Winter Skills

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 :slight_smile: 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!!


In reply to MM0TAI:

Good luck with your course. Little off topic, but the night temperatures in OH-land are now between -25 C and -40 C. Some kind of arctic conditions there though the wind is not very strong. I wonder if the ski lifts are still running :slight_smile:

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL

In reply to F5VGL:
Actually some of my workmates who are enthusiastic downhill skiers enjoy the cold weathers, since the slopes are not crowded like they are in warmer weathers. The sun is already starting to warm in the afternoon and the skies have been mostly blue for the past week or two, so the conditions look quite nice out there, even when the temperatures are close to -30 C.

Actually it would be a really beautiful weather for SOTA activations as well, as the views in the hills can be quite extraordinary in such a cold weather. It’s just that sitting down, operating the CW key and keeping log can be a bit difficult with such thick mittens that the temperatures require…

Jaakko, OH6FQI

In reply to MM0TAI:

I’m glad you enjoyed the course, Adrian, I’ve heard from others that it is very good. I did a week at the old Glencoe Winter Climbing School under Hamish McInnes back in the 70’s, a fine cold week, totally unforgettable! I particularly remember on day when we completed a gully climb (S-C) and sunbathed on the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan, gradually everybody climbing that day on the Bidean nam Bian range joined us and eventually there were over two dozen climbers basking on the summit! A shame you got the other kind of WX!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:
Well Brian we had a mix of all weathers!!

Monday- Snow and whiteout.
Tuesday- Windy gusting 60Mph
Wednesday- Wet
Thursdays- Glorious Sunshine
Friday- Very windy gusting 80 and really cold windchill

So a mixed bag, but had an excellet time indeed. Heading back down there tommorow for a Sota activation :slight_smile:


In reply to MM0TAI:

Most importantly, are the cakes any good? I always like to judge the quality of a training course by the quality of the cakes. :slight_smile:

I’ll always remember leaning over the balcony (to get phone reception) at Glenmore Lodge trying to order pizza (we picked the one day the bar wasn’t doing food).

Heading up that way next week but suspect I won’t get much chance to play SOTA.

Iain, MM3WJZ

In reply to OH6FQI:

a cold weather. It’s just that sitting down, operating the CW key and
keeping log can be a bit difficult with such thick mittens that the
temperatures require…

I am sometimes pushing the limits for the sport and because it is something not everybody would do. Still I try to do it in a safe way. I do not expect that the others would do the same though :wink:

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL