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Our Winter Mountaineering Weekend

We began our trip at 4:30 in the evening, going on a 3 and a half hour drive all the way to Glencoe with Mr Greenwood, Mr Bisset and Mr Rowlands. The rain and wind on the journey did not bode well, but we were undeterred. When we arrived at the hostel, we all got our rooms and made ourselves comfortable. The group was spilt into 3 teams: A; B and C. Each team had their time to make tea, breakfast and clean up after our meals. Our first night consisted mostly of social activities and preparing for the next day, quickly eating up our tea and enjoying a bit of free time before bed.

Our first morning went by very quickly: we all ate breakfast and made our lunches by 7:30am and were ready to leave by 8:30. We met our instructors at another hostel nearby, where we gathered all the equipment we needed for our mountaineering; large boots to keep us warm and secure on the wintry terrain, paired with the crampons we were to use on any icy slopes we might encounter, an ice axe to prevent any unexpected slides, a shovel for constructing emergency shelters, and a wind & water-proof bag to keep all our snacks and equipment safe and dry. We would be directed by Andy, Mikey and Gill, our instructors for the weekend, who would guide us and teach us the necessary skills. Our optimism from the previous evening was rewarded and the weather proved much better than forecast, even allowing us to use the chairlifts at the Glencoe Mountain Resort in order to get to the snowline more quickly. After tirelessly climbing for 3-4 hours we reached the top of Meall a’ Bhùiridh (pronounced Mel a Vury) - at 1108 metres - and celebrated our group achievement.

duke of edinburgh mountain axes

After this exciting day we went back down the mountain and headed back to hostel where we arrived around 5pm. After an hour or so of rest, we made tea and the rest of the day consisted of a few board games - some of which became fiercely competitive!- after which we went to bed to be ready and pumped (‘stoked’ as our guide, Mikey, would say) for the next morning.

Our second and final morning started like the day before. From the car park at the foot of the mountain, we started to head up hill in the start of a soon-to-become snow storm. After lots of effort from all of us, we took a break at 800m altitude and ate our snacks. Then after about 10minutes, we donned our crampons for the first time and practiced walking with them, learning the different techniques. With these new skills mastered we set our eyes on the 925m high summit we still had to reach. This time the conditions got a bit more difficult since the snowfall had increased dramatically.

duke of edinburgh climbing snow

This increased snowfall had an obviously positive effect on Mikey (one of our instructors), who used the word snowgasm to describe his enjoyment! After another 45minutes of climbing and we finally reached the summit of Stob Coire Raineach (pronounced Stob Corrie Rannoch) and our goal for the day. We celebrated this with another 10-15minutes break and the knowledge that we would be heading downhill all the way to the bus!

After 2hours of going downhill we reached the bus and headed back to Merchiston, with a quick stop in Callander for fish and chips and haggis suppers.

Special thanks go to Mr Greenwood, Mr Bisset and Mr Rowlands who all made this trip most enjoyable for us.

Robin, LVI