Possibly the longest assessment of my life. The Mountaineering Instructor Award or MIA is a technical award allowing the holder to teach rock climbing, navigation and much more.

The assessment consists of 5 days.

I undertook my assessment at Glenmore lodge and it went a little something like this:

Day one – Personal climbing day. This day is to check you are a climber and can easily climb VS 4c while placing bomb proof gear and looking after two seconds in parallel rope work. You are also asked to rig up and manage a stacked abseil retreat from the crag. Make sure you don’t get your ropes in a twist. We went to Stac An Fharaidh and climbed Whispers and Mack’s Dilema.

Day two – Problem solving day. This is the day everything goes wrong. From finding knots in the rope to dealing with an unconscious climbing hanging off the end of the rope. Again VS 4c is climbed to make sure you’re at the grade. Make sure things are slick but safe. Back up your prusiks and used tied off italian hitch rather than a clove hitch. Keep it simple. We went to Dunkeld on this day and climbed cuticle crack in two pitches, and The End.

Day three – Teaching climbing day. Pick the right crag for the clients, make sure they both learn a bunch of stuff at the right level for them. Make it fun, it should be fun, everyone likes climbing. I chose to go to Kingussie crag as  it allowed me to start easy and get plenty of belays built before moving forward to get a student on the sharp end. Make sure you keep it real, remember these students want to go away and become climbers in their own right.

Day four – Mountain day. Short roping day to you and I this day is designed for the assessors to see the whole picture, can you work as a good ML. Is your knowledge of flora and fauna, history, geology and climbing evident throughout the day. There’s also navigation to and from the scrambling, route finding on the scrambling and the skills required for safe and efficient short roping. My tips are keep it real. if they are going to fall over and just get a sore bum do they really need a tight rope? Be directive and make sure they know where to go, when to move and more importantly when not to. I got give up Dinnertime buttress on Aonach Dudh west face and down Zig Zags on Gear Aonach.

Day Five – Navigation assessment. This is technically a half day, but one not to be underestimated. You will be given 3 legs to navigate at ML level. We were given half an hour to work out how we would navigate to those points and what we would teach on each leg. Once on the hill you are expected to start each leg by telling the instructor what you would teach on that leg then getting it absolutely bang on.


Laura baked me a well done MIA cake!


Ali Gilmour assessing and seconding on Whispers

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