Mountain Instructor Award Logbook Diaries: Part 1

Preparing for your M.I.A assessment (Mountain Instructor Award) is notoriously tough. Matt Roberts shares his logbook diaries as he builds up his experience and gets ready to complete the biggest qualification of his career to date.


Passing your MIA (Mountain Instructor Award) is a pretty big deal in outdoor circles. It takes time, money and commitment and a whole lot of skill. Lead Instructor, Matt Roberts, has set his sights on passing the award this September. 

This month, he’s using his Land & Wave ‘Personal Development Days’ to get quality mountain days in North Wales. He’s invited a number of people to spend days with him in the mountains – a vital prerequisite for the Mountain Instructor Award. Here he shares his logbook diary of his progress so far.

Monday 4 March

Had a good day with Caleb and Sam today. Climbing ‘Christmas Curry’ and ‘Hail Bebe’.

Client objectives: Sam going beyond a single pitch. Caleb learning his local crag.

My objectives: Giving the guys their first multi-pitch adventure, teaching belay set-ups and route identification.

MIA skills covered: Multi-pitch climbing. Belay set-ups. 

04 March

Best bit of the day: Topping out on Christmas curry the guys were stoked at completing their first multi-pitch.

Worst bit of the day: Being hailed on at the top of Hail Bebe. Clue was in the name I suppose.

Tuesday 5 March

Another good day with Carla and Laura. We climbed ‘Boo Boo’, ‘Oberon’ and ‘Hail Bebe’ at Tremadog. The girls did really well and the weather was really kind to us. If In doubt head to Tremadog!!

Client objectives: Laura -to push her climbing skills and go beyond single pitch. Carla – to work on her confidence.

My objectives: Practice bringing up 2 clients of differing ability. 

MIA skills covered: Effective multi-pitch climbing. Belay set-ups. Route identification.

05 March

Best bit of the day: The whole day was great; seeing the clients progress and getting 3 routes done in a day was awesome.

Worst bit of the day: Carla nailing herself in the head with a nut, creating a little lump. Laura found it very funny!

Wednesday 6 March

Great day scrambling up ‘Idwal Buttress’ with Laura and Carla.  A Grade 2 scramble. Great day but wet and windy.

Client objectives: Getting out in the mountains, learning what scrambling is.

My objectives: Practicing leading up two clients on a scramble. Working on selecting the best / safest system to use for the various types of ground covered.

MIA skills covered: Scrambling with 2 clients. 

06 March

Best bit of the day: The lovely conditions at the start of the route. Then watching the clients ‘top out’ with a sense of achievement in really tough conditions

Worst bit of the day: Climbing up a little waterfall. It was so wet!!!

Thursday 7 March

Grade 2 scramble on ‘Barstow Buttress’ on the east face of Tryfan with Owen and Laura.  Great day! We managed to get out of the wind and even ended up on some snow. The guys were awesome. Laura was always smiling and felt like she was in the Lord of the Rings, and Owen had a good time even though he had a hole in his boot!

Client objectives: Having a good mountain day.

My objectives: Practice scrambling and learning the routes on Tryfan

Mountain Instructor Award skills covered: Ascending and descending a scramble.

Best bit of the day: Laura commenting that she felt we were in Lord of the Rings and topping out to a snowy ridge.

Worst bit of the day: Owen slipping around on the descent due to his boots. I managed it fine, but Owen realised he needed new boots and I realised I need to look at the clients equipment more.

Friday 8 March

Today I did a route called ‘Slick’ in Clogwyn yr Oen in the Molwyns with Owen. We managed to start the route in the dry but we were pretty gopping by the end of it! Lovely route though and Owen did really well on his first multi-pitch. Enjoying a hot drink now ! 

Client objectives: Experience multi-pitch climbing.

My objectives: Learn the crag and give Owen a good time.

Mountain Instructor Award skills covered: Multi-pitch climbing, good technique and route finding

08 March

Best bit of the day: the 3rd pitch was an absolute classic.

Worst bit of the day: The heavy rain coming in half way up the climb. Also, Georgii forgetting her climbing harness and not realising until she got to the start of the route. This meant she couldn’t climb with us. This reminded me to double check my clients have their kit when leaving the car.

Saturday 9 March

I took Owen up ‘Poor Mans Peuterey’ in Tremadog. We went to Tremadog to escape the rain and it paid off. Top route, Owen felt out of his comfort zone with the exposure of the route but was really happy that we did it. 

Client objectives: To experience a severe multi pitch.

My objectives: To practice breaking a route up to teach belay stances and keep in communication with my client.

Mountain Instructor Award skills covered: Using half ropes. Belay building. Abseiling off the crag.

Best bit of the day: Watching Owen come up the final pitch, which he was pretty scared on, and seeing how happy he was.

Worst part of the day: Taking a single rope instead of halves and having to walk the 10 mins back to the car to swap the ropes. I forgot there was an abseil and the half ropes would be better.

Sunday 10 March

Today I went out with Mark Reeves from Snowdonia Mountain Guides for a refresher day. He is also going to be my mentor through to assessment. 

We had a scrambling day and went up Idwal Butress. This was a really beneficial day for me. I had taken Carla and Laura up this route a few days before, so it was really good to confirm and improve on what I had done previously. Also, it was a great opportunity for me to ask questions. We had planned to do Cneifion Arete as well but there was too much snow around. 

Afterwards we had a debrief. Mark gave me some really good and constructive feedback and gave me the framework to come up with an action plan, which I’m going to do this week. I’m really glad I’ve signed up and paid to have a mentor. It’s going to be great to have someone I can ask questions to at any time and I feel a lot more confident in what I’m doing.

10 March

Objectives of the day: To get to know each other and for me to get more of an idea of good scrambling practices.

Best part of the day: The whole day! And the feedback I got. I really got a clear idea of what I need to do in my head.

Worst part of the day: None. Loved it.

Tuesday 12 March

I took Matt and Loz up ‘South Arete’ on Foel Goch today. Grade 1+ scramble. We then walked up to the summit of Foel Goch.

Clients objective: Learn how to scramble safely and also have a mountain day

My objectives: Work on my scrambling skills and bring two people up a route efficiently

Mountain Instructor Award skills covered: Scrambling with 2 people

Best part of the day: Great route. Also sliding down the snow at the end of the day.

Worst part to the day: The wet walk in. We thought we were going to be rained on all day but as soon as we started scrambling, the rain stopped, which was excellent.

Read on to Mountain Instructor Award Diary, Part Two.

13 March 2019 by Rosie Tanner

I’m really glad I’ve signed up and paid to have a mentor. It’s going to be great to have someone I can ask questions to at any time and I feel a lot more confident in what I’m doing.

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