Friday 1st April 2022, 11:52am
Good news this month as the Covid 19 restrictions were lifted and sportscotland confirmed there was no longer any need to have specific guidance for our clubs and individual members. After almost two years of briefings and what seemed like endless updates and revisions to the advice on our website, this came as very welcome news.
For IWD 2022 on 7th March we used our social media channels to celebrate the achievements of a number of women in the mountaineering world. But it was one of our own directors, Ilona Turnbull, who led the way with a really inspiring blogpost which proved a hit with social media followers and was widely praised and shared.
There was lots of activity on the recruitment front, with interviews both for our Mountain Safety Advisor position and also our Director for Member Services and Communications. We will be announcing these more formally in the May edition of Scottish Mountaineer.
Our CEO Stuart Younie attended the regular meeting of Mountain Training UK and Ireland, which is always a valuable opportunity to find out what is happening across the home countries in terms of Mountain Training and also the BMC and Mountaineering Ireland.
Stuart was also invited to the Munro Society AGM on 26th March to give an update on the work of Mountaineering Scotland and the impact of our night navigation courses, which were introduced to our safety training programme with the generous support of the Munro Society. It was also the first face to face AGM and live presentation in a very long time.
Mountain Safety Advisor Ben Gibson has been out with five different mountaineering and hillwalking clubs over six days this winter, totalling 40 members. He and other work colleagues have been helping to deliver a wide range of winter skills to new and existing members.
We have been out focusing on journey planning, decision making and appropriate route choice, avalanche awareness, group management, technical winter skills, what equipment to carry and how to use it for emergencies, avalanche rescue practice, adapting summer navigation skills for the winter environment and how to also ‘winterise’ yourself to be ready and prepared for the winter season.
Winter isn’t quite over yet, and these skills are still very relevant when there is old, firm, icy snow patches still lying on the higher reaches of the mountains and where any slips/falls have very serious consequences. To get this message out to a wider audience, during March we also worked with Scottish Mountain Rescue, Mountain Training, Glenmore Lodge, Police Scotland, Snowsport Scotland and Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland to issue a press release backed up by extensive social media promotion reminding people of ground conditions.
We received this month a reply from Historic Environment Scotland to our enquiry in November 2021 about the robust security fence prohibiting access to climb in South Quarry along Salisbury Crags in Holyrood Park.
HES said that the specialist geotechnical advice they receive on an ongoing basis prompted them to restrict access for reasons of safety. They have considered climbing access in South Quarry and are unfortunately not able to support this in the short term. There was no indication of how long this situation would last.
Scottish Ministers gave a decision to refuse the Glenshero windfarm proposal in the southern Monadliaths. You can read our view on this here: https://www.mountaineering.scot/news/glenshero-turbine-decision-welcomed
The draft National Planning Framework 4 consultation ended. This is an important piece of policy as it determines what happens in the planning system for the next 10 years. Our view is that we supportive of the overall headlines around climate and biodiversity but concerned by a lack of detail of how these could be achieved. There is a greater need to recognise trade-offs and strengthen the genuine weight of wild land, biodiversity, recreation and heritage in these trade-offs. We are concerned that those things are quick to disappear when talking about developments in wild places, and have been supporting calls for greater protection for wild land.
A proposal has been made to develop a disused quarry in Kinross-shire, currently popular for bouldering, into holiday lodge complex, retaining the water and woodland features. We were contacted by the developer about it, and have promoted the consultation for climbers to add their comments. Discussion with the developer will continue once the feedback is collected.
A fair number of native woodland creation schemes being proposed, all involving lots of deer fencing. We have commented on the barrier to access that extensive deer fencing can create, and suggested gates for popular informal routes to summits, and crossing points every kilometre.
With the arrival of spring at lower altitudes, our ClimbScotland team has been getting outside more and has started up both the Real Rock sessions for under 18s and the Ready to Rock sessions for over 18s. Check out both for details and dates.