Adventure Education in the Cairngorms
5 of our cadets, aged 15 to 17, and 2 instructors attended a winter exercise centered around the Cairngorms National Park during February half term 2018. For some pupils the experience introduced them to the challenges of travelling in a winter mountain environment and for others it extended their existing experience and included graded winter climbing.
The expedition was supported by The Ulysses Trust who provide encouragement, advice and financial support for challenging expeditions undertaked by the Volunteer Reserve and Cadet Forces.
The first few days involved the group using the hills around the Drumochter area to wake up winter legs and get used to moving around in the very snowy conditions with and without crampons. Snow conditions were very stable throughout the exercise and the group enjoyed a full winter's day on each outing with only one 'dreich' day (a combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather!) where everyone tested snow anchors to destruction in Corrie Sneachda in the Cairngorms.
The highlight for 4 pupils was engaging in winter climbing involving twin axes, ropes and crampons. From here a pair of our boys ascended a variation of Twin Ribs in the Cairngorms and a pair of our girls ascended the scenic and long Jacobs Edge in Corrie Sneachda. The girls in particular had a fantastic day out in cold, windless, sunny conditions and found themselves in steep snowy terrain surrounded by other groups of climbers. This was made even better by the warmth (vaguely) of the sunshine as they emerged at the top of the 250m route giving a breathtaking panorama of the vastness of the Scottish winter mountain landscape.
The expedition tested and developed our young cadets physically and mentally. Not only did they cope with and learn skills needed to operate in snow covered mountains, they also came together as a team off the hill. What an amazing experience!