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December 2016
Mountain Leader

By Megan S. M. Craig

“There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.”

The KN gang, led by Mountain Leader in training, Debbie Anderson,
clambered into our very own mystery machine, Ivan, and set off on an adventure to the hills of Moray. In a past life Ivan was a big white van but now he is a blue, self-built bespoke camper van extraordinaire.

In the words of John Muir, “the mountains were calling and we must go!”

A discussion of timings ensues as Ivan bounds towards Ben Rinnes, the gang’s destination on a chilly Wednesday morning. Timing is one of the most important factors taught in Mountain Leader Training. Debbie, the gang’s leader for our day out, had recently come back from the week long training course.

As we travelled from Knock to Dufftown, Travis, Debbie’s photogenic German shepherd, snuggled up by the gear stick and Debbie gave me a day-by day account of her training so far.

Navigation is still a major part of the course. This often begins with pacing, i.e. how many paces or double paces it takes you to cover 100m on different terrains – uphill and on the flat.

This is crucial for micro-navigation and takes a lot of practice. Also still taught are traditional map and compass skills i.e. orientating the map with your surroundings, using a baseplate compass with the map, understanding your surroundings, map contour lines, weather, first-aid and now a large part of the course, especially useful to us here locally, is to understand the seasons, the fauna and flora and sporting periods and access rights in Scotland.

Debbie was one of five on the course – this small group’s make up was varied with a doctor, a procurer and two outdoor centre workers. Despite confessing to an age gap between herself and the rest of her group Debbie did not feel deterred and held her own as an experienced and fit hillwalker for the whole week.

To read the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of the December 2015 issue!

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