Thursday, 16 December 2010

Counting down to Winter 2011 in Scotland

Well, winter has already arrived here in the Lake District with us now being into our second really cold snap so far. We have aleady been told that it is the coldest winter recorded this early for 17 years.

Iain Gallagher (pictured right) remembers when, as a kid, this weather, here in the Lake District, was the norm. It used to arrive in November and the snow would creep down the mountains into the valleys and there it would stay until the end of March and often, on the mountains, well into May!

Iain welcomes the return of this cold weather which transforms the whole of the UK into a winter wonderland and makes a visit into the mountains even more of an adventure. Make sure you are prepared for the winter conditions by attending one of Kendal Mountaineering services Winter courses this year.

Iain is going to be based in Fort William from Early January and will be on hand to arrange your winter adventure. Let us know what you want to do and we'll arrange a course to suit your needs. Remember we do not add VAT to our prices so, if the thought of that 2.5% VAT hike is putting you off booking your winter adventure - then contact us or call Iain on 07761 483364.

Being based in the Fort William area gives scope for all sorts of great winter climbing and whether you want to be guided up some classic winter routes or already climb in Summer but want to be able to do it in Winter - then we can find a suitable venue in the area for you.

Local to Fort William, we have Ben Nevis - Britain's highest mountain, with many classic lines of all grades to choose from. Aonach Mor is close by with many great routes on its east and west faces and a little further south we have Glen Coe with many classic climbs to choose from.

Of course, you might want to do your climbing course in the Cairngorms - such as the people in this second photograph. This is not a problem - it's not far away from Fort William and Iain will happily arrange winter climbing, mountaineering or winter skills courses for you there - in fact we are running a course there at the end of February. Check out details of the courses on offer that week here and you can view pictures from the last winter skills courses here.

Photograph 3 shows a team of people practising the ice axe braking position on last year's very successful winter skills course. This is an essential skill if you are going into the mountains in winter and is only one aspect of our two day course during which you learn about kicking/cutting steps, crampon use, avalance prediction, the building of snow shelters and basic ropework and belaying techniques.

Ice axe braking can be an exhilarating experience when taught in a safe environment as was the case shortly after the above shot was taken - learn the techniques with us and be safer in the winter mountains as a result!

Not everyone wants to learn about winter climbing immediately (or at all!) but often people want to make a progression in that general direction.
The party seen here had attended winter skills courses and had tried guided climbing, but this time they wanted some coaching in the techniques of winter mountaineering (winter scrambling).
On a winter mountaineering day, you will use all techniques learnt during a winter skills course but the rope comes out more as you will be on terrain where the consequenses of a slip could be serious and the nature of the ground may be such that ice axe braking may not stop you before you become airborne!
Bucket seat belays as well as snow, ice and rock anchors are all likely to be looked at and used on one of these days out. On this occasion, the route was Ledge Route on Ben Nevis although many other good mountaineering routes exist such as Curved Ridge or Dorsal Arete in Glen Coe, Golden Oldy on the West Face of Aonach Mor or the Faicaille Coire an T Sneachda in the Cairngorms.
The possibilities are endless for your winter adventures in Scotland this season. Contact us and we will put together a package that improves your ability and confidence in this great environment and we'll take you into some of the best places to learn, too! Your winter skills course will be run either by Iain or another holder of the Winter Mountainwalking Leader's Certificate. People wishing to be guided up winter scrambles or winter climbs will be working with full holders of the Mountaineering Instructor's Certificate.
Keep an eye on our blog over the coming months and follow Iain's adventures - either climbing for pleasure or working with clients. Its going to be fun!

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