As winter approaches, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) have released dates of this year's Winter Skills and Avalanche Awareness courses. Last year was a particularly avalanche-prone winter, and the MCofS is urging anyone heading out into the snowy conditions to consider topping up their knowledge of avalanche conditions and the best ways to avoid getting caught up in one.
These subsidised courses are available to MCofS members (you can join as part of the application process) and are either a weekend or a series of one day courses. Based at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore, they are aimed at anyone who enjoys the Scottish hills in winter and wishes to improve their competency and skill levels.
The winter skills courses cover the essential skills of walking with an axe and crampons, ice axe self arrest, navigation, winter safety, avalanche avoidance and much more. It does not involve any use of a rope. The staffing ratio is 1:6.
This winter, the MCofS is also running two, one-day Avalanche Awareness courses, based from the Nevis Range Ski Area north of Fort William. The courses are designed for proficient winter hill walkers wishing to increase their knowledge of snow and avalanches; learn which areas to avoid and improve their understanding of reports and forecasts. Each course will consist of an indoor introduction to avalanche theory followed by a practical session on the hill. The courses are staffed on a 1:4 ratio with highly experienced MIC holders. The cost of the course includes a return trip on the Gondola.