MDT and the present

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AllisterFenton
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Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 12:58 pm
Real Name: Allister Fenton

MDT and the present

Post by AllisterFenton »

Hello all you climbing professionals and industry workers.

Is anyone as befuddled by the MDT as I am?

The Mountain Development Trust is an organization aimed at recreational climbing leaders. Their qualifications have no real weight behind them besides being the "industry standard".

As someone who regularly coaches children and adults indoors and outdoors (in recreational and sporting contexts), I'm looking for a way to back myself with a piece of paper (something quite important these days) and for someone "official" to say that I know what I'm doing.

The MDT only has an email or fax ( :lol: ) number for those wishing to get in contact with them and previous attempts haven't been successful.

See their website at samdt.co.za

As an industry, are we happy with what's going on with the MDT, is there a better way to do things and what should we be doing to cover ourselves against the most unfortunate, but unfortunately not entirely preventable, chance of a serious accident or death.

Let me know your thoughts,


Allister


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raphaeltube
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Real Name: Raphael
Location: Strand

Re: MDT and the present

Post by raphaeltube »

Hi

*I'm not an expert, but from what I understand:
The 1st thing to note is that to properly (from a legal standpoint) register as a guide, you should have a SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) accredited qualification.
The MDT is not accredited with SAQA and their awards do not meet SAQA requirements.

The other thing to note is that the MDT does not provide training. They just administer the awards & curriculum etc. To do their courses, you's still work through an independent trainer/assessor.

Although their website is not very informative, you can download their prospectus here:
http://www.samdt.co.za/uploads/8/4/8/7/ ... 015-02.pdf

-R
mokganjetsi
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Real Name: Willem Boshoff
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Re: MDT and the present

Post by mokganjetsi »

Gavin Raubenheimer at Peak High might be able to give you some insight; they're active in training MDT accredited courses. https://peakhigh.co.za/courses/certified-courses/

Venture Forth has been the standard setting trainers on this side of the world; a read up on their website should help: https://www.ventureforth.co.za/guide-qualifications
AllisterFenton
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Real Name: Allister Fenton

Re: MDT and the present

Post by AllisterFenton »

Thanks for the reply Raphael and Mokganjetsi

I'm not a guide nor looking to guide (although in the future that might be something I get into)

I'm a coach, in climbing.

Someone comes to me because they want to send that 27 they've been working for 4 months, or they want to go to Rocklands this winter and have a good time flashing 6a. I coach new climbers who have hit the 18-21 plateau. I coach experienced climbers who want to carry on sending 21 as they age and become more prone to injury

I coach kids who want to make the national team so they can go to the youth worlds and represent SA in climbing. I coach kids who want to learn to climb so they can make the school team and represent their school.

I've been a climber for 15 years and working in the climbing industry for over 10 years in various forms (retail, gyms, coaching). I've done some stuff with the MCSA and with the SANCF on national and provincial/ section levels.

I have an expired Single Pitch Supervisor so I'm familiar with the prospectus and Gavin, Rob, Tristan et al (5 stars all round BTW).

Is the MDT meeting the needs of the climbing industry as it grows and changes or is it gatekeeping the pieces of paper that permit me to do my job?
wildx
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Real Name: Bernie Theron

Re: MDT and the present

Post by wildx »

When I was looking into it, wanting to commit and backed out every time like a little baby (end up in a nine to five). I also became weary of what I paid for...

As mentioned above, 'real' qualifications come from the government, and the MDT works weirdly to create a 'standard' for companies/schools/gyms to follow in hiring practices. For example, the school gets a massive shock when they realise climbing is dodge when many teens are climbing. The head of sport will say "get qualified coaches to reduce risk/not get sued". The coach then goes and do the MDTs (as it's the only body doing this kind of thing). The coach learns some Significant skills throughout the course from highly qualified instructors. So the coach has some skills to reduce risk at the gym. The school thinks it has reduced risk and got itself sorted for when a parent sues because the kid broke his back.
But like Allister is pointing to. Gym climbing/coaching has nothing really to do with guiding. Different scenarios for different practices (there are obvious overlaps).

