Good conditions on last weeks Winter Mountain Leader (WML) Assessment for candidates but the winter as a whole has been challenging physically, mentally, psychologically, the recurring theme of strong winds, dealing with the day to day decisions regarding, planning, avalanche risk, keeping clients safe, educating and generally providing a good service! Big thanks to Giles for not only guiding me through the week as course director and providing a good assessment for candidates but also treating me to steak 🥩in the snow hole.😁
The last 3 days have been spent on expedition in and around the Moine Mhor or also known as the graveyard by some candidates. This area sits high to the West side of the Lairig Ghru and includes Braeraich. Amazing snow cover and weather, some of the weather not quite conducive to be testing navigation but that is sometimes how it goes.
Day 1, we walked in to some known and used snowhole areas, the 1st was flat, no snow banks for digging into. The 2nd area, about 1km away came up trumps with a nice steep wall of over 3m deep snow, perfect for digging into. After about 3hrs of digging we had a home for the next couple of days. Some of the candidates who had split into small teams took up to 5hrs, so after a late dinner we decided night navigation would have to wait.
Day 2 dawned cold and bright. We spent the day in 2 teams, navigating over the Moine Mhor, Braeriach and Carn Toul, a long day with lots of individual leadership and navigational legs for the candidates in mostly clear conditions but we did get the odd piece of cloud cover which gave us "whiteout" conditions. We arrived back at the snow holes around 5pm. After dinner and a bit of relaxation the candidates were back out for a couple of hours from 9pm on night navigation. I finally got into my sleeping bag around midnight, a long day.
Day 3, Giles and I had seen enough from the clients navigating so the morning was spent walking to the bus at Achlean carpark as one big group, clients leading a leg each. Lunch and results, no surprises, that's the way it should be on assessment.