Organisational Tips for an ML Assessment

With the weather getting a little warmer we are approaching the busy season for Mountain Leader training and assessment courses. Preparing to be assessed is often a stressful time for people. It is easy to concentrate on practising navigation and rope work skills as these are often the areas that people are most worried about. By just concentrating on the large areas of the assessment however, many people turn up for the assessment week quite unprepared. For example, forgetting to get a personal profile filled in. Many small organisational issues can be sorted out during the week and are not the end of the world but I think some people miss a trick by not spending some time getting these smaller aspects covered. It is quite often the case that someone who is super organised is better able to relax during the week because they can focus their full attention on the task at hand rather than stressing about things like whether their kit will stay dry as they forgot to buy dry bags. The points below are all ways in which people can organise themselves before and during ML assessment.

  • Make a timings card. If feeling a little stressed sometimes maths seems even harder than it normally does. By having a timings card handy the pressure is taken off having to work out maths equations and you can concentrate instead on navigating.
  • Re-proof waterproof clothing and walking boots. It is so easy to give your waterproofs a new lease of life by using products such as Nikwax. If the weather is really bad you will probably get wet eventually but at least you will have done everything possible to keep yourself comfortable!
  • It may seem obvious but make sure clothing and equipment is tried and tested before assessment and is in good working order.
  • Separate kit into different coloured dry bags so everything is easy to find rather than one big waterproof bag.
  • Cut paper maps up into small sections then laminate. For example, in Snowdonia a full map could be cut up so that you have sections including Snowdon, Glyderau and Carneddau . It is then much easier to keep your position on the map rather than wasting time searching a large map. The laminated sections are also longer lasting than a regular waterproof map.
  • Keep a permanent marker and a chinograph pencil (useful in the wet) handy for writing on maps. It is not only useful to mark your position but I often mark my direction of travel too. I find this saves me time when I next look at the map as without the markings it takes a while to find myself. I even jot down the number of paces when I stop to help me remember where I got to when I start again. It is very frustrating if you have to stop for some reason when pacing and then find you have forgotten where you have got to.
  • Make sure that you have a stock of extra batteries and snack food in easily accessible pockets as this will reduce faff time. Having little snacks regularly helps keep your body and mind energised.
  • Consider changing the string on your compass to a length that suits you. I use a mini karabiner to clip one end to my jacket pocket. Many people like to put their compass around their neck using the string it came with but it is then quite short for measuring on the map and often is a bit high for effectively following a bearing. I have also attached toggles to the string which I use to help me keep count when pacing by moving one toggle along when I reach 100m.
  • Get paperwork in order. The director of the course may have 12 logbooks to look through. You will earn immediate brownie points if you have organised everything in an easy to follow way as this will save them time. Even if you have filled in your paper logbook consider using D-Log which can be found in your section of the Mountain Training CMS. This will show at a glance the number of quality mountain days (QMD’s) and which mountainous areas you have visited. If you prefer to use your paper logbook there are also ways in which you can make the course directors life easier:Remove any unnecessary pages such as syllabus etc.
    Put your contact details at the start.
    Clearly write your name on the front and along the spine.
    Highlight quality mountain days or include a summary sheet with your top 40 days.
    Type the entries to make as neat as possible.

We have various ML assessment and also ML training courses running in Snowdonia throughout the year. Why not join us on our next Mountain Leader Training course in Snowdonia which is running from the 25th-30th May.