In 2007 I went on a course that gave me the confidence and knowledge I needed to start exploring mountains in winter conditions. Years later, I decided I wanted to advance my skills and learn how to move over more difficult winter terrain. That’s why, last week, I went back to Glenmore Lodge, the Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre, to do a winter mountaineering course.
Me in Coire na Ciste on my first day of the course.
Bill the instructor walking across Coire na Ciste.
Descending a ridge above Coire na Ciste at the end of the first day.
Me digging a bucket seat for belaying.
The group walking up Aonach an Nid.
The Anoach Mor ski area.
Bill teaching Sam and Conor movement skills on the slopes of Aonach an Nid.
Bill giving Conor tips on digging a bucket seat.
I never thought I would deliberately stand on a cornice, but here I’m knocking a cornice down so that I can practice descending the edge.
Having kicked a lump of cornice off, I’m now descending the edge while being belayed by Bill.
Bill and Conor walking up Fiacaill Coire an t’Sneachda.
Me practising abseiling off a snow bollard I had made.
Me abseiling down a section of Fiacaill Coire an t’Sneachda.
Me in a bucket seat that I had dug and attached to a buried axe.
This course gave me an improved understanding of how to read the mountain environment and so make better judgments on the safest route. I’ve looked at avalanche and weather forecasts in the past before going out in winter, but the instructors gave these more depth and meaning by teaching how they related to the landscape I was going through. They emphasised being attentive and pointed out how to spot clues in the snow conditions under foot and in how the snow changed with the terrain. Read more