6 club members travelled to Aviemore recently to complete a winter skills course under the expert instruction of Steve Holmes from Vertical Fever
Steve met the guys on the Friday night so he could brief them on what to expect on the Saturday and Sunday and it quickly became clear that the weather was going to be “challenging” to say the least, but in true WLMC style everyone was well up for it. Steve spend the best part of an hour going over crampon fitting. A home made chicken curry and a quick beer and it was off for an early night before the fun and games on Saturday.
Saturday saw us all fed, watered and booted and suited by 8.00am ready to head up onto the Cairngorm plateau. Steve had decided that we would head off into Coire na Ciste and look for some good snow to play on. The weather forecast did not let us down – it was windy and snowing with the wind gusting up to 40mph which meant a pretty serious wind chill factor. We made steady time into the coire with Steve stopping along the way to explain much needed winter skills such as navigation, snow composition and breaking trail.
Steve had also spotted a good slope which was banked out with snow and so we headed that way. Once we got there to the foot of the slope, Steve got folk to get their crampons and helmets on ready for some training on safe movement over more difficult terrain. This was the moment that members understood what it meant to try and tie crampons onto boots wearing “big gloves”. Once folk had geared up Steve led them off and soon had them walking with confidence on an ever steeping slope and it wasn’t long before Beth was leading the team like a veteran.
The group covered a range of skills including some ice axe arrests before arriving back at the vehicles after a solid 7+ hours on the mountain in pretty demanding weather conditions. Saturday night was spent enjoying a home made chilli and a couple of beers whilst members basked in the glory of great day on the mountain.
Another early kick off on Sunday say the group head out onto the Cairngorm plateau from the ski centre. This time Steve was keen for the group to put their hard earned skills to good use so he headed off into Coire an Sneachda so that the group could negotiate some steep group and try to get some more ice axe arrests in, although this proved difficult because the snow was wet and soft so not ideal for throwing yourself down. After refining their skills, the group headed off towards the summit of Cairngorm which was a great bonus. They then headed back towards the car park after another 7+ hour day, although the weather was somewhat more benign on the Sunday.
This was an excellent weekend during which members came away with a range of skills that will let them enjoy the hills and mountains throughout winter – Steve even pointed out some graded winter routes which one or two are keen to have a pop at.