Winter ML Review 2013

Winter navigation

Winter Season 2012/2013

The winter of 2012/2013 has been one of the longest and most memorable for many seasons. After a slow start it began to become increasingly snowier and windier. This helped put down a good snow base albeit with periods of high avalanche risk. After a short but brutal thaw followed by a rapid re-freeze Scotland experienced some of the best climbing conditions for a long time.

However these conditions did have a downside. Due to the depth of snow many parts of Scotland had an inherently weak snowpack which often contrasted markedly with very hard and icy underfoot snow conditions. In short for those old enough to remember these things this was a winter like we used to have.

For MTS Winter ML Providers this turned out to be a very good year:

  • In 2012 MTS Winter ML Providers trained and assessed 231 candidates (159 on Training; 72 on Assessment).
  • In 2013 they trained and assessed 330 candidates (174 on Training; 156 on assessment)

an increase of 30%.


There is still heavy snow cover in the Cairngorms and climbing being done on Ben Nevis so for Scottish based climbers winter is still front and centre although not a few are thinking wistfully of sun baked rock…

Winter ML review


Ice axe brake


Mountain Training Scotland (MTS) began the review of the Winter ML Award, it’s Syllabus and Guidance notes in late 2012 with stakeholders including the wider mountaineering public being asked for their views in early January 2013.

MTS received comments and feedback from a variety of sources including:
  • Eighteen individuals who currently hold the Winter ML or higher award, some of whom are members of Mountain Training Association (MTA) including candidates who have recently completed their Winter ML training.
  • Providers, Course Directors, trainers and assessors involved in providing Winter ML courses.
  • Stakeholder organisations including the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the Adventure Activities Licensing Service, Mountain Rescue of England and Wales (MREW) and the Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS).
George McEwan, the Executive Officer of MTS has collated all the responses and has created several documents which highlight the proposed options for the MTS Board to consider at their next meeting on the 30th May 2013. The documents can be downloaded below. If you have problems accessing them please contact MTS direct who can arrange for you to access them in a suitable format.



To ensure the received comments and suggestions have been accurately reflected MTS invite further and final comment on the attached proposals and supporting documentation.

For any changes to the syllabus the proposed changes would first have to be approved by the MTS Board. If successful this would then have to go to the UK Board for ratification and approval. At that point changes could be implemented. The plan is to have any changes in place for the Autumn – December 2013 at the latest. To have any changes to the Winter ML scheme enabled for the 2013/2014 winter season any proposed changes would have to be with the Scottish Board for the Board meeting in May 2013. The next UK Board meeting is in June 2013 thus allowing time to implement any agreed/approved changes for the Winter of 2013/14.

To meet this timeline MTS would need any comments on the attached documents by the 6th May to ensure the MTS Board receive the updated documents in time for the Board meeting. So please ensure your comments have been emailed to the MTS Executive Officer, George McEwan – george@mountain-training.org - by this date.

Winter walking.2