Monday, 4 October 2010

British mountain Guides summer test

Back in June the end of September and the first assessment on my guides training seemed ages away, loads of time I thought... As expected it all came around a bit too fast but in the end I got a good chunk of time out in the hills, not as much as I’d have liked but come the start of the assessment I felt I’d put as much effort into getting ready for it as I could have. Even though it rained for 90% of the time and we didn’t get any proper cragging in we had some really good days out just covering lots of easy ground and climbing lots of the classic routes in the mountains.

A rare respite from the rain on the top of Glyder Fach

The six days of assessment was hard, both physically and mentally. The last time I was properly assessed on anything was for my HGV driving tests and that was bad enough having someone watching your every move for 50 minutes, this was going to be six days of someone constantly look over your shoulder! The first two days of personal climbing and the problem/improvised rescue went really well with a couple of days in the sun at Gogarth and Tremadog.

Paul enjoying the sun at Gogarth on the personal climbing day


Unfortunately the Welsh monsoon returned for Wednesday and the start of the two day expedition part of the assessment. Over these two days you cover lots of mountaineering ground using all the different guiding techniques, show you can climb up to VS in big boots with all your bivi kit on your back and lots of night navigation thrown into the mix. The first day eventually ended coming down the Parsons Nose at about 2.00am (after a failed attempt to find the start of Reade’s Route on Crib Goch... opps!) and a final few night navigation legs brought us back down to the Climbers Club hut soaked to the skin at 4.00am. Finding ourselves locked out of the hut with all our sleeping bags inside (the decision not to bivi due to the weather had been made at the start of the day) we got the best result and drove back home for a few hours sleep. We finished off the final day of the expedition on and around the Idwal slabs and Sub Cneifon Rib in, surprise surprise, the rain again.

For the final two days we each had a proper client and an assessor to look after with the first day being a pure guiding day getting as much climbing done as possible and the second a teaching day. My client, Sky, was a super psyched Australian and luckily having lived in the UK for a few years had got used to the rain. We headed over to the Moelwyn’s and up to Clogwyn yr Oen for the first day where the really rough rock gives good positive and enjoyable climbing in the rain. We got ten pitches of climbing in, had the whole place to ourselves and even managed to take the waterproofs off by the end of the day. Chatting about the teaching day on the way back Sky was pretty keen to start looking at gear placements and belay building so with the sun forecast we made a plan to head to Tremadog the next day.

I’ve never done any teaching in my life so to say I was a bit apprehensive going into the final day of the assessment was an understatement. Although I didn’t feel confident by how the day went, I could tell my teaching skills were lacking that little bit of something, by the end of the day Sky had gone from never having seconded VS to cleanly following me up three routes of that grade and building her own bomber belays, but more importantly for me she enjoyed the two days (I think!).

So to the results... well I was really pleased to get a provisional pass, just being asked to observe a couple of days teaching to help give me a better idea on that side of things before I got an official pass. I was fortunate enough to be able to join Chris Ensoll (www.chris-ensoll.com) in the Lakes this weekend to get the required days done and my summer assessment signed off.

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