Mountain Training Associaton Winter Weekend in Scotland

Winter weekend 2015 1 This year I attended my first Mountain Training Association (MTA) meet, the Winter Weekend hosted at the Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms. The weekend was designed to provide Mountain Training Association members with workshops and evening lectures to develop skills, technique and knowledge relating to the winter mountain environment.

I was particularly interested joining the weekend to help with preparing for the winter part of the International Mountain Leader (IML) award. I wanted a refresher, to develop my skills, network and socialise with like minded people and I wasn't disappointed

On Saturday morning after a scrumptious breakfast, we were briefed by Nigel Williams, Head of Training at the Lodge. We were then introduced to our instructors. I signed up to the Winter Navigation workshop which was run by Mick Hunter. We headed out on a days walk in the Cairngorms. Mick focused on winter pacing, looking at the weather, navigation techniques that are suited for winter walking and he provided some great top tips which i'll definitely adopt. We then regrouped at 5pm for tea, delicious cake and a review with Mick. For me it was great, I was able to brush up and fine tune winter navigation skills.

In the evening Nigel Williams provided a lecture on navigation which was highly insightful. Ater, to top off an already great day we were treated to a specuial Burns night supper - kilts, bagpipes, haggis and whisky! It was a fantastic feast and a great social evening.

After the meal, we had a lecture about avalanches which was hosted by the Chris Walker Trust and the talk was given by Keith Miller who is a fountain of knowledge and is a forecaster for the Scottish Avalanche Information Service, especially on avalanches. He provided great advice and guidance to us.

On Sunday morning after breakfast, Belinda gave a Mountain Training Association update. This included a walk through the updates on the Candidate Management System to support the Continued Personal Development policy, a discussion about the Professional Mountaineer and up and coming events which was really useful to us all.

Winter weekend 2015 2 I then joined Andy Townsend's group, Safe Travel. It was a fantastic workshop focusing on weather, avalanches, route planning, route choices and leadership techniques in winter conditions. We were treated to typical Cairngorm weather, -5 (-20 with wind chill) and 50-80mph gusts...it was all good fun and it certainly blew away the cobwebs and I was just grinning from ear to ear. I learnt a lot from Andy who is a British Mountain Guide and an International Mountain Leader assessor. Back at the centre with glowing cheeks we reviewed the day over tea and cake, we all said our thanks, goodbyes and people departed.

It was a superb weekend. The Mountain Training Association and the Glenmore Lodge team gave me a wonderful welcome and a great experience. I certainly gained new techniques, skills and made new friends.

Sian Sykes

A qualified Mountain Leader, trained International Mountain Leader and the co-founder of Psyched Adventures based in North Wales.

Andy Townsend will be running a Avalanche Awareness workshop for members on Saturday 21 February.