Sunday 21 March 2010

Edinburgh University Winter Hills and Mountains

I've been away for 5 days working for the Edinburgh University MSc/PGDip in Outdoor Education Course. The course is loosely programmed alpong the lines of a Winter Mountain Leader Training course and based out of Kingussie takes place in the Cairngorms. The 12 students are from a wide range of backgrounds and levels of experience. However all were super keen, intelligent and well motivated asking good questions and looking at the wider picture of winter mountaineering in the Cairngorms (the environment, the landscape and human pressures) rather than simply the technical skills. The first couple of days were spent on basics- footwork, use of the axe, crampons, self belay and self arrest- in thaw conditions and an increasing wind. Friday saw gales and we spent some time using transceivers and probes to search for 'casualties' and looking at the use of the rope to protect steep snow slopes and edges. Over the weekend we travelled up to Ciste Mhearad where the team dug (maybe that should be chipped) a number of palatial snowholes. Overnight we navigated around Cairngorm for a while before an early start to return out poo pots and head for home in much better weather.

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