LOGBOOKS AND RECORDING EXPERIENCE
Mountain Training highly recommends that you use the online digital logbook facility in the Candidate Management System (known as DLOG ) to record your winter mountaineering experience. If you chooses to use an alternative method, e.g. spreadsheet or ‘paper’ logbook then the entries should follow a similar format (headings, etc.) as those contained in DLOG. Entries should be concise and easy to read.
What goes in the logbook?
The logbook should provide a total record of your winter mountaineering experience and demonstrate, at assessment, that the Board's requirements have been fulfilled. It is an essential tool to help trainers advise you on specific further experience needed before assessment and can also be used by employers after assessment to demonstrate continuing experience.
A key facet of all the Mountain Training awards is that competence is fundamentally based on extensive quality personal experience of the activity. Having relevant and extensive personal experience is key to success at assessment.
In this case – the Winter Mountain Leader – at assessment you need to have logged over forty quality winter days, gained in three different mountain areas in the UK over a minimum period of two winter seasons with the majority UK based (75%), with at least 50% gained in Scotland.
What is a Quality Mountain Day?
Put simply, Quality Mountain Days are the cream of your mountaineering and hillwalking experience. They consist of winter hillwalking in a variety of areas, weather conditions and snow types. The gains you make in developing this experience, for example fitness, technical competence, decision making skills etc., carry straight into how you operate as a Winter Mountain Leader. There is nothing like the Scottish Highlands in winter time to present a wide variety of tough, challenging winter adventures. Other areas such as North Wales and the Lakes have winter conditions, but you are never that far from a road or habitation offering a fast and comparatively easy escape from the mountains. That’s not always the case in the Scottish Highlands.
Likewise with overseas experience – if the overseas experience is very close to the winter environment encountered in the UK then that experience may well be valid. However the Winter Mountain Leader is a UK based award so the bulk of your winter experience should be UK based. At assessment a your logged days should have the majority UK based (75%), with at least 50% gained in Scotland and done with you either in sole charge of the party, on your own, or with peers.
When with peers it is suggested that you play a full part in the decision making and so forth rather than following a more experienced friend who makes all the decisions, does the navigation, etc.
Grade I climbs
In addition to Quality Mountain Days, you will need to have logged at least 10 Grade 1 or above named UK winter climbs or equivalent mountaineering routes. The requirement to have completed climbs or equivalent mountaineering routes, in what is essentially a hillwalking leadership award, always provokes the question – why? In winter time the boundary between hillwalking and mountaineering is very blurred. For example very icy underfoot conditions coupled with snow build-up can turn what was an innocuous slope into something far more technical and challenging. In such a situation the Winter Mountain Leader has to be able to move about the ground in a skilful, relaxed and efficient manner so that they can devote their full attention to managing their team. Hence there is a requirement for a Winter Mountain Leader to be able to move about on this type of mountaineering terrain. It can be difficult to quantify whether you have this experience or not, therefore the requirement to have completed 10 Grade I climbs or equivalent mountaineering routes is a shorthand way of ensuring that you have definitely had experience of moving on steep terrain.
You will be required, on your assessment, to move about on Grade I mountaineering type ground, which could be steep open snow slopes, snow covered rock and turf, hard neve, etc. So experience of a variety of underfoot conditions on equivalent Grade I type ground is essential. A Winter Mountain Leader will not be much use to their group if they are a shaky, quivering wreck cautiously teetering across a snow slope trying to look after them. Confidence breeds confidence – so if the Leader is confident, in all likelihood their group will take heart from that.
Preparing for assessment
It is in your interest to evaluate your record of experience before applying to attend an assessment course. The assessment Course Director will be looking for experience that has been acquired over at least three winter seasons and in several mountain areas. You should remember that experience concentrated in one area or undertaken as a student under instruction has a lower value, and may be discounted or treated as of a relatively low value when considering depth and breadth of experience.
If using an alternative electronic or paper logbook you are requested to identify your best 40 winter QMDs when submitting log books to assessors. An * by the side of the entry, and/or highlighted, is recommended (the Mountain Training DLOG does this for you).