Mountain safety has been a major preoccupation of Mountaineering Scotland since Bill Myles (an early Secretary) said in the 1970s ‘There seem to be too many young people falling out of gullies ‘. The SMT has contributed about £25000 to support this important lifesaving work over the years.
Heather Morning, Mountaineering Scotland’s Mountain Safety Advisor, is based at Glenmore Lodge in normal times, and has been delivering courses (32 in the year before lockdown), lectures and expert advice, for over 10 years.
Heather thinks Mountaineering Scotland’s SMART courses (student mountaineering and rescue training) are at the core of its safety and skills work. Student climbers have been a particular target because they are mostly very keen, but light on experience, and are likely to be heading for adventures in the greater ranges. That is why these courses have earned regular support from the Trust.
The November 2018 SMART course was typical. From 13 Scottish universities, 75 students signed up for two days and evenings at the Lodge. Two 6-hour practical sessions – with a choice of rock climbing, general mountain skills and mountain first aid and rescue – were backed up by discussion groups and lectures. And the bar! The fee for the student was kept down to £75, through a grant from the SMT for £2100, while the staff worked for free and the Lodge discounted accommodation costs.
Also earning support have been winter climbing weekends at Mill Cottage in Feshiebridge. For 14 students with leading roles in their climbing clubs, and with a student: staff ratio of 2:1, these have aimed squarely to ensuring our future climbers have the skills they need to operate safely. A Trust contribution of £2100 kept the course fee down to £100.
Over the winter of 2020/21, Covid has had an “absolutely devastating” effect on the courses, and the instructors. It has driven the Mountaineering Scotland winter skills and safety training on-line.
Following the publication of the recent timetable for easing COVID restrictions Mountaineering Scotland say: ‘We are aiming to restart our mountain skills courses from May and will start taking bookings as soon as we have confirmed dates and locations’.
In the meantime the webinars Heather and her colleagues ran over the winter were a sell-out. At the time of writing these ones were showing on YouTube:
- Autumn skills for the hills Q&A
- Intro to winter mountaineering>
- Winter mountaineering and avalanche awareness
- Ski touring Scotland – ask the experts Q&A:
More information about the courses run by Mountaineering Scotland can be found at https://www.mountaineering.scot/safety-and-skills/courses-and-events/courses.