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To pass your core skills assessment I’d expect to see a good awareness of the underground environment, a good level of navigation (both to the venue and underground), knowledge of the geology and history of the cave or mine we’re exploring, and are appropriately equipped for the trip.

A checklist of the syllabus is available on pages 63 and 64 of the LCMLA handbook (click here to visit the BCA website). I would strongly recommend familiarising yourself with the syllabus.

Before your assessment

All assessments must now be notified to the BCA at least 7 days prior to the assessment date. If you would like an assessment please get in touch as soon as possible so I can register the course.

Before committing to an assessment I’ll need to see evidence that you have the pre-requsit experience (see page 24 of the handbook)…

  • Have registered and completed a LCMLA L1 training course (please send me a copy, a photos fine, of your S1A registration page, and your S4B training record)

The following should be evidenced ideally in your log book, I need to see this before committing to the assessment. Please highlight your 5 quality days when presenting your logbook. I’m happy to see photos or a scan of your logbook pages evidencing the following, however will need to see your original logbook on or prior to your assessment day

  • Have at least 1 year cave/mine exploration
  • 30 trips in 10 different systems (including 2 different type of mines for Mine Leader)
    • A proportion of these should be as a leader under supervision
    • Some trips may be above and beyond the remit of the level 1
    • 5 of these must be quality days, defined as satisfying at least 4 of the following. Please nominate and highlight the 5 trips you consider best reflect quality days in your logbook when presented
      • Exploration of a new route or system
      • Incorporate at least 4 or 5 hours underground exploration
      • An experience that develops an individuals caving/mine exploration knowledge, skills and awareness
      • Incorporates skills above the level of the candidates qualification
      • Self led
      • Involve some vertical skills or digging
      • Exploration of a cave that responds to rainfall

I’ll then send you a question paper which I’ll need returned at least 5 days before the assessment. Your answers to the paper may have bearing on the choice of venues used for the assessment, so the sooner I get the paper back the sooner I may be able to tell you where we’re going!

If you would rather answer the paper verbally we can arrange a telephone call prior to the assessment.

Around 3 days before the assessment I’ll let you know where we’re going. I’ll normally provide a plan/survey for the mine/cave we are using.

During your assessment


Bring your logbook, I’ll need to see your original certificates and log book before the assessment so please have it with you.

Make sure you’ve packed the appropriate kit for yourself, suitable for heading out with a group of capable peers. You’ll need to justify your kit choice so don’t just rely on using “the same kit as every other instructor” if you’re working at a Centre. You will need an appropriate rope (30m should be plenty, unless told otherwise) as well as some slings and krabs.

Expect to be quizzed about the geology, history, conservation, access and any hazards encountered during the trip, the more you can identify things during the trip the better. Be prepared to deal with some scenarios throughout the day. The scenarios will reflect those commonly encountered by leaders, and at least one will require managing a peer up a simple pitch.

Expect to be underground for at least 5 hours during which we may have to deal with simple climbs and traverses.

Following your assessment

Once we’ve completed the trip I’ll let you know how you got on as soon as possible. The outcomes of the day may be a Pass, Fail or Defer. Following a verbal de-brief I’ll email you a copy of your S4B form together with any comments from the day. You’ll then have 12 months to complete your group day