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rewarding bunk-beds. even the uninspiring decor seemed to focus attention on the activity.
Imagine the anticipation then. when. weighed down with a plethora
ofequipment supplied by the Lodge.
we piled into our minibus and were borne to the foot of(‘airn (iorm. We were carried the first few thousand feet by chairlift. thereby avoiding a draining trudge up a less than attractive naked ski slope. As we set off on our walk around the peak area. our instructor was at pains to draw his pupils into conversation — not an easy task. believe me — and was constantly. subtly. sharpening our awareness of the pace we were walking at. of the time we could expect a certain distance to take us. ofthe lie ofthe land in relation to the contours on our maps. but also of the miniature azaleas at our feet. and the birds overhead. We were enhancing our present experience while simultaneouslyas acquiring an attitude that would help us cope with the dangers ofthe mountains.
Our first day was leisurely. with frequent stops. allowing us to nibble packed lunches provided by the Lodge. to investigate a wall of snow that winter expeditions had hollowed into sleeping holes. and to hear our instructor explain the geological and glacial history of the area. Throughout. he was very accommodating. estimating our levels of fitness and experience and ascertaining what each person
wanted from the course. He had not anticipated. when he joked about initiation rights in a glacial loch we had stopped to admire. that what Ed wanted was to strip off and dive in. but was happy enough to wait for him to dry. and to use 'the one mad enough to swim' as guinea pig for all subsequent demonstrations.
By the time we got back for tea and slabs ofcake. people were more relaxed and chatty. one or two even making cheeky comments about the macho tone of the action videos that were the evening's scheduled entertainment. not to mention ‘Tvlan Belong River — Belong Boat'. 'l'his
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Taken to new heights at Glenmore Lodge latter was a slide show of our instructor‘s canoeing adventures in Nepal: but the title! We were too busy adhering to our agenda to use it. but there is a multigym. as well as table tennis. sports videos and books. Nobody seemed to miss alcohol. or think of going ‘out". I imagine they were saving their energies for the next morning.
The remaining four days of the Mountaincraft course included river fording. tnore detailed navigational techniques and route planning both in the classroom and open air. mountain first-aid. rock climbing and finally a two-day expedition
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USEFUL i INFORMATION
socks. Mostpeople are in ' ‘sports gear'. butwe weren‘t and it didn't matter.
3 a shop selling a few climbing provisions—water bottles. maps. Mars Bars- and a dispensary.
I Glenmore Lodge is a stone‘sthrowtrom Aviemore. just oil the main A9 road.
What to Take
I One of the advantages of Glenmore Lodge is thatthey lend anything lrom walking boots and waterproof clothing to ice picks and helmets. For summer courses you really need very little-justmedium weight clothing and thick
I It is only tairto pointout that it is not just me who has reservations aboutthe Lodge building: it is ajoke among start. who say it should have been pulled down years ago. and plans tora maiornew development have already been drawn up. Inthe meantime. the rooms are basic. but comfortable. with bunks tor eithertwo ortour people. linen provided. and large communal shower rooms. The Lodge also has
I The live-day Mountaincratt course costs 2225 all in. Introductory and intermediate Rock Climbing both cost £285 tor five days (on these latter. the pupil-start ratio is 2:1 ). For turtherdetails aboutthese and canoeing. sampling and othertraining courses. contact Andy Anderson at Glenmore Lodge National OutdoorTraining Centre. Aviemore. Inverness-shire. PH2210U. 047 986 256. tax 047 986 212.
employing various skills and survival tips. and camping overnight.
The rock climbing provided a real f insight into the teaching. We were taken sotnc distance to fabulous cliffs near the mouth of the Spey. knotted securely into our harnesses and helmets and then left to watch with awe as otir instructor shinned tip a 40 foot high vertical rock face and disappeared over the top to secure the rope. If you are like me. you wouldn't believe you could do such a precedent-defying thing. but your instructor has such absolute confidence that you will. that you cannot refuse and you do.
While he has all but eliminated the real risk. a (ilenmore Lodge instructor will never allow trainees to lapse into a false sense ofsccurily. Rock climbing is. after all. potentially a very dangerous sport. and it wouldn’t do to release a group of novices at the end of the course thinking it was easy — your safety depends upon your carefulness. l I started off very eagerly up my first ' face. but as l crept higher. I felt increasingly out of my depth. I did i not know where to move next. or l whether I was capable of backing l down. I wanted to be told where to I put my foot and to feel the rope tight and strong. not dangling teasingly at my hips. llad that happened. I would i have avoided my momentary panic 'I attack at 30 feet. but also. I would l never have come to terms with it and made it to the top relyingon my own l ingenuityandexploitingtheproper l climbing techniques that would stand tne in good stead for future 3 ascents. You could say I was chuffed It)lTlIS.
Interestingly enough. another aspect of(ilcnmore l.odge's work is the provision of management courses —- confronted with a totally new sport. young managers get insight into the experience of their juniors. their apprehension and stress. and the kick-start that is success. as well as discovering quite a lot about themselves. Sent to sleep with images of Milk 'l‘ray heroes and Spidermen doing impossible things with skis and ropes to dramatic Disney soundtracks. l increasingly began to feel part of an elaborate psychological game myself.
As one instructor took the lads for a burn and brought them back sweating and exliausted saying ‘oh they've got too much energy. l’v e worked it all olf. they had to prov c how tough they are‘. whereas w c older sceptics were kept on our toes. not feeling we had done quite enough on the first day and therefore raring to go on the second. l began to realize one of the reasons l had hated sport so much at school you had to relinquish control. to do what you
were told and not know the reason or the outcome. .‘\t (ileninore lodgcl discovered that it can be safe to ptit yoursell'in someone clsc's hands. but also that riskng the odd leap lll the dark can bc extrcnielv eniov able bceatisc it can giy c you :nm e ol
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