The final week of my Scottish winter season involved lots of different groups (and weather). Starting out east I had a day winter climbing with Russ for Cairngorm Adventure Guides. Marching up into Coire an t-Sneachda out of the cloud inversion was spectacular and Aladdins gav e a great introduction to the vertical winter world. Topping out into the sunshine the obvious descent was over the top of Cairngorm to delay our inevitable descent back into the cloud for as long as possible.
Next up was a weekend of winter mountaineering with Justin. Once again thick cloud was blanketing Fort William but up on the Ben it was blue skies and zero wind. We popped into the sunlight at the CIC hut and a full days climbing up Ledge Route and around the CMD arete was just about perfect. The next day was nearly as good and we made a quick ascent of Stob Coire Nan Lochan and Bidean nan Bam descending by the Lost Valley. It had taken Justin 4 attempts to tick this Munro but it was worth the wait.
My final couple of days were out with a team of sport scientists from Leeds Beckett University. They're undertaking high altitude research on some willing volunteers from the "British Services Dhaulagiri Medical Research Expedition 2016" We looked at winter and general expedition skills while climbing both the Ben and Buachaille with a couple of hours of heavy rain bringing my season to a traditional close!
Todays entertainment was provided by a bunch of enthusiastic medics undertaking a weeks training in the Lake District with Expedition Medicine. The company provides worldwide medical training courses for medical professionals, wilderness medics and for individuals providing advanced medical coverage in remote areas.
The focus of the day was on the technical skills required to operate safely in the mountains in support of their extensive medical knowledge and closely followed the Summer Mountain Leader syllabus. We headed up onto the slopes and small crags above Derwent Water Hostel to look at the various options available to a leader on steep ground - coaching, spotting, supporting, confidence roping, pitching and abseiling. We also spent a bit of time looking at the few practical options availablefor medivacing a casualty with limited numbers and equipment. Finally navigation focused on relating the map to the ground and the importance of scale as not all the maps they'll be using in the future are as detailed and accurate as Ordanance Survey.
Four big days exploring the imposing bulk of the Torridon mountains. The weeks entertainment included a full traverse of Liathach in deep snow and a white out, A'Cioch Nose in slightly better conditions, a full traverse of Beinn Eighe in the sunshine and a wet and wintery blast up Slioch.