There have been only a few moments over the course of my 24 years that I’ve seriously feared for my life but there’s not yet been one that trumps my first experience of winter walking last year. Winter walking is no joke and if you’re going to venture into the mountains you need to be properly equipped and you need to know how to use that equipment.
It had been something that I’ve always wanted to do and have felt locked out of the mountains in winter months due to not being confident in my skills or in reading the terrain Although the thought of heading out was exciting there was always that little voice in the back of my mind that screamed it was a stupid idea. A lot of people die in the snow laden mountains, especially if they walk out into a cornice thinking that it’s solid ground. It’s hard to read snow and it’s not merely about peering out the morning of your walk. So, I decided to get myself skilled up and then, should I want to venture out, I would be well prepared for the dangers I was going to face.
The course itself was a lot of fun and I felt good learning how to properly use my crampons and axe. We tried assorted methods of throwing ourselves down a safe slope and learned how to stop ourselves by using an ice axe arrest. They were skills that were definitely needed as we ventured further into the Scottish mountains the next day. I would not want to have gone without them. I would not have stood a chance at stopping myself otherwise. Based on my experience, if you are questioning whether to do a winter skills course I would say yes – without a doubt. You gain the skills to unlock the mountains for a few more months of the year and who wouldn’t want to be able to take advantage of that?
For the full feature make sure to read Trail February 2016.