Each year Ellesmere College CCF aim to take a group of cadets up to the Scottish Highlands for a week of mountain walking in the snow. Unfortunately, this winter had been particularly poor for snow conditions, and we travelled for almost 10 hours up to Dundonnell JSMTC (Joint Service Mountain Training Centre) in glorious sunshine yesterday.
Today was our first venture out into the mountains, and we were welcomed by a distinct lack of snow and an abundance of cloud and rain. We had hoped to spend the day on Ben More Assynt and Conival, but the weather conditions forced us to aim a little lower and we headed for Cul Mor instead. The poor visibility provided the ideal opportunity for the groups to practice their navigation skill as we worked our way across to the mountain’s south east ridge. In reality, the ridge isn’t that long or steep but, being the first day on the hill, it certainly felt like it.
The final push for the summit was over a boulder field that required a bit of straight forward scrambling and gave everyone a sense that they’d truly ‘climbed’ the mountain. After the traditional summit photo, we took advantage of the limited shelter on offer for a brief lunch stop, before turning south west to find the col and our planned descent route. As we left the summit, the wind picked up and made progress very difficult for a few minutes until we got out of it’s path.
The descent was easy enough, if a bit soggy, and the group took time to enjoy a number of waterfalls that we came across. However, the rain didn’t encourage anyone to stop for our second lunch, and we opted to plough on to the minibus and shelter.
It certainly wasn’t a wonderfully memorable day due to the weather, but it was good to be back in the Scottish hills again. Let’s hope things pick up over the coming week.