Interview with Mountain Leader Training Association UK

We came across resources and training provided by the Mountain leader Training Association for the UK, and their new indoor climbing wall award. and thought this sounds like something we should be sharing with our readers.  We don’t just sell camping equipment, we really love our climbing gear too, and are keen to provide a range of outdoor advice pages including an introduction to bouldering.

You might also be interested in reading the interviews with professional climbers and mountaineers for a little inspiration…

You can also find a list of indoor climbing walls here too.  Now for the interview with Mountain Leader Training Association…

Mountain Leader Training Association What is your name and what are your responsibilities as part of the Mountain Leader Training Association?

Steve: My name is Steve Long and I work as the Chief Officer for Mountain Leader Training, which is a charity run by co-opted volunteers from the outdoor education industry and voluntary sector.

My role is to co-ordinate the work of the home nation boards, which oversee the Single Pitch Award, Mountain Leader (summer and winter) Walking Group Leader and the new Climbing Wall Award. I also directly manage the Mountaineering Instructor qualifications and the International Mountain Leader Award, and I am a member of the British Mountain Guides training committee. Our organisation has to ensure that it stays “fit for purpose” by marketing our awards to employers and voluntary organisations, and consulting widely with all our stakeholders so I’m also supposed to be something of an ambassador for the awards. Why did you set-up the climbing wall award?

Steve: We have been running the Single Pitch Award for nearly two decades now; before that the only qualification available for teaching climbing was the Mountaineering Instructor Award. Introducing a lower level award for the single pitch environment was very controversial at the time and required years of negotiations but it has stood the test of time. Nowadays a lot of very competent climbers only climb on artificial walls, so after a consultation process we designed a qualification that doesn’t require outside climbing experience. Have there been any advantages of this award that you have been surprised by?

Steve: The award has brought our moderators (for external validation) into some interesting and vibrant inner city areas. There is a much wider mix of backgrounds for people taking this award, and the ratio of female to male participants is about 50% which is a much higher than for our other awards. How well has it been received by the climbing community?

Steve: The CWA has been even more popular than we anticipated. The consultation process helped because we knew that we had got the right balance before we published the syllabus and guidance notes. The Association of British Climbing walls has since joined the Board of MLTEngland, which is also a good step forward for us. How many people have registered for the climbing wall award?

Steve: We’ve already received well over 500 registrations in less than a year; courses are being offered all over the UK and also in Northern Ireland. What is the best way of getting accreditation for the award?

Just enjoy climbing at a variety of walls and with a range of partners. Our awards are designed and run by activists, for activists. Do you think that having this accreditation make instructors better at what they do?

Steve: Yes, I believe that fundamentally, otherwise I wouldn’t stay in this job. We’ve had over 40 years to steal the best ideas from thousands of teachers and coaches, and distil them into our awards. Candidates meet like-minded enthusiasts, share ideas and are challenged to be innovative while at the same time inducted in accepted best practice. It’s much more efficient than trial and error, which is the way that I learned! Do you have any more awards or developments as part of Mountain Leader Training that you would like to share?

Steve Long, MLTA. Picture by Mike Raine

Steve: You bet! There are so many exciting plans it’s hard to pick a few highlights. We have a new focus on lifelong learning so the Mountain Leader Training Association will really take off next year with a wide range of Continuing Personal Development courses and opportunities. We will be introducing the Indoor Leading Award for teaching lead climbing in the summer of 2009 and are about to start work on a full progression of qualifications for coaches, building on the success of the FUNdamentals course but taking it to its logical conclusion. Also a review of the MIA scheme, and work at an international level to increase recognition of qualifications and co-operation between countries. Plus new text books under production and the list goes on! Any other points about climbing that you would like to add, sponsors you would like to thank, etc?

Steve: We are planning to take on more staff next year so if you are interested in working at the cutting edge, watch this space! We don’t really have any sponsors as such but we work in close partnership with the home nation mountaineering councils who are often able to source funding for projects. The BMC persuaded Sport England to pay towards the development of the Climbing Wall Award and its successor, the Indoor Leading Award. The Welsh Assembly has also been helpful lately, funding a research project and providing me with a business mentor.

Mountain Leader Training HQ: Siabod Cottage, Capel Curig, Conwy

Steve: I’m sure that as MLTA develops we will start to work a lot more closely with the business community. Sponsors will soon recognise the opportunities that are presented by working with climbers and walkers who are dedicated to putting something back into the sport and continuing to develop their leadership and teaching skills. Thanks for taking the time out to answer these questions – I’m sure a great deal of climbers out there will appreciate knowing that there’s help and training out there to accredit their climbing skills and experience!


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