A Winter's Tale

18th Feb 2012

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We are now in the full throws of our winter season - one of my favourite times of the year.  Having said that it's probably also the most challenging part of my working year.  But with certainty I can say it's also the most exciting time to work with clients....both introducing those that are new to the winter environment and to help those with some winter experience to progress their skills.

This year has been typical of a Scottish winter.  Typical only in that it is completely unpredictable!  I always listen with interest as the various forecasters start hypothesising in the lead up to the season...'It will be the coldest winter on record'......'Prolonged arctic conditions expected'.  I've stopped listening too much and, evidently, so has Scotland.  The best strategy here is to see what happens, carefully plan according to the conditions and be ready to go for it when the opportunity arises.  Stay flexible and the Scottish winter will always deliver.

So far this year, as is usual, I've split my time between the Cairngorms and the Western Highlands.  I've had groups out in some gnarly weather and some blue sky days but either way we've had many life affirming days.  There have been clients who have never worn crampons before right through to seasoned campaigners wanting to further hone their already honed skills (if that makes sense?!).  We've dodged blizzards, occasionally battled through blizzards, climbed high, stayed low, climbed gullies, buttresses and ridges and everything in between.

As I write this we await 8 more clients heading up for next weeks 5 day winter skills course.  The snow is currently falling thickly outside the lodge but the week ahead looks very changeable.  No problem.  We'll find plenty of suitable venues, we'll have lots of laughs and the team will leave having learnt lots of new skills.  It's just a good old Scottish Winter.....and it doesn't get better.