Thursday 30th March 2023, 10:41am
News from the CEO
As part of Mountaineering Scotland's ongoing commitment to helping break down barriers to participation, Stuart Younie, our CEO, started off the month by attending an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion workshop aimed at CEOs and Directors. This was also attended by two members of our board, Jo Dytch and Andrew Walker. The session was organised by sportscotland as part of their learning and development programme, and was delivered by Plan for Sport, providing a valuable update into most recent developments into this important area of work. Stuart and Jack Davis, our new Talent and Pathways Officer, also attended a workshop hosted by Harper MacLeod which provided an overview of the latest guidance in relation to Transgender Inclusion in domestic sport.
Later in the month, Stuart travelled up to Glenshee with Davie Black, Access and Conservation Officer, and Alistair Todd, Director for Snowsports Touring, to meet with representatives from Glenshee Ski Centre to discuss concerns relating to access for ski tourers. The meeting was organised jointly with our colleagues in Snowsport Scotland who were represented by their CEO Scott Simon and Euan Baxter, Pathway Coach. The meeting was positive and its was agreed to set up a joint working group to take forward the actions that were identified.
In the theme of developing our partnerships, Stuart also chaired a meeting of the CEOs of outdoor and adventure sports bodies, which was attended by Jane Campbell Morrison, Chair of the Scottish Adventure Activities Form (SAAF). Jane provided a wide ranging update on some of the development activity SAAF has been involved in including the future of the licencing, environmental sustainability, the outdoor workforce, proposals to establish a UK wide Outdoor Learning Association and the creation of an industry research hub.
Membership and Communications
March saw the release of our new calendar of courses on the Mountaineering Scotland website, with all of our most popular courses from last year and a new Understanding Steeper Ground course now available to book for members.
The membership team were also delighted to announce that we have reached over 16,000 members – thank you to everyone who has joined us recently and to all of our long-standing members who continue to support us!
If you’d like to join us (not just as a member but a member of staff!) we’re currently hiring. Mountaineering Scotland is looking for an experienced part time Office Administrator who can provide executive support to our Board and CEO and also support the running of our head office here in Perth. If you’re interested in joining a team that is dedicated to helping people enjoy Scotland’s mountains, hills and climbing venues, we’re offering an attractive package for the right candidate, with the opportunity to work flexible hours, and some WFH possible, along with a number of other benefits. Find out more and apply.
Mountain Safety Team
During March, the Mountain Safety Team were busy running a number of courses, including the final Winter Skills course. Unfortunately, the Snowsports Touring Course at beginning of March had to be cancelled due to lack of snow, but the team were happy that all other courses went ahead as planned or were able to be rescheduled.
Mountain Safety Advisor Ben Gibson delivered course for the Scottish Dry Tooling Club, The Braes of Fife Hill Walking Club and final Night Navigation courses. Ben was also busy helping to run winter skills and mountaineering workshops during the Braemar Mountain Festival and was a (literal!) dog’s body for the Lake District Search and Rescue Dogs, who came up to Scotland for their winter training.
Meanwhile, Mountain Safety Advisor Kirsty Pallas gained her Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (WMCI) qualification – congratulations Kirsty!
ClimbScotland officially welcomed their four new Talent Coaches in March, with Hannah Smith, Mike Mullins, Michael Bleazard and Pete Langlands joining the team! (You can read all about the new coaches on the ClimbScotland website.
Later in the month, the ClimbScotland Fun Comp Finals took place at Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, with 71 young climbers in attendance. A total of 207 climbers took part in the qualifying rounds across Scotland, at 12 host walls. Full report coming on the ClimbScotland website soon.
At the end of March, the Partners' Seminar Series kicked off with a discussion about neurodiversity and climbing, with ClimbScotland's Robert MacKenzie hosting the talk. This featured an amazing line-up of speakers, from coaches to climbers, followed by a panel discussion featuring all the keynote speakers, including Juan Avendano (NICAS trustee and climbing consultant), Alex Hithersay (climbing coach), Chris Shepperd (neurodiverse climber) and Alex West (BMC). If you missed it, don’t panic, it will be available on the ClimbScotland YouTube channel soon!
With the 2023 Squad Selection coming to a close, ClimbScotland are now turning their attention to 2024. GB Climbing have some documents out for consultation and we are not far behind with ours. For ClimbScotland selection, visit the website.
Finally, in preparation for The Ledge Climbing Gym opening, the ClimbScotland team got the chance to hang out with the masters from Impact - The Setter's Workshop and spent wo days looking at the specifics of how to set incredible climbs.
Access & Environment
A planning application to expand the car park at Invervar in Glen Lyon to accommodate up to 15 vehicles had been submitted to Perth & Kinross Council. Mountaineering Scotland have welcomed the expansion of what was always a tight parking space for anyone wanting to do the Glen Lyon Horseshoe, and especially so now with a rural clearway in operation where verge parking is restricted. Our comments to the Council are that an expanded car park will be of benefit to both hillwalkers and local residents, as long as the parking is available to visitors throughout the year and that parking charges for use are reasonable.
There have been six new windfarm proposals this month, none of which would have a significant impact on mountaineering interests. We have, however, objected to a proposal - Quantans Hill, at Carsphairn in Dumfries and Galloway - which was for 14 turbines, 200m to blade tip. If approved, this scheme would break the visual link between Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, the Glenkens and the Rhinns of Kells. The prime remaining mountaineering resource in the Southern Uplands would, by this single development, be markedly shrunk in size to only the area between the Rhinns of Kells and the Merrick range.
Shared Rural Network
A UK Government initiative has come to light that is raising significant landscape concerns about intrusion of 25m tall 4G telecoms masts into remote areas. There is no argument about expansion of 4G mobile phone coverage to improve digital connectivity for rural community residents and businesses. We accept these corridors of connectivity as a necessary rural development, with appropriate landscape mitigation for their location and tracks used in their installation. What is of concern is the proposal for 300 masts in remote areas of Scotland that currently have no cell coverage and where there is little or no local need for this service. We are in conversation with the agencies responsible for this rollout, expressing our concerns - what price convenience over our wild landscapes?