So when something happens, the school /gym /company manager will be shocked to hear that mdt doesn't have intrinsic worth.
What it provides is the beginning of the recorded history of the individual fulfilling obligation to make sure he/she knows what they doing. I.e. I did these courses, logged trips, accents, and climbs (experiences) to be able to prove to you (public opinion/ courts/ company) that I tried my best to be knowledgeable to keep your kid from breaking his back. At the same time, you have to prove that you did everything in your ability to foresee risk and mitigate it before the event. Giving the kids a crash course in how to use belay devices and then giving them a grigri.
(I am still not sure how this foreseeing and preparing is linked to the qualification)

So now you need to pay a bunch of money to get taught skills which may not be even relevant, from a qualification system that nobody really knows why they exist in order to prove something(?) to corporate structures.

All and all mdt guys are part of a small group of south africans who are dutifully transferring useful knowledge to loads of peoples in a booming scene. Very useful. And there is certainly space for transferring that knowledge & skills for money. But transferring that knowledge for a qualification... I am still not sure about that.

How is the next generation of industry professionals (Alister) part of this marketplace? What will happen to these qualifications when the few MDT instructors retire?

Fit for purpose? I am not sure of that.

(I am not trying to step on toes,
I only know as much as I know,
I can be wrong,
I can be right,
The point is an open debate where we all learn!)

[Edit: I note, importantly, that there is a difference between the MDT administration and the course instructors... I may have confused the two. But as far as I know, it's still a system in the hands of a few who has the level of MDT' accreditation to be able to instruct on the standard of their knowledge. ]
Old Smelly
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Re: MDT and the present

Post by Old Smelly »

Just some observations...I need to be careful to not be drawn out by Allister.

The MDT Qualifications and the NQF ones are essentially the same. The MDT qualifications were created for Mountain Users by the Mountain Users.

The NQF qualifications were an attempt by Government to turn them into Industry Qualifications. Most people can do an MDT set of courses and add on the NQF requirements (FAGASA Field Guide etc.)

Rumour has it from several years ago that the NQF qualifications were going to fall away anyway (making all that extra time and money not worth it)

Ultimately the recommendation to get hold of Gavin and ask about the qualifications is probably right - he may know what is going on and where it is all headed.

And a final observation - if the qualified guides oversee the standard of guiding and climbing excellence in the country its not a bad thing - it is more of the cost involved to reach that level and then to earn a living from it that is the problem - it leaves a situation where very few people will ever hold the higher level qualifications and so very few people will do training and courses.

The British have made the whole system much more complicated than it needs to be but have achieved a common standard that works - ideally we should just have one school in the country that trains everyone to the same standards and those could actually be the MDT ones, that would eliminate all this wondering and variation. MDT Qualifications are suited to what they address.
Really, its not that bad...I think it's my shoes...
Gavin
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Real Name: Gavin Raubenheimer
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Re: MDT and the present

Post by Gavin »

Allister to try and answer your questions.

Firstly the MDT is a body that was formed some 6 years before the NQF arrived on the scene. It is based on the UK system and the standards are very similar if not identical at times. We copied their standards and awards with their blessing, as the UK is the world leader in this type of thing. There are changes where needed. eg. on the Mountain Leader award, heights of mountains are different and the MDT teaches the rope work as a normal operation, but in the UK they say a rope is used as an emergency in this context.

Next is the NQF is all about commercial guiding and in particular, its about the assessment to be found competent against a Unit standard. How the candidate gains those skills is up to them. There is no such thing a set NQF training course, for say for ice climbing. An NQF trainer may have their own training course, but its not standardized. There is a Unit standard to say what the candidate must achieve, but not how to get trained. That is where the MDT offers the right kind of hard skills course that a NQF candidate might want to take, prior to NQF assessment.

