This years Scotland Trip was undoubtedly the best for good weather climbing conditions in aeons. With snow being spotted as far south as the Lake District and only increasing in volume as the 21 stoats travelled northwards the excitement mounted throughout the miraculously smooth drive.

On arrival a flurry of activity ensued with cooking, unpacking and general havoc followed by intense discussion about what was to happen tomorrow! The trip novices were safely occupied with their 2 Day Winter Skills course and were under the knowledgeable and watchful eyes of instructors Phil and Lawrence. The rest of the stoats however were free to do as they pleased and decided to head into the Northern Corries.

The 29th proved an exhausting day for all. Whilst three stoats went on a wintery walk and scrambled up some ice and rocks in Sneachda, four groups went to try a variety of mixed climbing in Coire an’t Sneachda and Coire An Lochain. After varying levels of excitement (read: fear) everyone returned to the hut safely though with a slight worry that we had peaked too soon with 6 people arriving at the car park after dark.

There was an awful forecast for our second day leading to the slightly more experienced bunch of stoats deciding to go on a restful walk. (It of course wasn’t that they were tired from the day before...no no!) However the mysterious forces of the mountains had been poorly predicted by our friends at the MWIS and it was sunny, not particularly windy and snow conditions were excellent. This meant the novices had a productive day learning to ice-axe arrest and consolidating their cramponning skills. The groups arrived back at the hut to greet Tom and Rosie, two of our four wonderful Old Gits who joined us on the trip.

The newly trained winter mountaineers!

New Years Eve

New Years Eve brought a day of wind and powder snow. Whilst one group wisely remained in the lowlands practicing navigation in Nethy Forest the rest of these foolish adventurers decided to trek into the Corries and attempt some mixed climbing. Each group ended up backing off their routes (from various points) and all agreed the conditions were not ideal.

On returning to the hut thoughts turned to New Years Eve Celebrations where the stoats played games such as “zimmyzimmy”, pan and sling and the spoon game before heading off to the traditional New Year Ceilidh in Grantown on Spey. Here an unfortunate accident befell the current trip organiser when Sam Hunt, of previous UBMC Mountain Sec fame, colliding with ADL resulting in a bit of a foot injury. However the celebrations carried on regardless and the stoats welcomed in the New Year with shouts of “This is the best way to spend New Year ever!” and “Scotland is the best trip of 2017 AND 2018!”

New Year’s Day

The new year started with a spell of perfect mountaineering weather. Three days followed of clear (ish) skies, not very strong (ish) winds and fairly good snow. (Compared with past years this was viewed by all as “perfect”) On the 1st Tom, Rosie, Paul and Holly went to a new crag for the club- Lurchers and did a waterfall route.

Tom Green leading at Lurchers.

The final day of climbing on the trip produced a spectacular list of achievement for the stoats. In a single day 4 different winter crags were climbed at (Cha No, Sneachda, Lochain, and Hells Lumb), everyone out on the mountain had the chance to try their hand at some ice climbing. Tom D, Jake, Fran and Jerome made the epic journey to and from the summit of Ben Macdui in incredible time via the summit of Cairngorm...because why stop at one Munro?!

Practising winter mountaineering=top roping steep ice right? (On the 2nd Richard, Pete and Jerome went the practice their winter mountaineering skills in Coire An Lochain.)
The Macdui Crewey
More ice climbing for the group on the last day of the trip!
After a celebratory meal and a lot of packing it was time to return to Birmingham after probably the best Scotland ever.