Today i was back working with the degree students at West Highland college on their winter practical workshops. Following on from yesterday's skills sessions we opted to go for a bit of a journey to explore the mountains and look at leadership and decision making in real winter conditions. We also wanted to consolidate some of the skills we picked up yesterday.
Starting for blar a' choarainn we headed north along the West Highland way for a short while, looking at timing and pacing briefly, before striking east onto the ridge of meall nan choarainn,during which we looked at group management, walking speeds and ascending tactics to save energy.
Once on the ridge proper we did a little bit of relocating before heading south higher up the ridge in search of a good snow patch. Once we found one, we recapped on our self arrests, practiced some boot work and discussed group safety and decision making.
We then went on a journey, with each of the team leading sections. Conditions deteriorated noticibly,with visibility coming and going. We saw huge debris on the eastern slopes, clearly from a sizable cornice collapse. We also saw some hefty cornices still standing, and discussed tactics of avoiding coming too close to the edge.
Once we located the summit it was time for a quick photo before heading back down the way we had come. Whilst i was deep in discussion with John who was out with us again today, one of the lads led us a bit too far north West, leaving us on the wrong slopes. Typically the cloud rolled in leaving us in all but total white out, so i navved us back on to the ridge and let the guys take over again. Hopefully it was a lesson to them on how easily and quickly you can lose your way!!
Back down to the bus safely just after 4. A great day out on the hill, Kit now all soaking wet!! Well done guys for a fun, educational two days!!