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Mountain Instructor Certificate Training

Using a direct anchor on Curved Ridge

It’s been a hectic last few weeks with various items of work and personal climbing made all the more challenging by unusual winter conditions. This has lead up to my “Mountain Instructor Certificate” (MIC) training. For those that don’t know the Mountain Instructor Certificate is the top level mountaineering award in the UK. It builds on previous mountaineering awards and gives you the skills to teach winter and ice climbing in Scotland. Part of the process for gaining this award is to undertake a five day training course which will assess your current abilities and give lots of input into improving your instruction.

Winter Climbing on Curved Ridge
Winter climbing on Curved Ridge – This photo and the photo above courtesy Tim Neill

It’s the end of day two and I’m working on digesting everything learned so far. Because of conditions we have strayed from the usual course schedule. The focus so far has been on mountaineering and how you look after people on varied terrain while moving efficiently. We covered lots of techniques and tips from ‘simple’ little details; like when it’s best to swap hands while using a technique called short roping, through to discussions on avalanche risk and planning a weekend of progressive learning for students. It’s a great process to be involved in and I’m really happy to be spending some time with other instructors. I’ve made some new friends and caught up with lots of old ones.

MIC Trainees and trainers descending Stob Coire Nan Lochan
MIC Trainees and trainers descending Stob Coire Nan Lochan

We’ve also been lucky enough to have winter arrive just in time for the course. This has allowed us to get some great mountain routes in. Yesterday we had a great mountain journey from Dinnertime Buttress (II) up onto Aonach Dubh and into Stob Coire Nan Lochan before heading up Dorsal Arete (II) then just as the clouds lifted we headed back down to the vans. Today has been a wild and windy day with snow being redistributed all over the mountains. We chose a safe route up Curved ridge and off Buachaille Etive Mor. This felt pretty full on with great “Scottish” conditions involving winds almost strong enough to blow you off the mountain and spindrift swirling from every direction. I was thankful for my goggles.

Windy, scottish conditions on Buachaille Etive Mor.

I’m very much looking forward to the next three days of climbing and learning while in the Scottish Highlands.

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