Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These Conditions Reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Summer Mountain Leader assessment courses have a three day expedition in wild, remote mountains to test the candidates leadership, navigation and camping skills. It is an assessment of the whole package as mountain leaders. These last three days were certainly quite testing and the candidates all did a fantastic job.

We went to Lochailort to walk over Roisbheinn and Drium Fiaclach with two nights out in high wild camps. The first day was quite nice with amazing views out to the islands of Eigg and Rhum. We had a bit of mist on the top of Roisbheinn but it stayed dry all day and for the night navigation as well.

Then it started raining. It rained all the second day, into the evening and for most of the second night. Streams were swollen, the ground was saturated and everything got really quite soggy! Thankfully our route was a brilliant ridge with very narrow sections and excellent views (apparently). Druim Fiaclach west ridge in particular demands careful route choice and some movement over rocky sections in exposed positions.

Camping out for two successive nights is much more than twice as tricky than camping out for one night. If anything is wet after the first night it will be very wet after the second night. The candidates (and assessors) were very well tested!

Thankfully my Jottnar gear was up to the challenge as were the candidates. They all worked very hard and put in a great performance. They will all go on to be excellent mountain leaders.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Day two of the West Highland College Summer ML Assessment took us to the East Face of Aonach Dubh. We were looking for steep, broken ground on which we could look at route choice, group management, and safeguarding people with and without a rope. We went to the small coire between Barn Wall and Far Eastern Buttress and we found plenty of interesting terrain.

There have been a couple of changes to the Summer Mountain Leader Syllabus in the last year or so including removing the use of ropes in stream crossings and the requirement to lower people down very steep crags. Instead we looked at safeguarding people on ground they could scramble down themselves. We did some abseiling too. However the use of a rope in the context of a Summer Mountain Leader is only in an emergency. Hopefully the candidates will manage to avoid emergencies in the future once they are qualified.

Monday, 18 May 2015

In a contrast to yesterday, today I started a Summer Mountain Leader Assessment course with students at West Highland College. The first day covers all sorts of things such as navigation, what equipment to carry, managing incidents and medical problems, improvised carries, stream crossings and lots of regulations and administrative details regarding mountain leading. It was a cool day with showers falling as snow above 900m!