Some of you may be aware that Mrs BB and I have been living at opposite ends of the country. Things have been strained for some time and, over the last few days, we have decided to end things. This is very saddening but I am trying to find a positive.
I already hold the BELA award which I use for running walks with the school I teach at. As I will now have more time, and need a new focus, I intend to work towards my Summer ML award. This will improve my competence and confidence when running walks with the kids and is something I've always dreamed of achieving.
I'm hoping to book a 6 day course at PYB around August time and go from there.
Has anyone got any tips for things to think about in the meantime? Once we're allowed back out I'm going on a walking / hill running tear so if anyone fancies coming along then you can as long as you bring Jelly babies.
- You may find the JB Mountain Skills videos useful.
- Get to as many UK mountain areas for 'quality mountain days' as you can to broaden experience, you can still take your rock shoes for a bit of sneaky bouldering but may wish to leave the mat behind.
- Navigation, navigation and navigation ( including night nav. )
- Pick up knowledge of mountain areas that interest you such as history, myths and legends, key flora and fauna, environmental and conservation issues, geology, weather.
Thanks Mark, that's really helpful. Night Nav is definitely an area that I need to improve.
I'll check out the JB Mountain skills vids.
Thanks v much for the mention Mark!
Here's the channel link: http://www.youtube.com/c/JBMountainSkills
We are ML providers so anything ML related is accurate to the scheme!
Record your days on a garmin or phone this makes recording your D log a lot easier as you can up load the file.
Have some fun exploring 😀
I hadn't made the connection it was your channel. I've had a quick look at some of the fab videos. Really clear and professional.
As most have said try and do lots of nav work. If heading out with a partner, get them to pick lots of random points on the map for you to find. Maybe check your pacing(s) and timings as this will help with the night nav, I found the night nav easier, probably because you don't have any visual distractions.
Trying to find the blue grid crosses on the ground is a good one
Find the blue cross sounds like a great game! Love it. A good one for Dartmoor area. Cheers!
Navigation. Navigation and more navigation.
Not just your normal hill walking stuff, home to summit and find your way off and back to the car sort of thing, but try navigating to the smallest, most obscure point on a map and then go and find it in the dark. Get someone you know to pick something really difficult to find.
Or get someone to go for a walk with you over open moorland without you knowing the route they are taking. At any given time check your map with theirs - and see whether you agree!
I never got round to taking my ML assesment, but I did the training with PYB about 10 years ago and thought it was an excellent course. A good friend of mine is an MIA and he reckons that if you can do night nav on Dartmoor you can navigate anywhere.
Joining the Mountain Training Association isn't a bad idea, I think you may have to do it post training, whole host of discount for members on kit but also a plethora of additional training videos on a multitude of topics from Flora and Fauna, Rocks, Nav, Weather .... yeah loads more, just can't think of them all! Lots of workshops running as well.
The Steve Long Book, Hillwalking....
Second the Jez videos as well to be fair, some of the rope work MCI stuff he did brought the Libby Peter book to life so hats off. Kit reviews are honest as well which is key!
Not sure what the opinion is of the providers, but I record everything! Local footpath walks, even lowland leader type terrain, get it logged as someone said above on a Garmin or similar, (you'll need a gpx file) it shows your wide range of experience.
Most importantly, enjoy it! It may just be a piece of paper, but the journey to getting it will be what sticks with you forever and the adventures en route.
Any work you do now will probably come in useful later, but the training course is just that. Don't worry about doing lots of work to be a certain standard for it, if you meet all the prerequsites (properly, not just scraping through on paper) or have a decent grasp of hillcraft in general it will just be an interesting holiday. Just be prepared to absorb all that is thrown at you on the course, listen to what the instructors have to say, and enjoy the week on the mountains.
The assesment is a bit more involved, but you will then have a clearer idea of what that involves, and how to get there.
Sorry to hear about you and Mrs BB and good luck with the Summer ML.
I'll second other commenters recommendation for doing the training.
It covers the subject matter and what they are looking for and how they assess it and to what standard.
It might sound a lot of money (I did mine and the assessment at PYB)
I thought my navigation was fine. And my ropework too. I'm quite sure I'd have failed if I had not done the training previously.
> If heading out with a partner, get them to pick lots of random points on the map for you to find.
