This year Scotland delivered snow and winter sunshine for the annual north migration of Southampton Climbing. Jen Foster has been kind enough to do a write up for us to give you some insight as to what went on on the meet, you'll find this below.
On the Monday and Tuesday the beginners amongst us tackled the winter skills course, learning winter navigation, ice arrests and how best to take your partner out on a snow slope. Probably more valuable were the varied tips, facts and knowledge that our guide Lucy passed on about staying safe and getting the best from our gear and equipment.
For us beginners, our education continued into the week. Many thanks to the experienced club members who took us out and built up our skills. I can’t imagine that I’m alone in saying I was pushed out of my comfort zone trying snow belays, my first graded winter climb and an impossibly steep descent that I’d never have done by myself. We had white-outs, stunning blue skies and snow deep enough to lose our smaller club members in. Most of all, we had an enormous amount of fun.
Yes, there were a few days when it was just too windy to get out on the ice (except for die hards Neil and Jo who persevered when everyone else had retreated to the pub) - too windy even for the skiers and snowboarders who had their day on the slopes curtailed before it had even started due to closed pistes!
Despite the wind, everything from winter grade 1s to grade 4s were attempted (and in some cases achieved). There were a few boot related injuries, a nasty incident with a bag of carrots and a fall from Tim that begged the question; if a Tim falls on an empty ice climb with no one around to see it, did it really happen? (To be fair, we can be sure it happened because the unheard of happened the following day and Tim didn’t climb at all!)
It was an excellent week and I’m sure many of us will be back next year. In the meantime I’ll leave you with this picture of some local wildlife from Marc Bunyard - can you spot the Ptarmigans?