Its that time of year again where the SOTA Winter Bonus is available and i thought i’d share my experience of doing a winter skills course last week.
I’d been think of doing some form of course for a while, when i picked up a leaflet at my local mountaineering store. The courses were for Glenmore Lodge in the heart of the Cairngorms, just outside Aviemore. They all looked tempting but i opted for 5 Days Winter Skills. Even from the word GO it was a pleasure to deal with their staff, i confirmed over the telephone 1st to see what dates were available the used their online booking system. Swiftly i received an email back stating it was confirmed and a helpful .PDF stating what the basic equipment i should have, and also what they had in stock that i could loan if i wished.
I thought it was a funny time to check in, 7pm on a Sunday night. However i turned up and was shown my room, which i was to share with another chap doing the same course as me. The store room opened up at 8pm to get any of those items that i did not have. There was a reasonable selection of stuff but i only opted for a lovely pair of black diamond crampons. Later in the week i tried out a Marmot outer shell and a 40L bag. Also met quite a few of the people that were on my course as well others doing more technical courses.
With breakfast at 7am it was an early and restless night, it took me a few days to settle into an unfamiliar bed. Breakfast was the same each morning, a full english, or cereals or toast etc all on offer. At this time you also pick up a selection of food your daily packed lunch. Rolls, cake, fruit, chocolate etc etc and any liquids, no alcohol…HIHI.
The course started with meeting the group and instructors. Pleasantly suprised to find that we had 3 instructors for 6 “students”. We quickly had a chat and got ready to go up the hill. But disaster…it started to snow of all things As the road up to the ski center was closed we went in for a hike up. Which proved a good warm up!! The rest of the week, we were taken up using the lodges’ transit’s.
The course content for the week was mainly about developing movement skills on the slopes, with good foot work, crampon techniques, use of ice axe for self arrest, cutting steps, aiding stability on steeper slopes. Winter navigation, avalanche avoidance. So a lot to cover in just 5 days.
I had a really good time and learned alot. I can fully recommend Glenmore if you are thinking of getting some training under your belt.
So now its time for me to get out and practice what ive learned!!