This. Wee features like the head of reentrants, individual boulders, ring contours that sort of thing. And know what your pacing is for 100m on flat, gentle slope and steep slope up and down.
Sorry to hear about you and your Mrs. The same thing happened to me 1½ years ago; our daughter was then 14 months old. I've never been as gutted in my life, but believe me: things work out. I made a mental list of everything I could now do that I couldn't have done before due to family considerations, and did them. I now see my beloved daughter 4 days a week and am climbing better and am way happier and freer than I was in the last 12 years. No practical advice, just: go for it, and good luck!
Sorry to hear about your circumstances but good for you for starting something new and worthwhile. You won’t regret doing ML. I would recommend registering with MTA straightaway (you can do it before going on a course). You can start logging your walks (I logged walks I’d done years ago, it’s all good experience) and I t will give you access to online resources, gear shop discounts and a supportive community with local groups for meet-ups. Have fun!
I’ll echo the great advice given above, and suggest a couple of other things. You mentioned PyB in your original post, I work there, and on their ML courses, so maybe I’ll meet you this summer!
Everyone arrives on their ML from a different starting point and experience base, so I don’t think saying anything too specific will be helpful.
As has already been mentioned, navigation plays a significant role in the course. Being comfortable with the map’s symbols, contour shapes and basic compass skills is an ideal starting place, it’s then easier for us to introduce more advanced skills and to discuss things like navigational strategies. Having an understanding of pacing and timing is useful as well, but again, it’s something that’s covered in detail throughout the week.
Having watched folk over the years on these courses, I’d say the thing that most find the trickiest is switching their thinking from looking after themselves to a group. This can start from the very outset; choosing a suitable walk for whoever you’re with and the weather conditions, through to managing the pace and route finding in steep ground - the onus becomes what’s best for your team, rather then what you’d most like to do! If there’s any chance of going walking with someone who’s less experienced, who need you to look after them, I’d say that’s the perfect preparation, as it’ll focus your mind on what a Mountain Leader does. (Covid guidance allowing...)
Lastly, I’d say, as long as you feel comfortable in the hills for yourself, in that you’ve blown any lockdown cobwebs off, then do remember it’s a training course - come expecting to have a great week, with lots of idea sharing and learning, as that’s what it’s all about. This is the atmosphere that all ML providers will go for - we ideally want people to turn up with recent experience, but there’s no assumption that you know everything in the syllabus, or are a Jedi navigator already. If someone’s at that point, then happy days, but it’s not expected - it’s a training course! Have a blast.
I’m working my way through my winter ML QMD’s, I’ve had more than enough days in the winter hills over the years but promised myself I would get 20 current days in. Obviously covid has but a big dint in that idea 😏. The idea my focus would be different
it is definitely worth going out with other people and make the route planning and navigation part of the exercise, I’ve had a few winter days out in the hills with my kids so getting your “ML” head on goes with the territory as far as route planning, what you pack, what they pack etc. And trying to impart a bit of information on the way (teens are good for honing that skill 😏 is always good.
Also lots of time reading the terrain, how do the features marked on the map relate to the actual features your looking at, once this clicks map reading and nav become a lot easier and intuitive.
I can echo all the comments above re: preparation, practice and training. I did my Summer ML training at PYB back in 2002 and it was one of the best courses ever. Actually it started a lengthy process of spending money at PYB doing professional courses. However, I can honestly say that it was well worth the money. I can still remember some elements of the ML course now- navigation with Neil Johnson the steep group work day with Stu Mcaleese and the expedition with Steve Long. Classic.
I can also remember us running up the N ridge of Tryfan one evening after supper to watch the sunset, just for fun. Good times.
Lots of good comments above- re nav one good bit of advice I had was at some point you may be unsure about your exact position - so have a plan for that- If we do X will confirm our location..
I really enjoyed doing the ML - improved my mountain skills & was lots of fun-
Totally selfish present to my self when I did it.
Have since spent 15+ years using it to help train youngsters to hike, camp etc as a volunteer.
Best selfish thing I ever did.
sorry to hear about domestic arrangements.
lots of good advice here already, i'd add a few bits
1) get to grips with dlog (it sucks) but will help the process and record keeping
2) try to get out with groups with different levels of experience (beginners to fellmasters)
3) don't over think the rope work, KISS but slick
err thats all for now...