There is also a tendency for people to get focused only on the NQF. Remembering that when taking a course or assessment, the person may have no want of ever being a guide. eg. A teacher who takes kids on weekend hikes, or a MCSA meet leader taking a rock-meet, might be required by their organisations to have training and assessment. That's what the MDT does. Or people just want a certified standard course about how to do recreational rock climbing. That again is what the MDT does and the NQF has not equivalent.

When the NQF arrived, the MDT standards were used to create the NQF Unit standards, again with some changes here and there. So on paper they should be almost the same. But in reality they are not. I know this as I both wrote the MDT and NQF standards and was one of about 4 people who sat and converted MDT to NQF. The big difference is that the MDT places far less weight on evidence of a skill,but rather each MDT candidate has to practically demonstrate the skill in front of an assessor/instructor. ie. You cannot "wing" an MDT assessment.

The NQF allows evidence to be gathered to show a skill. eg, stance management on a multi-pitch route. This the NQF candidate could practically demonstrate in front of the assessor. But what usually happens is pictures and or videos are handed in as evidence of the skill. The candidate is "ticked off" as competent. I had to go through this assessment many years ago and as a Mountaineering Guide I had to show evidence of leading grade 4 water ice. (now I can lead WI 4) but both my assessor had never lead ice at this level and the moderator has never even climbed water ice ! Yet I was found competent.

The result is that the NQF might be giving the licence for a person to ask money for their services, but the skill level of SA guides is shockingly low, coupled with trainers and assessors who themselves are shockingly in need of hard experience.
SNORT
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
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Re: MDT and the present

Post by SNORT »

So Gavin the whole system is rotten and defunct according to you and I don't mean to be obnoxious. You used the word "shockingly twice in reference to people who do this stuff.

To me then it is merely a method of monetizing climbing "guiding" expensively and making it very difficult for anyone interested in trying to make a living from it? e.g. to do a TR /abseil course is like R5k and a week? Really?

I have "guided" hundreds if not thousands of people up routes with no particular qualification other than experience (having learned from others like I did surgery) for no charge and that is OK but if I did charge then I need to be "qualified"? And nothing anyone can teach me in an hour never mind a week can possibly make me more qualified to abseil, even with novices, off Fitzroy Yellowwood or Blouberg.

Forgive me for sounding arrogant.

Sounds like protectionism and berueacratic BS to me. But you, like me, are experienced and have learned climbing long before rules, accreditation and "standards" existed.

So where does this leave the "industry"?
Old Smelly
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Re: MDT and the present

Post by Old Smelly »

I personally think you misread.

The courses and training are good. They are specific to what they were created for and of a high standard - being based on an older UK Standard.

The fact that guiding qualifications require some sort of standardisation is not bad - and SNORTS continual railing against formal training is notable and consistent - and not particularly valid when it comes to qualifications and standards. Let me qualify this - there is nothing wrong with having learned from mentors and by experience and experiments throughout ones vast and distinguished career - I can tabulate the great achievements and must say they are considerable. That's just not relevant when it comes to training and implementing a standard.

So forgot the standards and training and let everyone be FREE!!! They can use sitting stances and one piece of pro a pitch and just use any methods they have seen on the web - whatever...

However when it comes to guides and instructors there is the expectation that they will be qualified (in what they are instructing) and that the qualification is worth something, adjudicated by a recognised body and up to date and valid in some way.

Sure we all know - climb with whoever you like and you assume the risk - that's fine, otherwise we would all require our partners and climbing buddies to be qualified (sort of like the gym requires before anyone is allowed to do anything).

So the distinction is simple - the moment you pay someone for guiding or instruction there is a contract - with an implied requirement for proof of ability. At this point you are no longer assuming the risk yourself.

So Allister is right - the moment there is an expectation of qualifications then the INSTRUCTOR needs to have some and some way of showing they are current. Does the MDT perform that role? or is the SAQA the one for anything involving paid instruction. It would appear so.

