We do quite a bit of work for the Red Rope on Navigation training and Mountain Skills courses. Recently they asked us to provide a day of winter skills training for some of them during a February club meet in the Cairngorms. They were particularly interested to receive some instruction on security of steep ground (how to safely utilise the crampons and ice axe). We met up at 8 am at their accommodation and after a briefing and discussion on efficient ways of moving as a group we headed off to the ski area on Cairngorm Mountain. The winds were high and as we walked into Coire an t-Sneachda I was concerned that the conditions weren't exactly conducive to learning; our plan was to go to the west flank of the Coire to practice movement skills on the steep ground there. However, due to the wind I decided to switch flank as there is a little knoll that I thought would offer some shelter, it turned out to be a good decision as while we were battered by the wind on the walk in we were completely sheltered for the training element of the day.
We spent the next hour or so going up and down the knoll utilising the crampons in different ways. It was the perfect location, there were a variety of gradients and depths of snow. We covered different stepping techniques and safe ways to walk in a group up a slope as well as ways to stop a slip turning into a slide by using the ice axe correctly. After we had completely churned up the snow on the slope with our repeated ascents we put it all into practice by climbing the slope that makes up the eastern edge of the coire slope to the 1141 spot height. On the way we had a brief stop to take a look at the snow pack and talk a little about the snow layers and avalanche risk. We even found a bit of an icy patch that those who wanted to could have a little climb on.
Once at the spot height we had a chat and rather than just go down they thought their lifts wouldn't mind them being a bit late so we continued up to the top of Cairn Gorm and then back down to the Ski Station.
If you would like to hire us for some winter skills training for you and / or your friends or your Mountaineering club then take a look at our winter skills training pages.