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Preparing for your Mountain Leader Assessment.

Updated: Feb 21

This is the last set of top tips for those working towards their Mountain Leader Assessment1 Written by Emma who passed a few years ago and now is very active in teaching navigation to a wide audience...

You’ve completed your ML training week, you’ve had a great time, learned lots, made some new friends. Was it challenging, easy, or just what you expected? Well, that depends on how open-minded, realistic and prepared you were before your training week started. A training week is what it says on the tin. Yes, you need to have 20 QMD’s logged and know which way round to hold your compass, how to tie your bootlaces … but fundamentally you are there to learn, to ask questions and to get a better idea of what the ML award is all about. If it’s a good, well-structured and supportive training week you’ll certainly be left raring to go but also wondering how you now prepare for your assessment. There’s more to the preparation than bagging QMD after QMD in record time. Get as many interesting and varied days and weekends out as possible, go to as many mountain areas as you can, do some multi-day walks, plan some ‘off grid mountain weekends’

The consolidation period is time for you to practice, network, shadow, read and reflect, gain confidence and develop the skills you learned on training.

Mountain Leader
  • Find and join your local MTA Group and get actively involved in everything and anything that is happening locally

  • When visiting other mountain areas for weekends or QMD trips, go and join other MTA groups on events - you will always be made welcome

  • Attend any flora, fauna, geology or other interesting workshops and courses that are available - be like a sponge-like sphagnum moss - you’ll be sick of the stuff by the time you qualify!

  • Go along to some ML refresher courses - and don’t just hang out with the same ML Course Director or ML team - watch, learn and spend time with as many other professionals as you can - you will learn something new every time

  • Go and walk on your own - in ALL weather conditions ïLearn to navigate well with a variety of maps and scales, learn how to handle a map well in bad weather. Spend time getting lost and relocating – in all weather conditions. Practice navigating to points using your map memory - take your head out of the map and enjoy your walking.

  • Set yourself a realistic deadline and then book your assessment - it’s useful to have a goal - it will keep you focused.

  • Don’t become too obsessed with QMD’s - yes, they are important and necessary but your day on the hill needs to be quality - it’s not a race up and down just to tick another box.

  • Enjoy your walking - spend time learning about the environment around you

  • Wild Camp - practice with your kit, go out camping in bad weather, decide what works, what doesn’t, go out on our own, be slick with your gear and don’t change anything before your assessment. ML assessors want to know that you can manage a bad weather situation and cope with a smile on your face.

  • Leading a group isn’t all about marching from the front, up the mountain to reach a summit. It’s about engagement with your group, sharing your passion and enthusiasm for walking and the natural environment. Be interested in people.

  • In the lead up to your assessment give yourself a week or two off, relax, get back to some normality, spend time with family and friends. The best marathon runners tailor their training in the build-up to the big day and it can be very easy to burn out leading up to assessment. Relax, be ready and be confident that you ARE ready.

  • Lastly, enjoy your assessment – because when you are enjoying something it will show!

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