making, risk assessments and communication (not necessarily in that order). It also requires regular practice in order to be able to pull it off when the weather closes in.

We aren't looking for reasons not to introduce solutions to this sort of issue, we just have to take into account the pros and cons. So rest assured we will be looking at this creatively, and your suggestions will be fed into the equation.

mal creasey - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Dark Peak Paul: Hi Paul
I sort of guessed you were doing a deliberate wind up but I aggree that award holders should have the ability to make clear judgement calls about wher they can operate, especially as it is they who should be in possession of all the fact regarding the client group, prevailing conditions and objectives of the day etc.

With regard to operating on Upper Tor as an ML/SPA i would see no problem with that given an appropriate client group and have decent weather. I also agree that giving some classic examples of the types of crag/routes that are suitable for you to gain experince before registering for one of the awards as they do for the MIA should help folk make informed decisions.

I hope you don't wear the new rock shoes out too quickly....and we are all generous in giving you guys a little grace to get the routes in having parted you from your hard earned cash.

Cheers
Mal
Steve Long - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long: While we are on the subject of developing qualifications, I am reasonably optimistic that we may be able to address the thorny issue of SPA's teaching lead climbing within the syllabus of the coaching qualifications: students will surely be leading within this remit, although "coaching" implies they can already lead and wish to progress. These are early days though, the whole issue of "coaching" still seems to remain controversial in some quarters.
Dark Peak Paul - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to mal creasey:

Thanks Mal,

I have in part my answer although your avoidane of the CIA concept was noted ;-)
Dark Peak Paul - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long:

Well, I suppose if students had been 'leading' on a slack back up rope for a while, you could 'coach' them through the added stress of removing it. Maybe?
timjones - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Steve Long:
> (In reply to timjones) Hi Tim, this is the sort of thing we will be looking at in the review. We already have agreed to pilot a split training course, but whether we can split the assessment is another matter, as I've explained elsewhere. However, we are not defensive about the status quo.
>
> The MIA training no longer devotes much time to delivery of ML since assessor workshops have become much more widely available. The focus now is more on the underlying communication/coaching skills and processes. Taking the ML out would mean that a lot of additional skills would have to be trained and assessed during the MIA. Even navigation is an holistic combination of map/ground reading, route finding, decision making, risk assessments and communication (not necessarily in that order). It also requires regular practice in order to be able to pull it off when the weather closes in.
>
> We aren't looking for reasons not to introduce solutions to this sort of issue, we just have to take into account the pros and cons. So rest assured we will be looking at this creatively, and your suggestions will be fed into the equation.

The distinction that I would make is that there's a big difference between operating as an ML (where teaching navigation is surely the vast majority of the work you will subsequently be undertaking) and instructing climbing on a crag where you need to get your clients to and from the crag safely but you don't need to be able to talk about it in that funny ML parlance. You just need to be able to demonstrate your competence at getting from A to B safely and efficiently. I'd happily put myself forward for a rigorous assessment of my navigational skills as part of an award, but I'm not Sure that it's efficient to spend time on a box ticking excercise by taking an ML and learning the subtle nuances of the difference between micro-nav and macro-nav. They're nice trendy terms but it's really all about the simple act of getting from A to B in whatever conditions prevail.

mal creasey - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to Dark Peak Paul:

I have in part my answer although your avoidane of the CIA concept was noted ;-)

MMMmmmmm, is that something to do with a US Agency of some sort???

mal creasey - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to timjones: Hi Tim. steve has left the building now but I'm carrying on for a while. Operating as an ML may not involve vast amounts of teaching navigation, you just might be required to have the skills to navigate rather than teach, it really depends what position you occupy. Getting a group to a crag (and back) safely maybe just part of you role in being a climbing instructor, however I'm not sure what you mean about talking about it in that 'funny ML parlance'. An ML assessment is all about getting from A to B safly and efficiently, because doing an ML covers all the other safety issues, hazards, weather, emergency procedures etc, etc. You might be very efficient at getting the group to the grag but what do you know about dealing with an emergency, access, conservation etc. the only way anyone can 'assess those is in some formal way. You might call it box ticking, it is, perhaps for a very goo dreason that nothing is left out. As to the subtle difference between Micro and Macro navigation, and I don't like this terminology myself incidently, it is simply saying that as a navigator you understand the pricipals of the bigger picture on a 1 ; 50,000 and the worst caser scenario on a 1 ; 25,000.

