Blog post 10
If you asked me about my abilities in the mountains, I would say that I am experienced and confident in my personal capabilities; however one area that I had less experience in was during winter conditions.
The UK mountains in winter are a very different beast to the same mountains in summer, and the consequences of inexperience or poor decisions are also much greater due to the extreme environment. This was the reason that I first started to look into going on a Winter Skills Course, so that I learned the skills necessary to enjoy these winter conditions.
My research found many suppliers of winter skills courses, which were varying lengths and costs, but it was Mountain Magic www.mountainmagic.org.uk that was the course that most caught my eye for myself and JP, my friend. I made contact with Paul from the organisation and instantly knew that I had made the right decision, as his professional approach shone through. The five day course was £450 and included accommodation, meals, equipment (if required) and professional tuition. Paul sent through a detailed agenda for the week, which even the prospect of got me excited.
The course was based in Glencoe, and upon arriving at the lovely cottage, JP and I, met the other four ‘students’ that would be joining us on the week, Paul, Georgie, Jen and Krysia. There were many different reasons as to why they were attending the course, but ours was to be able to learn the skills to keep us safe in the worst of the UK’s winter conditions.
We also met Paul, the course leader, for the first time, who instantly made us feel very welcome and relaxed – offering us a brew, whilst understanding what we wanted to gain from the experience. The week would cover a multitude of skills, whilst enjoying the beautiful surroundings of the Glencoe mountains, including:
- Preparing for and planning a big mountain day
- Nutritional advice
- Gaining confidence in your equipment
- Navigation and map skills
- Safe use of crampons and ice axe
- Ice axe arrests and how to cease a fall
- Understanding weather forecasts
- Interpreting avalanche reports
- Assessing the snow conditions
- Building snow shelters
Each day we would head out into the mountains, finding a suitable location to practice that days skills, whilst also completing a walk into some of the UK’s most beautiful surroundings. During the week we walked 2 Munros, and would have walked more if the weather had been more kind. Paul was very knowledgeable and answered all our questions, whilst having the patience of a saint! His planning was excellent and depending on the weather and avalanche conditions, had a number of options for us to choose from depending where was safe to walk.
The week was not just about learning skills; obviously that was at the heart of the week, but we learning these skills whilst enjoying good days out in the mountains, which was perfect for me. Paul’s experience and enthusiasm could not be beaten and we had some great conversations/debates along the walks, as he was open and honest and always willing to chat. Our day’s learning didn’t end on the hill, as once he had prepared our evening meal he gave us further talks on navigation, weather and avalanche skills which were very informative.
The group that we were with came from a diverse range of backgrounds and whilst this was the case, we had a real laugh during the week, which made the learning more enjoyable and also some interesting discussions around the dinner table. The group dynamics were very interesting and I think that added to the week, with us sharing contact details to keeping in touch in the future.
I really cannot convey enough how useful I found this course, and Paul made sure that all my learning objectives were met, whilst also gaining a great deal of confidence to be able to go out on our own and enjoy these conditions going forward. I struggle to think that I could have got any more out of the week and can’t recommend this course any more. Mountain Magic, which Paul is a Director of, runs a whole host of courses, which I am sure, are all as enjoyable as the one I have just completed.
A course like this really is a gift that keeps on giving, as these skills will stay with me for the rest of my time and will allow me to hopefully stay safe and enjoy the mountains of the UK. So, even though you may feel very experienced in the mountains, like I did, there is a great deal of value in my opinion of attending a course like this, and with such a good experience at a fantastic price, it is hard to think that you could beat Mountain Magic. I cannot recommend them enough.
Please feel free to contact me, if you have any questions about the course, but have a look at the website for further information.
Thanks again Paul!
Contact him on 07946 331916 to book your course today!