I've just got back from Scotland having run a winter mountaineering skills trip with some of my sixth formers. It's a full on course, particularly when the 14hr minibus drive is taken into account, 6am jog and dip in the Loch, full days, indoor ice climbing in evening etc.
What was particularly challenging on this trip though was the marginal snow conditions causing some serious avalanche risk questions. On the way up on Thursday we heard another 3 climbers had been killed in an avalanche in the Cairngorms. It is always tragic of course but the recent deaths have not been weekend warriors getting out of their depth but seasoned mountaineers who were unlucky or didn't quite get the assessment quite right. I.e. it could have been any of use. Being in charge of a group of young people this was a strong reminder of the real risks and the constant rolling assessment we had to perform on the hill took its toll. To cut a long story short we opted to camp in tents rather than snow hole. We were worried this would be a disappointment to the group and the temptation to make it happen was playing on our minds.
As it happened with injuries and so forth camping at the foot of Creag Meagaidh was perfect. I had barely got my tent up before the students had started to make a snow wall, snow balls, snow angels and a great escape style snow tunnel!
A first for me was tasting freshly made ice cream from friend and colleague, Jenny. Using her Science teacher skills before we knew it she was mixing the ingredients in one freezer bag whilst dropping the temperature of the ice with salt in another. After about 20mins of mixing when I emerged from the snow tunnel, hey presto, soft scoop ice cream!!
I have a habit of finding adventure just about anywhere. Here I share some of them with you dear readers...