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Our month: Mountaineering Scotland in August 2022

Monday 5th September 2022, 3:58pm

Its been a very busy August for our CEO Stuart Younie, with the Finance Advisory Group and Board both meeting this month and preparations starting for our upcoming AGM, due to be held on Saturday the 19th November. We are keeping a close eye on the finances this year following further increases in our insurance costs and the cost of producing the Scottish Mountaineer, although we had some good news on advertising revenues for the August edition. The board considered the new format for the operational plan to align with the new strategy and also considered new policies relating to risk management and Equality Diversity and Inclusion. In order to further our influence around access and environmental issues it was also agreed that Mountaineering Scotland would become a full member of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, sign up to the Protect our Winters POW Pledge and also become a member of the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland to support their work on path repair and restoration.

It's also been a busy month for recruitment, with short listing for the new Communications Officer and the Talent and Pathways Officer interviews scheduled for early September. Alongside the restructuring of the mountain safety team, and both Jane and Denise retiring this is another significant change in personnel as we look to replace Neil Reid and also fill an exciting new post with the ClimbScotland Team.

Mountain safety Team

August was a busy month outdoors for Mountaineering Scotland.

For the Mountain Safety Team Ben Gibson and Kirsty Pallas ran a navigation course in the Ochils which was well attended, and everyone enjoyed the sunshine AND warmth while out and about.

Ben also managed two club training weekends.

On 20th August he was out with members of the Jacobite Mountaineering Club, delivering advanced rock climbing skills training, covering elements of better belaying, clear communication, buddy checks, problem solving, rescues ,multipitch ropework and good all-round fun and banter.

On 27th and 28th August  Ben was out again with members from Moray Mountaineering Club.  They enjoyed great weather for a navigation training day on the Moine Mhor of the Glen Feshie Hills, with clear views out to Ben Nevis and beyond. The midges were out in force early morning, but that didnít stop everyone from having a great day together in the hills developing navigation techniques and strategies. The following day was a climbing day at Kingussie Crag, looking at some intro to rock climbing and further personal development in being a safer belayer, ropeworks skills and personal abseils.

All in all a great couple of weekends getting to meet new people and help clubs develop their members in what they love to do!

The winter course dates have now been finalised with some new courses in the diary.  These are one-day winter skills courses based in Glen Coe, which we hope will allow easier access to our winter programme for those in the central belt and in the west of Scotland. One of these courses is being held as a course for women.

See our winter courses

Now that the student clubs are back, we are ready to release the student programme with the Student Winter Skills weekend and the SMART weekend.  Both supported by our friends at Glenmore Lodge and the latter is kindly supported financially by Braemar Mountain Rescue Team.

See our student courses

ClimbScotland team

A big strategic focus for the ClimbScotland team and wider organisation is our work Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. The team has done some great work in the past and currently in this area, through working with the likes of our friends at Urban Uprising, Boots and Beards and Sense Scotland, as some examples. Recent developments in this area of work have included:

Supporting a volunteer training weekend for Urban Uprising at Glenmore Lodge

Working in partnership with Common Wheel to deliver outdoor session to people with mental illness

Developing links between paraclimbing clubs and Scottish Disability Sport branches to signpost opportunities through their clubs

Discussions with Clyde Gateway to look at how access and participation can be developed further at Cuningar Loop for the local and surrounding communities

A lot of work is happening in the background to make this event possible, with a very short lead in time. We have been supporting this process working with the key partners BMC/GB Climbing, Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, EventScotland and The City of Edinburgh Council. As part of our support for this event, we have reached out to the Scottish Climbing Wall Network with the aim of creating Fan Zones as another way for people to watch the action. Watch this space and keep an eye on our comms for more info!

We are hosting this gathering for the first time in over two years. This is an opportunity for climbing wall managers/owners from across Scotland to come together and network with the other walls as well as get updates and contribute towards our future strategy, including how we work together to develop the sport.

Access & conservation

Access work had 15 enquires this month with deer stalking information and deer fence obstructions being current, along with car parking issues, one of which was in Strath Mulzie with the moving of the traditional parking spot 4km down a track, as the volume traffic from hillwalkers was eroding the track, which fell to the estate to maintain.

NatureScot consulted us on a proposal to restrict access to the Rum Cuillin, as a precautionary measure to protect from avian flu an internationally important colony of Manx shearwaters. We queried the extent and duration of this request to avoid the peaks and reached a reasonable solution.

As part of the Scottish Outdoor Recreation Alliance, we had a liaison meeting with the People and Places Team in the Cairngorms National Park Authority.  A good discussion on a range of issues, including strategic plans, planning policy and visitor management.  A consultation seeking views on getting around the park by walking and cycling is currently live, and membersí observations are welcome: https://cairngorms2030.commonplace.is/

The Upland Path Advisory Group met recently and we led a discussion on mechanisms for funding the repair and maintenance of upland paths, and the difficulties for privately-owned estates in obtaining funding for repairs.

Planning matters involved nine windfarm proposals, eight of which are at an early stage of scoping potential impacts, for which we supplied comments on appropriate viewpoints for assessment.  We objected to one proposal, Little Gala windfarm, in South Lanarkshire. This proposed six, 149m-tall turbines immediately adjacent to the popular Tinto Hills.  The landscape of this area has many turbines in it, but it is the proximity to the summit of Tinto and the impact on the views from it that provoked an objection.

There was a handful of forestry proposals this month, with one in Knoydart for two new native woodlands that require some scrutiny.  We communicated to the forester the need to provide gates and a clear route in the planting scheme to maintain the route to Ladhar Bheinn.