If you would happily put yourself through a rigorud assessment, I would happily do the assessing...

Cheers

Mal
collie dog on 12 Jun 2009 - host86-130-184-12.range86-130.btcentralplus.com
In reply to UKC News:

Hi Steve

I've just read the sarah stirling/mlt article on the MIA award.

"The main job of an MIA is to help clients become self-reliant climbers and mountaineers in summer conditions. You'll pass on experience and technique, while clients enjoy a challenging and enjoyable day out in a safe and relaxed setting."

where exactly are these safe and relaxed settings ?

sorry for putting you on the spot but I've seen this phrase a few times now and it seems a little incompatable with coaching climbing. Should the MLT be using them ?

It may just be true in a climbing wall but surely not on a crag. I've probably written (well plagurised !) too many risk assessment docs for school trips and become a little paranoid about phrases like this.

mal creasey - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to collie dog: Hi, Mal Creasey here, I'm afraid steve is out of the building now but I'm sure he'll pick this one up and get back to you when he can.

Cheers
Mal
mal creasey - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to UKC News:
Hi Folks, thanks to all who contributed and if anything else comes in, send it through to us. However I'll be out of the building in a few minutes so replies might by slow.
have a great weekend.....

Mal
timjones - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to mal creasey:
> (In reply to timjones) Hi Tim. steve has left the building now but I'm carrying on for a while. Operating as an ML may not involve vast amounts of teaching navigation, you just might be required to have the skills to navigate rather than teach, it really depends what position you occupy. Getting a group to a crag (and back) safely maybe just part of you role in being a climbing instructor, however I'm not sure what you mean about talking about it in that 'funny ML parlance'. An ML assessment is all about getting from A to B safly and efficiently, because doing an ML covers all the other safety issues, hazards, weather, emergency procedures etc, etc. You might be very efficient at getting the group to the grag but what do you know about dealing with an emergency, access, conservation etc. the only way anyone can 'assess those is in some formal way. You might call it box ticking, it is, perhaps for a very goo dreason that nothing is left out. As to the subtle difference between Micro and Macro navigation, and I don't like this terminology myself incidently, it is simply saying that as a navigator you understand the pricipals of the bigger picture on a 1 ; 50,000 and the worst caser scenario on a 1 ; 25,000.
>
> If you would happily put yourself through a rigorud assessment, I would happily do the assessing...

The funny ML parlance perception is largely down to a few too many ML holders wittering on heroically about their micro nav and then being totally unable to explain what it is or how it differs from macro nav. Your explanation is the only decent one I've ever heard and that includes a few PyB instructors that I've asked over the years.

