Winter Climbing Performance Seminar

Over the weekend of the 22 ? 24th February 2002 over forty climbers from all over the UK, hosted by fifteen of the UKs? top climbing Instructors and Guides, took part in the 2nd Gore Tex Scottish Winter climbing Performance Seminar, based at Glenmore Lodge The National Outdoor Training Centre. They were there to share ideas, develop technical and psychological skills and expand their knowledge of the unique and world renowned experience that is Scottish winter climbing. In addition to financially supporting the seminar Gore Tex also sponsored six free places for younger climbers aged 18 ? 25 years as part of an initiative called the Gore Tex Fabrics Young Performance Winter Climbers. Thanks to the weather being very cooperative the climbers were able to experience all that is challenging and satisfying in Scottish winter climbing with two very dissimilar, but immensely satisfying days. Saturday had the most challenging weather with blizzards, 60 mph winds and sub zero temperatures, whilst Sunday dawned cold clear and bright with hardly a breath of wind and superb blue skies. On the Saturday the bad weather led to a delay in the ski road opening up to allow access to the Cas car park. It was open for just enough time to allow all the climbing teams to access the hill, when the blizzard like conditions promptly closed the road again for most of the day. All the climbing action was centred on the Performance Winter Climbing courses. Hosted by some of the most well known names in the winter climbing scene, such as Johnny Baird, Rich Cross, Andy Cunningham, John Lyall, Scott Muir, Andy Nisbet, Mike Pescod, Al Powell, and Ollie Saunders, eighteen climbers developed their personal mixed climbing skills on high standard mixed climbs in the Northern Corries of Cairngorm. It was indicative of the high levels of enthusiasm and skill, that despite challenging conditions over twenty climbs at grade IV.5 and above were made. Included in this action were the Gore Tex Fabrics Young Performance Winter Climbers. All of them were well up for whatever climbs were on the cards. Two of them, Ian and Sam, climbing with Scott Muir experienced performance with a capital P when over the two days they climbed No Blue Skies VI.7 and a second ascent of The Truncator VI.7. Whilst some teams were being coached at the sharp end, another team of trainee instructors were working with Glenmore Lodge instructors, Stevie Blagbrough and George McEwan, on teaching and coaching winter climbing, including mixed climbing, to novice climbers. Also based around the Lodge were the Glacier Travel and Crevasse rescue sessions. Over the two one day sessions eight climbers, with aspirations to climb in alpine areas, discovered the top tips and handy hints that make travelling through crevassed areas simpler and safer from experienced UIAGM Guide and British Mountain Guides Training Officer Paul Moores.From avoiding dropping into the slots, to catching falling climbers. The Winter Belays sessions, one-day events, covered the technical protection options available for climbers to use on winter climbs. Several instructors were involved in this including Lodge Instructor Eric Pirie, Lodge based Mike Brownlow and Denali Climbing Ranger (far from the Alaskan peaks) John Evans.Over the course of the weekend there were two inspirational slide talks. Friday night saw Dave Hollinger giving away ?Lessons from the Dark Side: Alpine Style on Ama Dablam?. This was a very inspiring, and at times reflective account of the highs and lows of the Himalayas. With excellent slide images and a well paced narration he talked about the climbers ?learning curve? culminating with an ascent of a technically hard climb on Ama Dablam. Saturday night saw Scotland?s most well known climber and new routes activist, Andy Nisbet on centre stage. Andy?s climbing career covers over twenty-five years and over five hundred new climbs. In ?The Evening Torque: History, Exploration and Inspiration? Andy took us through these twenty five years with a witty look at his climbing adventures, in addition to accounts of ground breaking and epic first ascents in the Scottish Mountains. By late Sunday afternoon there were fifty-five ?buzzing? and very weary climbers. So was it a success? Judging from the grins on people?s face and the comments made by many of those who took part, it was. Given that the climbing conditions earlier in the season were rather dire at times, it was good to have some excellent climbing conditions for the weekend. So much so that Rich Cross said ? ?This weekend has rekindled my enthusiasm for Scottish climbing.? I?m sure everyone no matter how tired would echo these comments. Thanks must go to all those who attended the seminar, and whose passion for Scottish climbing made the weekend such an enjoyable and inspiring event to work for all the Instructors and Guides involved. Finally many thanks to Gore Tex Fabrics whose kind generosity supported the event and enabled several young climbers to cut their teeth on high standard mixed routes: watch out for their names in the future.Already plans are being put together for this coming seasons seminars. As before it is planned to run a seminar in the autumn covering all the key beta for getting the most out of the coming winter. Then when the white stuff hits the hills we will be running the 3rd performance seminar, again towards the end of February 2003. To keep up to date with further developments check out the website at