Tuesday, 30 June 2009

It's not just about navigation!

Although navigation skills are an essential part of the Mountain Leader qualification, my training course with Stuart Johnston Mountaineering revealed that the role of an ML isn't just about ferrying people from A-B. Your job as leader is to chat to the group and find out what interests them about the outdoors, sparking off stimulating conversation whenever appropriate.

The idea is to entertain, involve and educate people about what Stuart kept calling 'our office'. Instead of computers, phones and paper clips, MLs must be knowledgeable about little yellow flowers that used to dye ancient people's clothes, soggy moss that made a great wound-packer in wars and weird puff balls that shot out brown sawdust-like spores.

Not everyone likes the plant side of things, so there's the history of the area to research, the big and small animal life you find there, the geology of the strangely-striped rocks to learn about, and some people even regale their clients with ancient folk songs or spooky legends and fairytales about the area.

The best thing is that you don't need to chant the flora and fauna off by heart, simply carry a small book or waterproof, laminated cards around with you, which you can even make yourself.

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