What are the alternatives? Maybe the Indoor industry and Competition climbing can come up with their own as their is money in those spheres. Or we can have Tourism Industry funded training but those will just go back to the SAQA qualification. So what can be done - well where there is funding there is scope for new qualifications - no doubt something like Wall Climber Level I,II and III - but what body will recognise these - the Competition Climbing Circuit?

Outdoors will remain requiring a very similar system to the current one but maybe someone can come up with a radical alternative.

Otherwise maybe it will all be scrapped and everyone can just have their free for all - learn by error approach. In some ways people have been doing that for centuries already...
Really, its not that bad...I think it's my shoes...
SNORT
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Re: MDT and the present

Post by SNORT »

Old Smelly!

I did not misread.

I spent 14 years "practising and training" as a doctor and surgeon b4 I was set free on the public as a private Ortho Surgeon. Although I stopped spinal surgery some years ago insurance to do so now is over R600,000 a year! Just saying.

Then there is a drivers licence. Kids with little or no experience write a learners test and you have to be a dipshit to fail that. Then with a parent or a sibling get in a car and drive. That's by and large it. You can pay an instructor. But that is usually because of convenience and not because it is mandated or necessary. And then, they often pass on their first go! No expensive week long course.

Then there is Cityrock where you do a very basic competency test and can do a very short course effectively free to top rope and lead if you have no idea whatsoever.

Outside of CR there are varsity clubs and the MCSA where there plenty people willing and able to show teach and mentor.

I just don't get it that one has to spend like over 20k and several weeks to do courses to "qualify" for anything in climbing. It is a deal breaker for me.

The only other situation that compares is if I want to use a chain saw in Sanparks territory. I have extensively used a chain saw on several helihacks and elsewhe. So now I need to spend a week of my time and also about R5k to get certified. I mean WTF. WHy not just test me for compentency!!!!! That is the issue.

In contrast to using a chain saw I have done surgery with high speed burrs and saws and other sharp instruments withing in 0.01mm of hundreds of spinal cords and never actually did a course! And never made a mistake although by now I should have. Like I learned to climb and drive a car I was shown and mentored by my more experienced colleagues and then simply tested! and actually mostly got paid along the way. Not much but some. That is the way to learn.....And then be tested!

The other part of doing courses (which is a different story and argument) is that many people then feel compelled to do it by the book which is pedantic, frustrating and inefficient in many instances...

re.
SNORT
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Re: MDT and the present

Post by SNORT »

So Allister with all your experience which is probably unmatched by anyone else in South Africa given that you have not only climbed trad and sport on crags and big walls, but you have also worked for years in a gym AND coached here is what I propose: (Gavin Raubenheimer maybe you can also consider doing this.)

Create curriculum and a syllabus, theory and practise, of each module (top rope, abseiling, lead etc) and make you-tube videos of all the criteria required for a particular module or qualification.


Individuals can then do a theory exam followed by practical exam. Just like a drivers licence. These can obviously fetch a fee as does a drivers licence.

Define criteria of who can do the practical testing. This should not be too difficult as anyone with any experience and half a brain can follow the you-tube videos.

Besides this, list experience criteria that include the climbing of routes or whatever else any particular module of qualification requires. I. E. a log book of experience, that includes photos and videos (as proof) that individuals need to complete and that need to be signed off and witnessed by other climbers. Just like any apprenticeship as in plumbing or for that matter even surgery. This will to some extent lead to fraudulent log books but like with any CV this can be verified in most cases with a few phone calls.

If an individual feels that he/she wants to do a course and pay for it, well that's fine. Go knock yourself out! But after 47 years of experience I am not bothered and will happily just apply myself to do the tests. And may even fail once or twice! Having said that I have never failed any qualification test I have ever applied myself too whether it be in school, boy scouts, or medicine and in climbing I have as much experience as in anything else I have ever done - so lets see.

I think this is so important and relavent that I am prepared to fund setting this up. Please give me plan and a quote.
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