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Our month: Mountaineering Scotland in November

Tuesday 30th November 2021, 12:38pm

The Mountaineering Scotland annual general meeting was held online on Sat 20th November and attended by 33 members and eight board and staff members. The AGM followed the standard pre-set agenda but in response to feedback from last year included a short presentation of the 2020-21 annual report involving several board members. A video presentation of the annual accounts for the financial year 2020/21 was also presented by Director of Finance and Treasurer, Hazel Meehan, with an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and comment on these.

Following the AGM an extraordinary general meeting was held to vote on two special resolutions to make changes to the Articles of Association which would allow board members to continue in their post for an additional two years at the end of their four year term if they wished to, and with the consent of the board and the approval of the membership. Both resolutions were passed based on proxy votes submitted in advance of the meeting and additional votes by eligible members on the day.

The draft minutes of both meetings and full details of the results of the voting will be available on the Mountaineering Scotland website soon. The board will meet for the final board meeting of 2021 on 16 December, at which they will discuss how to fill two currently vacant posts on the volunteer board of directors.

Cairngorm tragedy commemoration

Our CEO Stuart Younie and President Brian Shackleton made the trip up to Glenmore Lodge to represent Mountaineering Scotland at a memorial gathering on Sunday 21st November to commemorate 50 years since the tragedy in the Cairngorms claimed the lives of five schoolchildren and one of their outdoor instructors. In attendance at the event were some of the ex-instructors from Glenmore Lodge where the rescue efforts were coordinated and who were involved in the rescue, as well as representatives from the current staff at Glenmore Lodge, Cairngorm MR Team and Lagganlia Outdoor Centre.

Partnership working

Partnership working continues to be an ongoing theme and Davie and Stuart made the trip up to Pitlochry recently to meet with David Balharry, Chief Executive, and Mike Daniels, Head of Policy with the John Muir Trust, to discuss areas of shared interest. As well as the future of wild land areas and the review of the national planning framework 4, topics included the new policy on onshore wind turbines, visitor management, and future investment in upland paths. Following the success of the “Save our Outdoor Centres” campaign last year which was supported by Mountaineering Scotland and a number of other outdoor sports a Holyrood Cross Party Group on Outdoor Education has been established convened by Liz Smith MSP. Stuart attended the inaugural meeting of that group on 23rd November and it’s clear that despite emergency funding provided last year many outdoor centres are still at risk of closure.

Heather Morning moving on

Some major news last week was that after almost 13 years in her role as Mountain Safety Advisor, Heather Morning will be leaving us to take on an exciting new role as Chief Instructor for Glenmore Lodge. We broke the news at the team meeting on the 24th of November and are all delighted for her although her departure will be a big loss to us and to Mountaineering Scotland. Heather will be with us until the end of the winter course program, so we will be taking some time to review the role and look to recruit to fill the position.

Access issues

November was a varied month for access and conservation issues, with consultations for five new forestry plantations and three windfarm proposals.

We objected to a proposal for a radio mast proposed for a location adjacent to the summit of Carn an Fhreiceadain, a Corbett in the hills above Kingussie. The main reason for objecting was the lack of information on the visual impact on the wild qualities of the land, and no mapping of signal coverage showing if it was the right place to site it.

Deer fencing is a common access matter, with either few crossing points or locked gates on tracks with no separate non-motorised access available. A new plantation at Beinn Dhorain, north of Brora, was flagged up by a member as having a new fenceline without a crossing point at a convenient route off the hill beside a burn. A quick enquiry to Scottish Forestry, who assess new forestry schemes, led to correspondence with the forestry consultant. They had gates in place but weren’t aware of this informal route off the hill, and the gate hadn’t been seen by walkers. Two stiles are now being put in where the fence crosses the burn, along with another stile at the roadside at the start of what is the main route up the hill.

Strathfarrar access

Winter vehicular access to the summits up above Glen Strathfarrar is still being negotiated with the estate who manage the land. We are continuing to seek an understanding of any management concerns they have with continuing vehicular access, and are hopeful of a resolution before too long. In the meantime, non-motorised access rights and responsibilities remain unaffected.

Scottish Youth Climbing Team comes 3rd at the 2021 Youth Series Grand Final

Massive congratulations to the Scottish Youth Climbing Team who came third at the 2021 Youth Climbing Series Grand Finals in at Parthian Climbing centre in Southampton at the weekend. Scottish competitors, parents and volunteers made the journey by planes, trains and automobiles (and ferries) to attend the two days of competition in both bouldering and roped disciplines. Some from as far as Orkney! A full report will be coming soon and make sure to check out the social media coverage of the weekend on the ClimbScotland social media channels.

Scottish Podiums:

·        1st Charles Wardrop – Male Youth D

·        3rd Kasha Ogilvie – Female Youth B

·        3rd Rachel McNicol – Female Youth A

Pictured: Heather Morning, who is leaving Mountaineering Scotland in 2022 after almost 13 years as Mountain Safety Advisor.