|Worn down to the knees? … this is Steff from MGS after Saturday’s rather long hill day.|
I was just about to write up this weekend’s Winter Skills course when I received the following text from Callum, on one of the participants, he say’s it all really. (And for more pictures see the slideshow at the bottom of this post … sorry Corporate IT viewers will you’ll need to wait till you get home to see them.)
Calum MacLeod, Community Housing Officer, North Berwick: This excellent weekend began with a gentle walk into the Cairngorms from the car park about 5Km from our base at the Lagganlia Outdoor Centre. The accommodation itself came in the form of a large, warm, and clean lodge with plenty of room for our intrepid party. The lodge came ‘fully loaded’ with such luxuries as dishwasher, washing machine and most importantly, a drying room. It also had a large communal dining area. All in all a great place came to come back to after a day in the hills.
The group was from a range of backgrounds in the Council with Wildlife Rangers, a Housing Officer, a Learning Assistant and some Teachers. All in all, an interesting and very sociable mix from across the Council and one which brought a real variety of interest and experience to the course.
Needless to say, the Outdoor Learning staff were excellent. Andy I must say only just seemed to edge it on Liz based on the lunch breaks. Contact Outdoor Learning for further clarification on this point!!! [Ed: No idea what he’s on about!]
The business part of the weekend began by sub-dividing into groups best matched to each other. After a walking for a bit we stopped to practice the essential art of the ice axe arrest. This involves learning how to stop yourself sliding down a snow covered slope by using an ice axe. After we have all learned how to do the most basic version of the arrest, we upped the ante by learning how to do it head first!
We progressed through use of crampons, ice belays and lots of the other black arts of the mountains! However, at no point did anyone get out of their depth such was the quality of instruction. Add lovely sunny weather and walk on the Cairngorm Plateau and we all left tired but better for the experience.
If you’re worrying if a course like this is for you, all I would say is you only don’t need to be super fit and have just have an appreciation and desire to venture a bit further outdoors. Even if you don’t own much gear, don’t worry as of the kit you will need is available through the Outdoor Learning staff.
Watch out for the many courses like this coming up in future. I don’t doubt you will enjoy them as much as I have.