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MIA Assessment Day 3 - Client Day

Leading two clients on Amphitheater Buttress

So we've had two technical days, now it's time for the mental challenge of Day 3; "Teaching Day" or "Client Day". This seems to be the day that everyone fears. I'll set out a brief detail of how the day runs from my experience, a brief explanation of how it actually ran for me and then finally (and this is the bit I do have experience of) how to get through a Meltdown...

When you break it down this day it is Actually quite simplistic. As I see it, you only have to do three things and you are in control of ALL of them.

1) Keep you and your Clients Safe (The Assessor looks after themselves) 2) Progress your clients learning to a suitable level, 3) Make best use of the time available.

That's all there is to it. Now you can expand on each point but in a nutshell that's all you have to do. So why do so many people (me included) make suck a hash of it?

Having spoken to quite a few fellow MIA's, I believe it comes down to one simple point. A Lack of proper preparation and experience, working too much in isolation of other MIA's and MIA Trainees.

If you have spent a lot of time climbing with your friends, all be it in three's or taking friends of friends out etc then I believe that you are going to find this day tough. People you know tend to behave as you expect them to. Whatever their skill set and experience, you tend to have a level of trust that they are not going to do anything stupid. When you shout "SAFE" at the top of the climb, people you know tend not to completely strip their own belay before you've had a chance to take in the rope and put THEM on belay. People you know tend not to completely untie from the rope at the third stance on Giants Crawl because they need a wee. People that you know tend not to say that they have climbed on Everest when in fact they have only walked into base camp and never worn crampons in their lives and you are currently on the summit of an Antarctic Peak and you have to get them and two rather angry Yorkshire people back down this 1500m peak for Gin and Tonic at 16:30 (PYB time rules seem to get everywhere).

When you meet random people at a Cafe in the morning and then take them into the mountains within 20mins you develop a skill set that can not be learnt from a book. You can tell a lot about a man by the shoes and their gaite...

My deferral assessment went something like this. Met clients, wasn't prepared for their skillset, experience or level of motivation. Made bad decisions and went into meltdown. Deferral came.

Keep calm and remember your good at this

LESSON 1: Do not fit your clients to a pre-determined lesson plan. PYB do a very good job in getting a variety of clients with a variety of skill sets and it's probably just pot luck whom you get. Skill level can vary from SPA level to hardly climbed ever. You could quite easily have one of each.

LESSON 2: Look after your clients in every way. They may have put a harness on 30 times before but doesn't mean they have ever got it right before. If you are cold then they will be colder. Those 'football club' style woolly hats with the really thick headband are a dreadful fit under a helmet. Have a couple of powerstretch beanies in your bag. Leave the ground as a competent looking team and you'll keep the meltdown away for a bit...

LESSON 3: Have Plan, A, B, C, D, E etc and be prepared to switch plans to suit the situation. If Plan A doesn't work and you haven't got a plan B then Meltdown is coming...

LESSON 4: Don't turn a deferral into a failure. Once you have f#cked up, accept it and carry on in a better frame of mind. You still have two clients to look after.

I look back on that day as a big lesson in my journey towards MIA. Bad preparation is as much use as no preparation. You get led into a belief that you are better than you actually are. I was better than I was on that day but I had let other items control me, namely;

  • The bad weather (it really was atrotius)

  • The experience of the clients

  • My experience of that type of client

Prior to assessment I'd climbed all over the world from Winter Alpine, Patagonia, Northern Sweden, Antarctica and the Eden Valley! I really thought I was a Rock and Mountain God. What I had not done was prepare well outside of my comfort zone. This had led me into complete meltdown. I made some choices that to this day are quite beyond me. Real Clients are absolutely brilliant, whilst also being just plain scary at time. You are the leader/instructor - act like one.

Prepare well...

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