Ski adventures above the clouds for PL and NB pupils

IMG_3476Pupils from Preston Lodge and North Berwick schools took part in a weekend of ski touring with the Outdoor Learning Service.   Driving north on the Friday with 19 degs C having been recorded in Braemar we were ‘optimistic but realistic‘ as to what snow cover we would find for touring in the Cairngorms.

However those that ‘went high’ were rewarded with a world of blue ski, blazing sun and excellent snow above the clouds – on one day at least.

On Saturday we left from  the top ski car-park and set out in hope into a thick grey fog.

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After skinning up Fiacaille of Corrie Cas for an hour the murk started to thin, and after another hour, and just as we reached the Cairngorm plateau, we broke through to blazing sunshine,  a cloudless sky and looked down on the tops of the cloud layer.  A perfect cloud inversion.

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As we rested and took off the skins the blue sky disappeared and cloud rolled back in just as we left to ski down Corrie Raibert.

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Then the blue ski reappeared as we skinned back to the top of Cairngorm.

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And the same happened again as we descended into Ciste Mearid and climbed back out to ski back down Corrie Cas!   In fact all day we seemed to manage to coincide the great downhill skiing with terrible visibility, and the skinned up hill under a blazing sun!  Still a brilliant day, giving these lucky East Lothian school pupils a top intro to ski touring.

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They all got to learn new skills and appreciate back-country skiing away from the crowds and in amazing conditions.

The Sunday saw us back on top of Cairngorm, then a great ski down into Corrie Raibert again, linking up the snow patches we had skinned up the day before. After this it was skins on again and we made our way  round the back of Corrie Sneachda and Corrie an Lochain. In contrast to the day before though we were ‘in the white’ for all the journey over the plateau.

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Each of the team took turns out front and experienced that weird whiteout feeling of no horizon and no way to see if the snow ahead was up, down or flat.  Two hours of careful navigation later and we dropped out of the clouds for an excellent spring snow descent down Lurchers gully.

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Even the one and a half kms slog back back across heather in boots to the car-park failed to take the smiles off the faces.

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Another great day. Given how quickly the white-stuff is going though, unless we get some more snow-fall soon, that will definitely be the last tour of the season from us.

If you are a S4, S5 or S6 pupil, or parent of one and want to participate in next year’s ski touring adventures please contact us.  Click here for the gPhotos album of all photos.

Ski-touring-tastic for ELC teachers

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For the first time the Winter CPD weekend at Badaguish in the Cairngorms last weekend included a ski touring taster for ELC teachers. The purpose of this session was to let teachers experience ski touring in order to help the Outdoor Learning Service deliver this to pupils of East Lothian schools.

On-piste skiing,  foreign trips and lift passes can be expensive, and so are not accessible to all. By contrast for ski touring all you need is equipment and qualified staff (both of which we now have), some snowy Scottish mountains and a bit of leg power!

We  can now offer amazing ski adventures to pupils across East Lothian schools.  In particular we intend to target pupils who get to learn to ski at Hillend but do not have the opportunity to progress further.  Please contact us if you want to know more, or have a group of pupils you would like us to support you with.

Click here for a slideshow of all the photos.

A week in the Cairngorms with Gertrude

A great week based out of Badaguish in the Cairngorms. The first half of the week we had a group from ELWorks, the second half a group of Hillend trained skiers from Musselburgh Grammar School. The aims for both groups was to inspire young people with an adventurous experience, help grow their confidence and develop their outdoor skills.

Monday
We kitted up with Winter skills gear and drove up to the lower Cairngorm car-park at Corrie Ciste with the intention of finding some snow to look at using ice-axe, crampon and dig a snow-hole. IMG_0579

Unfortunately the start of storm Gertrude had different ideas. Torrential rain, high winds. So we headed round rather than up and descended down to Ryvoan bothy for some rest from the weather.

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Tuesday
A really really really really really windy day up from the Sugarbowl car-park with the intention of heading up to the Chalamaine gap …. again Gertrude had different ideas and after being blown about for less than an hour we had to retreat. A top afternoon spent back at Badaguish honing our slack-line-skills.

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Wednesday
Between groups, and in preparation for the ski group arriving, we headed round to Glen Feshie to recce the slopes for a ski tour on the Thursday. Weather-wise probably the best day of the week – but the hills still very green and lacking in snow. We walked then skinned up onto Carn ban Mor, skinned south to the unnamed top and looked to find some decent snow for the decent.

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Unfortunately the visibility dropped and the descent was ‘adventures in heather’ with only about a total of a hundred meters of quality snow.  Walked to the bus and drove back round to meet the Musselburgh Grammar group who had arrived at Badaguish. Consensus was that for a group too much walking not enough snow to return on Thursday.

Thursday
Our hopes were raised with a bit of fresh snow so we kitted up with ski touring kit and drove up to the Cairngorm top car-park. Our plan was to head across the front of the corries with the hope of joining up some of the remaining old snow patches in Lurchers Gully .

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We spilt into two groups and skinned at first then walked round the front of as far as the Sneachda burn … un-crossable! A detour up the river and across to the bottom of Fiacille of Sneachda got us onto some decent snow to practice uphill kick turns and even a bit of downhill!  Conditions deteriorated though , so after all of the group had been blown over at least once we headed home. Great day out though, some quality Scottish winter ski-touring experienced, and survived.

Friday
Storm Gertrude arrived in earnest. The windiest you can really function walking before you’re blown over is probably 60 or 70mph. That day the top wind-speed recorded on Cairngorm summit was 144mph  – so no way we were going anywhere on the tops in skis! Instead we headed on foot over Meall a Buachaille behind Glenmore.

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Despite snow shower and ferocious high wind-speeds , with the odd ‘blow-you-over’ gusts we just managed to make it over the summit before descending to Ryvoan bothy to thaw-out by the fire.

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And cook damper bread …

IMG_0681An absolutely top day’s “walk on the wild side” and a great end to the week

Thanks very much to Stevie Nelson from ELWorks and Frank Brown from MGS for getting the groups together and helping with the week.

Click here for a slide-show of all of the photos.

Alpine Ski Leader course – 10-17th April 2011

The Alpine Ski Leader (ASL) course is widely recognised by Local Authorities in Scotland as the most appropriate award for skiers taking sole charge of groups in the mountain environment.

The award covers a range of responsibilities including planning, organising, supervising, leading and teaching.

In conjunction with Snowsport Scotland, Interski is running an ASL course in the Aosta Valley, Italy from 10 -17 April 2011.

Instead of an already subsidised price of £879, you now pay just £829.

The course tutor will be Drew Michie, a leading trainer for Snowsport England.

Further details on the course can be found by following this link – http://www.interski.co.uk/asl.php  – or by calling 01623 456333.

Lunch skiing … the results are in!


Click here for a full screen slideshow.

Big thanks to the ELC staff who gave up part of their lunch-hour to try cross-country skiing on Wed, and to donate some money to a great charity. In the end 17 folk turned up, which given the late notice, was excellent.

It was never meant to be a competitive event, but just like school kids at an orienteering event, give someone a dibber and it’ll sharpen their technique and commitment every time. And if you don’t know what a dibber is, click here.

So for those that care about results (which is normally the winners) we have in joint 3rd place with 3mins 30 seconds (yes really) Debra Wright and Paul Ince. But in 1st place, pipping them by just 1 second, was Mr IT, Alan Cruickshank. Thanks again for all who came along.

If you haven’t yet made your donation to Disability Snowsport UK then please visit the Justgiving site here. A couple of pounds for a once-in-a-lifetime experience ‘cmon!