AlH - on 12 Jun 2009
In reply to collie dog: My reading of this (possibly erroneous) is 'relatively safe and relaxed setting'. Relative to finding your way though the process entirely alone the MIA should be able to create/choose a more stable ('safer', not risk free) environment for a client to learn in. The client will be more 'relaxed' and able to focus on learning as the Instructor takes an over-arching responsibility for much of the risk assessment and judgement (hopefully without removing the chance for the client to learn for themself as opposed to being spoon fed).
Note (before anyone leaps to the conclusion that I feel hiring an instructor is the only way to go) I learnt most of my basic climbing skills myself so I do recognise the usefulness of people getting out there and discovering it for themself- but I also recognise that a bit of priming from a qualified source (and that might mean suitably experienced rather than an MIA/C/Guide) can go a long way when it comes to guiding that discovery.
collie dog on 13 Jun 2009 - host86-130-184-12.range86-130.btcentralplus.com
In reply to AlH: okay. but it doesn't say 'relatively'it says in 'a safe and relaxed setting' so not really open to interpretation. suppose we'll leave it at that.
Steve Long - on 14 Jun 2009
In reply to Dark Peak Paul: Hi Paul, I think this would be pushing semantics. Removing the slack top rope represents more than just psychological stress; it means you can get seriously hurt if you fall off.
Its more a matter of the depth and range of climbing experience required to teach leading. Its certainly a lot more than the minimum standard required to pass the SPA, so currently the only qualifications requiring sufficient experience to be ready to fully appreciate the issues around teaching leading are MIA/C and BMG. However, I would be the first to admit that the skills of navigation, upland camping, navigation etc are not directly relevant to teaching lead climbing. We can't keep creating new qualifications to fit every scenario though.... after the MIA review is finished I guess the most urgent review is the SPA. Perhaps the existence of the CWA now means we need to think very carefully about what is required for the SPA. One of the interesting things about my UIAA work is visiting countries that have had the luxury of designing their awards from scratch. The AMGA single pitch scheme in the USA, for example, includes teaching lead climbing....
Steve Long - on 14 Jun 2009
In reply to collie dog: Hi, sorry, I've not been able to reply until now. Well, Sarah doesn't work for MLT so I wouldn't say the MLT is using this phrase, I certainly didn't provide it. We never have, and never will, claim that climbing is safe. However, a qualified instructor has been trained and assessed in making risk assessments that allow a lot of the "subjective" hazards to be pre-empted and reduced to acceptable levels. Its entirely possible that a novice lead climber thinks they understand how runners work and what happens when a leader falls, but has the potential to discover (the hard way) that this confidence was misplaced.

The instructor or coach can help the climber feel more relaxed, and can offer reassurance that a runner fulfils various objective qualities required in order to field a fall... so in this respect the student is safer and can also provide a more efficient escape route if it all gets a bit much. However, I wouldn't use the phrase that you've pointed out, I suspect it was taken from somebody's advert.

I very much dislike adverts that claim that climbing is safe; it isn't. However, ignorance or misplace confidence is a lot more dangerous.

Society accepts risk in most aspects of life; people wouldn't make a big deal about whether going shopping is safe or dangerous, but there are an awful lot of things that can go terribly wrong on a shopping trip; however we have learned loads of skills that enable us to survive (our parents or guardians taught and coached us). A newby climber is faced by lots of factors that they aren't ready to risk assess reliably, as its all new to them. This is where the instructor can help.

I think its better to say that the climber learns to operate in a dangerous environment by developing systems that allow the hazards to be controlled to an acceptable level. One aspect of this is rope-work, but another - and actually more important skill set - is moving effectively over rock so that the risk of falling off is minimised.
Andy Say - on 15 Jun 2009
In reply to Andy Wardle:
A very, very late contribution (been out and about!).
Why does the BMC bother with area committees? Couldn't all the decision making and action be more effectively directed by a smaller, leaner organisation? In fact, why three mountaineering councils?
The way the Mountain Leader Training Boards currently work is a mirror of the BMC structure. The home nation boards include representatives of around 29 interested bodies (DofE, OEAP, AHOEC, MREW etc etc) They are the democratic base; a 'base' required by the Qualification and Curriculum Authority as a requirement for any 'approved' awarding body (but they call it 'industry representtion'). Each board DOES have its own make-up and particular concerns. I'm not particularly worked up about the translation of the ML syllabus into cymraig; Allen Fyffe probably doesn't give a fig for the demands of the QCA approval system.
Now. Get all of those people (about 85 I reckon) in one room and all progress grinds to a stop. Get all those people in four separate rooms mandating representatives to go to a central entity (hey - we're back to the BMC structure!) and progress moves on pretty efficiently.
As Mal's history lesson earlier in the thread demonstrates MLT actually invented devolution and showed the way to a laggardly government!

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