Friday evening and time to make plans for the hills for the weekend. We agreed that Sunday was to be the day, with Mick suggesting the Sgurr nan Conbhairean ridge in Kintail, but from the Glen Affric side. This sounded a good winter day out, taking in three tops and two summits and on a route that was a little different from the norm.
When planning the Team Training and Exercise List for 2008, we had originally hoped to go to Norway for a week's winter training about this time of year. For various reasons, this didn't happen, but as a precursor to a foreign trip in 2009, we decided to organise a week in Scotland, based in the Aviemore/Newtonmore area, allowing us an opportunity to hone up winter skills on a reasonable snow base.
As you may have seen from the "About" page, I hold my Summer Mountain Leader (ML) Award from the Scottish Mountain Leader Training Board. Gaining my Summer ML was supposed to be a good confirmation that I could handle myself out on the hills in Summer. Bit by bit, however, I found myself being drawn to the idea of aiming towards the Winter ML Award. Encouraged by Donald and Mick from the team, who were also considering their Winter ML, so it was that the three of us found ourselves at Glenmore Lodge at the start of the week, contemplating the next six days of training in advance of eventual assessment.
The group of 12 was fairly mixed, but included the usual mix of aspirants and Mountain Rescue Team members (the three of us from Dundonnell MRT, one from Kintail MRT and two from RAF Valley MRT in Wales).From the start of the week, the weather was looking none too optimistic, with high winds forecast. This was one week where the forecasters were absolutely spot on….!! Nothing for it, this was a syllabus course and we were committed to being out on the hills by this stage. For a bit of fun I've plotted out the maximum and mean forecasts for the week. On two occasions during the course, the maximum wind speed reached over 100mph and, as you will see from the account, one week of wind!!
Mid January and the forecast setting fair for the weekend. Sitting at lunch in the office on Friday, looking out of the window, discussing plans and wondering if the weather would hold for the next day…. The skiing, hillwalking and outdoor activities forecasts were all optimistic and there were reports of a bumper day's skiing on Cairngorm that day.