As it is now "Assessment Season" I thought I'd drag out a few articles I wrote about what to expect on Assessment. It became apparent that a few people I had spoken to over the next couple of years really didn't know what to expect on Assessment week. This is mainly due to the fact that quite a few people work in isolation as they are not 'in the industry' and don't get the chance to speak to Actual MIA's that much.
Below is MY take on what to expect. It is not a 'do this and you'll pass' guide - I'm afraid there are no easy ways to an MIA. It's more of a 'this is a logistical view on the five days'.
I Deferred the Teaching day first time round by making a bad judgement call and then pulled myself back into gear and flew through nav day with ease. I thought I'd pass on some of my day by day experience of my assessment to give those who have not had the pleasure some idea of what is going to happen. I'll do it day by day in separate posts. Here's Day 1.
Personal Climbing Day:
Thought by many to be the easy day; just go out and climb a VS 4c and go home for tea and cake. It's not like that at all. I think the best way to describe the day is a guiding day with 2 competent clients - you're the guide (note the small 'g'). If the weather's bad then you'll probably be at Tremadog. It would be an advantage to know the VS's from Yogi to Merlin through to One step in the clouds really well, however as long as you are operating at VS on a wet day it should not matter. This is not the time to be flicking through guidebooks trying to find the start of the route. You may get the choice of what to lead but that choice will be limited to wherever the assessor decides to go.
First decision of the day will be whether to climb in series or parallel. The choice is yours but you need to be able to explain your reasons. Climb your route with style and grace. On my assessment the best candidate amongst the 6 of us (the best by far) could only lead VS. The first day was the day he was most worried about! You don't have to be a rock jock but climb the route as you would normally climb it and place the pro you normally would. Don't #uck about trying to force a hex in when you know a cam would be better. The two people on the end of the rope are competent climbers, no one is playing games today.
You will probably lead the whole route so rig the belay so that you are climbing again. Rig your belay so that you can see the others. The assessor whats to see your stance and rope management skills. The assessor will come up first. You will need to belay really fast as your assessor will be moving quick , don't allow them to 'climb into slack' - that was my only 'bad' of the day. Don't forget your climbing calls, make them loud and clear and at the right times. Don't shout "climb when ready" if you are not.
The assessor will come up to your belay and then immediately pretty much ignore you. This takes a bit of getting used to, it's not personal it's just that they have other things to do... First thing they will do is look at your belay with a fine tooth comb. They will check every placement. Woe betide you if you have a single dodgy piece. No excuses. Remember this is the only day that you can fail out right and not be allowed onto days 2-5!
If they like it they will clip into it, try and have spare carabina's set up and ready for them. I found the assessors very nice but very professional, not so much of the friendly banter/piss taking as on the training. Remain professional yourself, they are your clients so look after them and KEEP THEM AND YOU SAFE.
Bring up the other candidate and clip them to the belay. Make sure your rope management is good and that your ropes are on top and the ropes are flaked. The other two will do that for you if you ask. When you get to the top you may be asked to prepare a descent.
They'll probably be wanting an abseil.
You have a choice. Stacked, standard retrievable or a releasable. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Know them and chose the right one for the situation. The other candidate will climb next so the pressure is off a little but it's not over yet.
You will probably have to do another pitch at least. If you have not climbed in parallel yet then you will on this pitch. Have a good knowledge of the reasons for and against. You will need a guide plate. Belay using a method that suits you. I prefer to pull on each rope individually and my Assessor agreed with that. Know how to release a loaded guide plate and be prepared to show how to do this or at least explain how you do it.
Top out, ab off and go home for a well earned rest. You many want to go into the training wall tonight to practice your rescue skills because tomorrow is problem solving day. PYB were happy for us to do this, just go to the front desk and organise it. Don't worry about going to bed early because you won't get any sleep...
KEY THING FOR THE DAY IS TO KEEP YOURSELF AND OTHERS SAFE AT ALL TIMES. Try and get your VS 4c pitch done today, even if it is driving rain just get on it and get it done.