Perse Climbing Club reach great heights
Sixth Form students Lewis Naughton and Hector Thornton-Swan write about their half-term climbing trip to Scotland.
As half term came to an end for most, the Climbing Club looked forward to an exciting weekend in Scotland.
Our first encounter with the locals soon ensued, arriving at a local kit shop just before closing to obtain our mountaineering boots for the weekend. That evening after a classic chorizo pasta dish we set about discussing how to identify and deal with the risks posed by the punishing environment of Scottish winter and what was in store for us for the upcoming few days.
The next morning came and we set off up the hills with the exciting proposal of snow hole construction to look forward to. We analysed the snow pack and checked for avalanche risk using a number of methods discussed the night before. Once we were happy that the conditions were safe, we practiced key ascent and descent techniques on a large snowy bank. With high morale and motivation to build a sheltered lunch spot we started the construction of the snow hole. Removing snow, shovel by shovel, it took the whole group 3 hours for the shelter to be finished. After a quick rest and demolishing a sandwich we readied ourselves for an afternoon packed full of glissading and crampon use. While Mr Parker went through ice axe and crampon technique we dreamed of the next hour filled with sliding down ice slopes. Following him down the mountain, we all grounded to a halt with varying degrees of success, but demonstrating the key concept of a good ice axe arrest.
We woke for the second morning full of energy and raring to go, ready to ascend up to the Cairngorm plateau. With the sun high in the sky we slipped on our crampons eventually reaching the summit of Cairngorm at over a 1000 metres. Highlights included a short ascent of a 40 degree snow slope which we all climbed competently, proving we had grasped the crampon and ice axe techniques taught to us the previous day. We spent the afternoon traversing the mountain tops culminating in an ice slope with a 200m stretch of perfect bottom sliding properties aiding our progress back to the car park considerably. We set about sliding our way around the mountain once again finding streamlined positions to slide even faster. That evening the leaders decided to cook, with our teachers battling it out to be crowned king of PES spice.
Monday morning, the last day of the trip, saw us waking up at 6 o’clock to zombie into a bus for the 10 hour trip home. While discussing the trip on the way home we unanimously agreed how enjoyable the trip was and that it must become a regular.