The past 3 days I have been teaching winter mountaineering to 4 members of the Cambridge University Mountaineering club. They all had summer climbing and hill walking backgrounds but had never wore crampons or used ice axe.
The first day was spent learning to use the axe to stop a slip and arrest a fall and then the new ways of walking and climbing in crampons. This was all well used on an ascent of Stob Coire Nan Lochan in hot sunshine and a mixture of firm and soft wet snow.
The second day we created and used snow belays on the slopes of Stob Ban, the weather was so good above the cloud inversion, that we keep up high and bagged a second munro for the day.
The final day, we headed up to the N.face of Ben Nevis through a low layer of cloud to be greeted by more blue skies and the very impressive rock buttresses and icy gullys. We were heading for Coire Leis and found firm refrozen snow, perfect for an efficient climb to the ridge. Another 30 minutes and we were on the summit surrounded by snow capped mountains peaking out of the cloud below.
The 3 days were a great success, creating 4 new keen winter mountaineers. Looking forward to next winters snow already. I did highlight it will not always be blue skies and sunshine.
blog by Tom Weston