7th August 2014

Mountain Leader Assessment

I’ve just returned from assessing a Mountain Leader assessment…

I had three strong candidates with me and we started in Capel Curig going across the Glyders to Cwm Ffynnon the first day, over to Lliwedd the second day camping in Cwm Tregellan and finishing off with a short walk on the final morning. The weather was extremely kind to us, even being dry for the night nav which is a novelty!

One of the main talking points and the source of a little envy was pack sizes. I think that pack size and weight is directly proportionate to how enjoyable the exped is!

The shot below shows the varying pack sizes we had, mine being the smallest on the left.

So what can you do to reduce the size and weight?

Start with a smaller sack, if you have a large one, they say you’ll fill it. I reckon 40 litres is easily doable, I used a Black Diamond Speed 30 although they do come up slightly larger than 30l in my opinion.

Tent wise I use a Terra Nova Laser Comp, I picked this up “cheap” a couple of years ago for £125 from Sports Direct. This weighs in less than a kilo and packs down super small. I don’t really like the tent, but it serves its purpose even using carbon fibre for the two mini poles and titanium tent pegs. On your assessment, if you only have a two man tent, share! There’s no point lugging round a big tent for just one person.

Use the lightest sleeping bag you can, the weather was warm for this trip so I used my Mountain Equipment Titan Light 250 down sleeping bag, which again packs very small and weighs in at 750 grams. If you’re using down, be extra cautious of getting it wet, I carry mine in a lightweight dry bag.

I usually use a Jetboil for cooking, but mine was at my parents house so this trip I used my trusty MSR Pocket Rocket @ 85g, with a titanium mug @ 64g with the smallest gas cannister you can get @ 200g. Food requires some thought as this setup is only good for boiling water, so couscous for dinner (just add water to the packet), porridge for breakfast (again, just add water to the packet) and a few hot chocolates plus other snacks. This keeps things light, simple and minimises washing up.

Those are the main areas for weight saving I think. I put my lighter Crux over trousers in rather than my heavy weight ME ones, I had my normal Patagonia waterproof jacket, carried an Patagonia soft shell and packed my Patagonia Nano Air warm top but didn’t wear it.

As always I had a spare hat and set of gloves, 1st aid kit, camera, 2 x head torches, water, maps plus the usual other bits like spare socks, lighters, spork etc.

By keeping it light, you won’t be working so hard which means you’ll be in a better position to look after your group, navigate successfully and hopefully have a nice few days in the hills!

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