Winter mountain training programme aimed at youngsters

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The success of a groundbreaking winter mountain safety partnership between St John Scotland and Mountaineering Scotland has led to its expansion into the autumn months as well as winter.

The project, funded by St John Scotland, is aimed at young people, with an experienced mountain safety instructor working directly with members of Scottish university mountaineering clubs.

The scheme began in the winter of 2015-16, when Nick Carter worked with 10 different university mountaineering clubs, giving on-the-hill training to 86 students, teaching them about winter skills, winter mountaineering and winter climbing, depending on their existing levels of experience. He also gave evening winter safety lectures to 181 students.

By the end of the first season St John Scotland was so impressed by what the project had achieved that it was extended to include this winter 2016/17 and 2017/18.

Now the organisation, which also provides substantial levels of funding for Scottish mountain rescue teams, has agreed to expand the scheme into the universities’ autumn term.

This will allow pre-winter training which will prepare often inexperienced students in advance of the less forgiving conditions in winter.

Training weekends have already started and are fully booked. Now St John Scotland has confirmed that in addition to next winter’s sessions, they will fund 20 days’ training for clubs through September and October this year.

Angus Loudon, St John Scotland’s executive director, said: ‘The work he does with young people is critical, and ensures climbers are equipped with the necessary skills to deal with Scotland’s often treacherous terrain and conditions.’

David Montieth, Mountaineering Scotland’s director for mountain safety, said: ‘The extension of the mountain safety instructor programme into the autumn months provides an opportunity to further improve the basic hill skills of Scottish students so vital for their forthcoming winter adventures.’