The Lifecycle of a Winter Skills Course....

24th Nov 2015


Coming on a winter course is a big decision for people to take.  We know that.  We want to make it as much fun as possible while also ensuring it is relaxed and stress free - participants are on holiday after all!  We have added details about course content to the website, but some recent feedback from a skills group suggested they would like to know more information on what to expect before booking.  So here goes.....

It is handy if we can get the group together on the evening before the course starts but, with some people travelling long distances (and often after work), this doesn't always happen.  So, if it isn't possible we just say hi to the early arrivals, let them settle in and enjoy the ambience of Aviemore and then arrange to get everyone together on the following morning.  

So, if we haven't met the evening before we'll get together after breakfast and chat through what equipment the team need to pack for the day.  We'll also fit any hire boots, adjust crampons and dish out other technical equipment.  We also want to start building up the team's knowledge of weather and avalanche risk so we have a look at the Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) forecast and relevant weather forecasts including the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) forecast and, crucially, we'll discuss how it relates to our plans for the day.

A short drive to the mountains and we are on our way.  The itinerary for each day is kept very flexible as this helps us to make the best use of conditions and weather.  Having said that, on day one we aim to make sure there has been plenty of use made of ice axes and crampons, input on avalanche risk and plenty of navigation practice.  In reality, there will be a host of other stuff covered too.  Winter days whizz by and all too soon we are heading back to base with glowing faces, plenty of photos and, hopefully, great mountain tales to share.

Inevitably there will be some wet kit, but it only takes a few minutes to stick that in the drying room.  After that, it's a welcome shower, fresh clothes and dinner.  We keep our winter accommodation very flexible and there are options for self-catering and prepared meals.  Take your pick.  

Once dinner is out of the way we'll get together for an interest talk on a related topic such as avalanche avoidance.  These aren't heavy handed lectures though - they are a concise look at relevant avalanche information to support the practical teaching on the hill.  

The following morning we head off for another action packed hill day.  There will be plenty of time to consolidate the skills developed yesterday, but we'll also pack in plenty of new learning too.  Emergency snow shelters, snow belays (for relevant groups) and more input on avalanche avoidance may all be part of the day.  Alongside that, we'll chat about Scottish wildlife, share info on equipment, chat about navigation, weather, nutrition and a host of other related topics.  

If you are with us a 2 day course arrival back at the accommodation will be the end of your course.  We'll sort out kit with you and , if you are leaving that evening, say our goodbyes.  Many people choose to stay for another evening so they can travel fresh the next morning.  If that's the case you are welcome to join our evening activities.  Either way, hopefully you'll leave feeling prepared for many more winter adventures in the future.  

For course attendees who have chosen the 3 day option then there is still their mountain journey day to look forward too.  It also means there is the famous Peak Mountaineering winter quiz to contend with on the second evening (for those that want to attend).  All aspects of your winter knowledge will be tested and the only prize is the knowledge that you a star winter performer - but what prize could be better!

For the mountain journey day we'll also have a planning session.  Using the weather and avalanche forecasts combined with your new found navigation and winter skills, we'll plan a suitable winter day to enjoy as a finale to the course.  With an expert instructor watching over you, you'll be able to plan and execute a great day out and again our hope is that you'll leave the weekend feeling prepared and empowered to return and have many more adventures.  

Like our two day clients, some attendees head home after the day while others prefer to have another relaxing evening at the accommodation before heading back the next morning.  Either way, the rosy cheeks and happy memories will live you long after the course finishes.

Posted by Cal