On Sat 12th Jan 2013 Jim Groark took 6 clients into the Cairngorms for a Winter Skills day. Here's his take on the event...
I met Gavin, Claire, David, Stephen, Jackie, and Olly, and had a very sociable start to the day in the Active Pursuits Cafaidh in Aviemore. Not only were brews and breakfast taken, but we disgussed extra kit required for winter in the hills, route planning and fitted crampons to individuals boots.
After an hour or so, we all headed up to the Coire na Ciste car park, and walked up the Creagan Dubh ridge on a clear, windy day. The hills were scoured of snow with only patches of old neve here and there. We decided not to go too high, due to the strong winds and found a large patch of snow just into Coire Laogh Mor, which was relatively sheltered from the South Easterly wind.
The group was instructed on movement over snow and ice, progressing from just an ice axe, cutting steps, to crampons and ice axe techniques. Then we took off our crampons (to prevent injuries), and donned helmets to practice ice axe arrest. Great fun! Sliding on your back, on your front, upside down, learning how to stop a slide safely.
After a lunch break, we dug a pit to look at the different layers of snow and spoke of the characteristics of snow, snow structures and avalanche avoidance, with a bit about route planning, to keep yourself out of potential avalanche areas. At the end of the day, we all headed back to the car park, having enjoyed ourselves and hopefully learnt a few things too!
Photos are courtesy of Olly Crawford-Avis