Mountain Leader Training

During the week of 25 – 31 August, three members of staff travelled to Llanrwst in Snowdonia for their Mountain Leader (Summer) Training course.

With vast amounts of luggage in tow, Plt Off Holly Brogden-Knight, ASgt Michelle Cheah and CI Dan Goldman managed to get on the right train from Euston heading north, and even got seats in First Class! Eventually we arrived in Betws-Y-Coed after a few tight interchanges, and having refuelled with a chippy checked in at the Joint School for Adventurous Training Instructors (JSATI), Llanrwst. Following an initial brief we had the rest of the day free to get to know the other members of our course.

Training started on Sunday (whatever happened to the sabbath??); we met our instructor POPT Matthews and proceeded with introductions and lectures, and dived straight into a session of micro-nav around the Capel Pinnacles.

Throughout the week we had classroom based lessons covering subjects such as climate and weather, as well as a lot of outdoors, hands-on experience. We had a day learning about security on steep ground, practicing rope work at Nant Peris. For our mountain day we climbed the Glyderau in typically poor visibility and came down through Devil’s Kitchen. Once off the mountain, my group attempted the Cheese Press, which involved climbing sideways and up through a gap roughly 8 inches wide between two huge slabs of rock. Being petite, myself and Holly managed it, but Tony, a larger member in our group was unable to squeeze through, hard as he tried.

The next two days were our expedition, with an overnight wild camp. These two days were challenging mentally and physically, as we had to constantly concentrate on navigation which was wholly cross-country. Our first day was spent traipsing through marsh and trying to avoid falling into bogs. It was a relief to finally pitch our tents and turn in after a hot dinner, but that relative pleasure did not last long as we had to be up again in the middle of the night to practice night navigation. Now, the weather had been lovely the whole day, but in the night, the rain was coming in sideways. It was a valuable experience, where we learnt to trust and rely on pacings and bearings in appalling visibility.

The next morning brought more micro nav and an instructor change. Still in poor weather conditions, we had another mountain to climb yet. But this time we were using the path, phew. We had a comparatively short day that day as there was a, umm, slight geographical dispute on top of the mountain which led to an unconventional descent. Nevertheless, we made it to the all-important cafe in Capel Curig where we were picked up to be brought back to the centre for the luxury of a hot shower!

Our last day was spent going over emergency procedures and river crossings. Once finished, we had a debrief and were all told we’d passed and earned ourselves a little green sticker in our logbooks, hurrah!

The week went by in a flash, now all we need to do in order to become fully-fledged ML(S) is to keep current with the rope work and get in another 40 Quality Mountain Days; optimistically we should be ready for assessment back at Llanrwst within a year.

The photo shows the group having a rest stop towards the end of the first day of the exped, with the peak of Snowdon in the background.