By Gabbi Armstrong
Communications Project Manager for the North Coast 500
Published: 15th October 2018

Winter Skills Course

Photo: Liquid Footprints

The winter walking season is fast approaching and snow is already landing on the summits. This change in the seasons brings about different challenges than walking during the summer and if you are heading up high then you will also need to carry some extra equipment such as an ice axe and crampons. For some they may use these skills year in year out but for others their ice axe arrest may be a bit a rusty or for others this may be all new to them and that’s where a weekend Winter Skills Courses comes in really handy.

Chris Wilson is a Winter Mountain Leader based in Dingwall. Through his small family business, Liquid Footprints, he runs a number of outdoor activities throughout the year. Chris has years of experience of guiding and running winter skills courses throughout the winter period. Find out more below!

Itinerary

Friday night is meet and greet. We will spend time fitting crampons and going through personal kit. There will be loads of time for questions and we will have a chat about what everyone wants to get out of the course so that come Saturday we are ready to make the most of the two days

Saturday morning sees us heading into the hills. We will find a safe location to start working on the fundamentals. We will focus on moving in snow, using crampons and how to travel in them. Safe methods of moving across solid snow and ice whilst incorporating your ice axe. We work on ice axe arrest and different methods of stopping, all in a safe area with plenty of time to stop and ask questions. We will also look at how the snow on the hill is made up and how this can impact on the likely hood of an avalanche, we will incorporate this into how the weather then gets involved in the equation and bring all these factors together to give you a much more rounded knowledge base for future trips. At the end of the day we will then take in the hills with a walk giving us all a chance to savour this amazing landscape.

Photo: Liquid Footprints

Sunday is a much more moving day. Whereas Saturday was a outside classroom environment, Sunday will be very much a travelling and learning day. We will of course be coming back to the previous days lessons with plenty of time to refresh our learning but we will also be taking the chance to focus on some new skills. This will include winter navigation and how it may differ in the winter, survival and first aid skills and how to use the snow to your advantage should the worst happen and also looking at how to move on steep ground. Incorporate all of this into a travel day and we have the makings of a fantastic day on the hill.

Summary

None of us like going back to school but this time the classroom is of your choosing. Winter walking, especially up on the hills is a very different world to the summer time and being safe has everything to do with your skills and prior knowledge. Spending just a weekend of your time will not only keep you safe but will also enable you to expand your opportunities for adventure in the winter environment.

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