Mountain Leader Training

ICWO Mike Cross has just completed his Mountain Leader Training Course:

"The Mountain Leader Training course lasts six days and prepares candidates for their Mountain Leader assessment. Following the training course candidates must complete 20 Quality Mountain Days and gain a first aid qualification before presenting themselves for assessment. On passing the assessment they are qualified to take clients (the cadets!) into the mountainous regions of the United Kingdom.

The course was based at Llanwrst and is run by JSATI (Joint School for Adventurous Training Instructors). It’s a small unit with accommodation for about 40 personnel. There were several other courses running in parallel including a canoeing course and a PTI conversion course. Students ranged from Air Cadet staff to regular service personnel.

On arrival we were given a quick arrival brief and issued with kit and bedding. The unit has an impressive stores stocked with over £500,000 worth of high quality kit. Don’t think you need all the gear to complete this course. Following this we were free to socialise with the other students on the course.

The next day we met the instructors (a Petty Officer from the Royal Navy and Sergeant from the RAF). After a welcome brief and several lectures we spent a few hours on the hill refreshing our navigation skills.

The following three days were longer in length and focussed on micro and macro navigation as well as security on steep ground work. The reliable Welsh weather meant that every day rained and most of our time was spent in cloud. This actually worked to our advantage as it allowed us to refine our skills in more challenging conditions. One of the days involved using a rope to help people who become nervous on difficult ground and how to get a group down difficult ground in an emergency. It was a welcome break from two days spent wondering where you actually were!

The last two days of the course were the expedition. The plan was to spend the day navigating to our campsite, meet up with the other group and then navigate back down to the other group’s bus the following morning. Again the weather was poor and accurate navigation was essential to getting there on time. Wild horses walking towards you out of the cloud was certainly an interesting experience! We camped next to a small Glyn (lake) high in the mountains. We got up in night to practise navigating in the dark. This was new to me and certainly a very interesting experience.

The course ended with us practising river crossings. A great way to end the week as most people’s feet were soaked already. On return to unit we were given individual debriefs and given the shiny sticker that said we had passed the course.

All instructor cadets and above are eligible for the course providing:

• They have registered with MLTUK
• Are a member of the BMC
• Have walked 20 Quality Mountain Days

I enjoyed the course at Llanwrst and being taught at JSATI gave me an insight into how the military train their personnel in AT. The course is also run at the Air Cadet Centres at Llanbedr and Windemere. See myself or Fg Off Harvey (OIC Adv Trg) for more information".

The picture shows typical Snowdonia terrain