> Sorry to hear about your circumstances but good for you for starting something new and worthwhile. You won’t regret doing ML. I would recommend registering with MTA straightaway (you can do it before going on a course). You can start logging your walks (I logged walks I’d done years ago, it’s all good experience) and I t will give you access to online resources, gear shop discounts and a supportive community with local groups for meet-ups. Have fun!
Thanks for this information. I will sign up tomorrow!
> sorry to hear about domestic arrangements.
> lots of good advice here already, i'd add a few bits
> 1) get to grips with dlog (it sucks) but will help the process and record keeping
Yes. I hope to put some time into this and get my head round it soon.
> 2) try to get out with groups with different levels of experience (beginners to fellmasters)
Very good advice. Thanks. I've had some lovely offers from this thread already
> 3) don't over think the rope work, KISS but slick
Overthink things? Me? Never! Oh, actually. This is probably a really good thing for me to have in the back of my mind. I do love to over rig things.
> err thats all for now...
Thank you very much for your reply Will. It is is very reassuring. Hope to see you in the Summer!
> Overthink things? Me? Never! Oh, actually. This is probably a really good thing for me to have in the back of my mind. I do love to over rig things.
BTW looking at your profile maybe body belaying isn't in your repertoire (sport+bouldering). If not get it totally dialled. As im so old it's how i learnt to belay when TRing, it feels very natural. As well as Jez's excellent videos theres are good ones from Leading Edge on Youtube but make sure you focus on the ML ones not the more advanced ropework (which is totally out of scope for ML - but are excellent videos - two great channels from lockdown)
The body belay is certainly something I will need to get my head around (and hopefully not get around my head). Thanks for the advice
> The body belay is certainly something I will need to get my head around (and hopefully not get around my head).
I can't imagine you'd ever be body-belaying a client after you'd both managed to drop all belay devices and HMS carabiners (learn the Italian hitch method, it's the easiest and most flexible for multipitch!). Nevertheless - I hold the body belay in high regard; my partner caught me on it on my first lead fall and my first attempted VS lead on Sin (VS 4c) at Stoney. He got burnt, but I lived!
then you'd be wrong ! the ML is a device free award, you are talking about MCI/MIA terrain.
the ML award is basically a rope only deal, not for planned use. That's why climbers often overthink it.
Of course after assessment carry a couple of slings + HMSs if you are comfy with it
Classic abseil. Start on a grassy slope and get steeper. Also get off the paths and explore all that Crow land. Route find your way to summits. Do not get your phone out on the Hill, but really know how to use it. Find any fixed orienteering courses in parks etc. Practise pacing a lot. Establish a kilometre course for yourself and see if you can count without losing concentration.
I primarily did it so I could help at my children's' secondary school delivering gold D of E. Absolutely loved it.
A secondary reason was to assess my own mountain walking skills which I thought were excellent. Found out there was a lot to refresh, refine and learn that reinvigorated my own love of the mountains.
> Practise pacing a lot. Establish a kilometre course for yourself and see if you can count without losing concentration.
Initially, I measured a 100m length on the pavement and counted double paces. 53 became my gold standard on straightforward level ground. Then I went out on actual hills with different slopes and types of terrain - boggy, tussocky, rocky, steep, shallow etc. I eventually came up with 'fiddle factors' to still cover 100m as shown on the OS map. Basically, upping the double step count for going uphill and over rough stuff and reducing it for downhills. It's a while since I've had to do it for real as I tend to stay low if the weather is crap these days.
I was also encouraged to learn timing over distance as a way to estimate distances but I dismissed this in favour of pacing. For keeping count of 100m legs on a longer traverse I use those spring-loaded toggles - you know, the ones that keep your Ronhills up. I have five strung on my compass neck cord. Sometimes I use my fingers to keep count.
Record your trips, record your trips, record your trips.
Ropework for basic scramble type terrain.
53 for 100. Is that your running pacing? Most people are between 60/70, including kids.
It does seem to be a low number but I think there's a clue in his username!
> 53 for 100. Is that your running pacing? Most people are between 60/70, including kids.
Yep. 53 double paces is right on 100m for me walking on level, easy going. I'm 6'1" and my stride is fairly long (but not massive).