BTOpenReach Apprentices learn winter skills in the Cairngorms.

BTOpenReach apprentices on summit of Cairngorm, by Duncan Maclennan.

A fantastic two-day event was enjoyed by BT’s first and second year modern apprentices during their two-day winter skills team-building event.

The first evening kicked off with gear issue and kit check followed by theory session on Navigation. The apprentices then put their new learnt skills into practice on a night navigation exercise by Loch Morlich.

Wednesday started with low cloud as we trudged our way into Coire an t-Sneachda looking for a good site to begin our winter skills.  Some of these people had not even hill walked in summer conditions, but in no time they were confident in ice axe breaking as they experienced sliding from every possible position. As they began learning their crampon skills the sun came out to give us fantastic views over the Gorms.

Today was a complete contrast. Having acquired the necessary skills the previous day we decided to tackle Cairn Gorm by Fiacaill a Choire Chais and to return by Windy Ridge. With blistered feet and aching limbs the five apprentices trudged into the whiteout conditions without complaint. The satisfaction on their faces on reaching the summit was evident and when we finally descended Windy Ridge, I felt I had converted them into mountaineers as they reluctantly handed back their Tiso hire ice axe and crampons.

by Duncan Maclennan, nineonesix leader and BTOpenReach coach.

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