Ok, ok, so the heading of the post sounds a bit extreme, but that’s the title of the course we signed upto, so don’t blame me for sounding like James Bond!
The girlfriend and I both love spending time in the mountains and the more we’ve explored them the more we’ve ended up in remote locations. We’ve done some multi day backpacks through remote Glens in Scotland and week long hikes in the Pyrenees. It’s easy to get caught up in the scenery and the peace and quiet but, on occasions, we’ve both been reminded of just how hopeless the situation could be if the mountain God’s decided to turn on us.
I’ve had to abandon the late run into base camp on the first day of a Scottish Mountain Marathon and abort a 2 day route through the Highlands when snow set in over night and made map reading almost impossible. I’ve pretty much shit myself with a storm brewing whilst wild camping and thinking the Force 8 guests were going to pick my tent up, with us in it, and transport us across country like a scene from ‘Twister’.
So there’s no harm in getting clued up and increase your ability to look after yourself as well as others. And learn where to park a tent (out of site and out of the wind!). And besides, if we ever have enough of this London malarkey and want to run a B&B in the Lake District, well, being a Mountain Leader would add another string to the bow. One of us could charge to take stressed out office workers up the hill, whilst the other cooked bacon and eggs back at home base.
I digress. Anyway, the MLTA course can be signed up for in a handful of centres throughout the UK, but we chose ours at Glenmore Lodge. This spectacular place is the national outdoor training camp for Scotland. You can almost smell the history and witness the thousand-yard-stare amongst some of the workers there. Make no mistake, when Scotland gets going it kicks arse as an outdoor pursuit mecca.
The course was amazing. Anyone with an interest in the hills of the UK should consider this. It wasn’t just wandering aimlessly through craggy peaks, it was learning how to do this under times of stress. We learned ‘confidence roping’, whereby you attach yourself to freaked out walkers and guide them down with a short rope. I can now also abseil through either the South African
or Classic Tecnique by just using a boulder and a length of rope.
Many of you will remember the opening night of the Olympics for its fan-fare and spectacular ceremony. We’ll remember it because we were being guided up Scotland’s 2nd highest peak, Ben Macdui, at 1am in the morning in a howling gale. I know almost as much about weather patterns than Michael Fish, and can tell you all about how to cross a river near breaching. I also now know what the best products available are to ward off the fecking Scottish midge!
I could navigate across a bleak moorland with little sweat, and tell you a bit about using the sun and the wind to help this process. I don’t say any of this with a smug smirk about me. Because I’m not a natural at this. I really am not. But with the help of the Scottish outdoor centre I feel more in tune with the great outdoors and able to look at the scenery without wondering how far off the path I am. I’d like to know where I am on the map the whole time and just how far the nearest escape route is. And the nearest pub.
Check this course out if you have more than a passing interest in the hills. It might not make you James Bond, but it puts you up there with Ray Mears. And thats pretty cool in my books!