BMG Winter Training and Scottish Winter conditions report 24/01/2016


So this week has been 6 days of BMG training for myself and the other 4 Trainee Guides that make up the class of 2016. The training comprised of a Scottish avalanche day followed by 5 days of training in general guiding looking at all aspects of safe and efficient guiding in the Scottish mountains during winter time.

As mentioned the first day was a one-day avalanche course focusing on how the unique Scottish maritime climate affects avalanche conditions. The day was based at Aonach Mor and much was discussed and learnt under the watchful eye of Mark Diggins; the SAIS co-ordinator. This day was sponsored by the Chris Walker Memorial Trust so many thanks to the trust.


Shovel pat-test

The second day was spent in Glen Coe at Stob Coire nan Lochan and was a personal climbing / guiding day looking at many different aspects of guiding on mixed routes. Routes climbed were Scabbard Chimney, Crest Route and Twisting Grooves amongst others.


Paul Warnock belaying Jon Orr on Scabbard Chimney


John Crook on Crest Route. Credit: Tim Neil

The next day was spent on Ben Nevis looking at guiding on snowier routes / ice routes along with short roping snd how to safe guard clients during the approach to and descent from routes. Routes climbed were Green Gully, Central Gully left branch and Thompson’s Route. The conditions on the mountain had stabilised from all the recent snow and persistent cold temperatures so along with a good, calm weather forecast the first two days were both enjoyable and very informative.


John Crook taking the lead on Green Gully

The following day we all went to Buachaille Etive Mor and looked at safe guiding practices on longer routes and with it transitions from short roping to shorter pitches, then on to longer pitches where appropriate. Routes climbed were North Buttress and Naismith’s Route, with myself guiding Adrian Nelhams and Matt Stygall on North Buttress. It was great to have both Adrian and Matt as my ‘clients’ for the day. They are both IFMGA guides and once again a huge amount of knowledge was passed on. All teams then looked at guiding in descent whilst coming down Curved Ridge.


Buachille Etive Mor. Credit: Tim Neil


Myself guiding North Buttress. Credit: Tim Neil

The second to last day was spent back up on Ben Nevis with a team ascent of Tower Ridge again looking at all aspects of suitable, safe guiding on a long ridge route like that. The temperature had risen a lot and so the mountain was thawing fast and a wet day on the hill ensued. It is always nice to do Tower Ridge again tho and the conditions up high were good and it was a very suitable objective taking into account our aims for the day and the conditions on the hill.


Tower Gap. Credit: Tim Neil


Looking across to the North Face if anybody is wondering how much ice there is left… Credit: Tim Neil

The final day was spent back up on Buachaille Etive Mor bringing everything together by looking at all aspects of snow anchors, movement over varying terrain and suitable rope / guiding systems for different conditions.


The 6 days have been amazing and have left us all with a very clear picture of what will be expected during the Winter Test in March. A massive thanks to all the training team throughout the week and everybody else who helped bring the week together. Next stop, Winter Test!




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