Mountain Journeys

ML refresher day


Complex terrain navigation

Last week we had the pleasure of running a refresher course for an aspiring Mountain Leader.
Emma had completed her official ML training course a few years previous, and felt that a day spent refreshing skills to be a good plan as preparation for assessment later in the year. We couldn't agree more.

After an indoor session covering: equipment choice; planning; preparation; weather; and syllabus, we took things onto the hill.
But only after considering the weather of course. And the weather last week was doing much weathering! We had winds high enough to blow us over (and they very nearly did)! So our route choice needed to be dynamic and flexible. It turned out to be even more flexible than we had planned for.

Parking at the Walna Scar road above Coniston, we opened car doors and nearly lost said doors to the wind!!! So it's a bit blowy. This is pretty perfect weather for a refresher day. We were both well equipped for it with plenty of layers.
Our first objective was to focus on steep ground around The Bell. Starting on the steep scree slopes at the base, we were able to look at all aspects of ML rope work. We then moved onto the upper scree slopes to practice movement over this type of terrain and consider how best to help if a walker was finding this difficult or unnerving. Coaching movement both up and down the slope being the first method before moving on to spotting and rope / sling deployment to a 'confidence roping' scenario. The slippery, loose, and wet rock proved perfect for this.

We then planned to ascend The Bell via a rock scramble. However, whilst standing at the base of the scramble and in the full force of the wind, we thought better of it, deeming the route too dangerous for the prevailing conditions. All very good Mountain Leader thought processes and decisions going on today.

After a short break back at the car, we switched into Navigation mode and spent the remainder of the afternoon and into the evening practicing various navigation skills and discussing strategies for poor weather / night navigation.
Arriving back to the car somewhere between 9.30 - 10pm there had been plenty opportunity to put these skills into practice over some very challenging terrain.

Thanks very much Emma and good luck with your assessment.



Steep ground below The Bell



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