MTA Autumn Conference 2014

Over 100 members and 20 workshop providers took part in the Mountain Training Association (MTA) Conference this weekend at Plas y Brenin, the National Mountain Sports Centre in North Wales.

The conference was aimed at supporting and developing professionalism and participants attended workshops on a variety of topics from legal issues and marketing to leading gorge walks and coaching navigation.

A showery day on Saturday, followed by a slightly drier day on Sunday made excellent testing weather for the Sherpa Adventure Gear jackets which were available for members to borrow. And Sherpa-sponsored athlete Heather Geluk delivered an inspiring presentation on Saturday evening about her mountaineering journey and the people she’s met along the way. From personal experience, Heather was keen to praise the work of outdoor instructors and the role they play in inspiring other people to achieve their goals, however big or small they may be.

Click on the image to move through the gallery.

Scrambling 3 Scrambling 1 Scrambling 2 Scrambling 4 Practising ropework 2 Practising ropework 3 Practising ropework 1 Contour masterclass continues Getting to grips with GPS Guest speaker Heather Geluk Busy room for Heather Geluk Will Kilner route setting Mike Pinder route setting Route testing 1 Route testing 2 Route testing 3 Choosing winner with Sherpa FUNdas practising footwork 1 FUNdas practising footwork 2 Helen Littlejohn testing Sherpa gear Rubber duck enjoying FUNdas Sherpa manikins

The weather was also an advantage for the workshops on leading gorge walks, run by Karl Midlane on behalf of Plas y Brenin, because the Afon Ddu gorge in the Conwy valley was at a good level on both days.

The personal scrambling skills workshops were instructed by members of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI) and they helped all attendees develop their skills beyond the Mountain Leader award. Continuing with the association theme, the British Mountain Guides (BMG) were well-represented in the form of Peak Mountain Training who utilised their extensive experience to deliver two full day workshops on coaching navigation.

Staff from the Roayl Oak Cotswold Outdoors (James Derry and Steve Hayes) ran two half day workshops about using GPS, with special thanks to Garmin for providing the e-Trex 10 and e-Trex 30 devices which were used. Map and compass navigation skills were the focus of the contour masterclass, run by Paul Poole, with geology and the natural environment grabbing the attention of everyone on Paul Gannon’s and Jim Langley’s workshops.

Supervising and climbing skills were covered in the Single Pitch Award refresher and FUNdamentals of Climbing workshops run on both days by Greg Cain and Dave Evans respectively, while Steve Howe’s ropework for Mountain Leaders workshop on the Saturday was very popular with members.

Moving indoors and away from the changeable weather, Nate McMullan's (from the Route Setting Association) route setting workshop was a great introduction to the techniques involved in successful route setting. The routes even received some instant feedback from the harshest of critics (see photos of John Cousins’ children and their friend below). Shelly Barrett from Coya Marketing ran a very useful session on effective marketing and on Sunday afternoon while Rebecca Coles focused on expedition planning. The legal issues workshop, run by Matt Davies rounded off the support for members who run their own businesses or freelance by sharing his first hand knowledge and expertise.

MTA Development Officer Belinda Fear said: “The whole weekend was a real success and Plas y Brenin was buzzing with experienced and passionate leaders, coaches and instructors learning from each other. I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and the enthusiasm for learning which was oozing out of everyone.

“It was lovely to meet lots of new faces and find out what they do. It was also really good to get the regional coordinators together to share their experiences of what’s been working well and give other members a chance to meet them face to face. I think the number of ideas floating around for future workshops is very exciting.”

If you've got any feedback about the weekend please comment below or email

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