Duncan Buchanan

Summer Mountain Leader Award – Glenmore Lodge

I had been thinking for some time of doing my summer mountain leader training, and when I heard from a friend about the Neil Mackenzie Trust I decided to apply to help pay the cost of the course.  When I was successful with the grant I went ahead and booked the course for October when I would have some time.

October 2018.

I had booked my SML course at Glenmore Lodge and arrived there in the Sunday night and met my room mate Les, we chatted for a couple of hours and then settled to sleep as we wanted to be well rested for the morning.

Day 1.

After breakfast we met our instructors and the rest of the group, we went over the syllabus for the week. We also had the chance to talk about our previous experience and why we wanted to do the training.
So on to the first subject maps, compass and navigation, here we did some basic skills to show the instructors that we were competent.
After a short break we went over the best ways to get weather reports for the mountains and learnt about synoptic charts.
In the afternoon we were going out for a hike so we went over personal kit and what to take on the hill.
After lunch we went out for a hike and we each had a chance to lead the navigation once back we went over some more synoptic charts for an hour.

Day 2.

d. BuchananFirst of all we went over the weather forecast and synoptic charts for the day and also some of the legal responsibilities for the mountain leader.
Then it was outside to just behind the centre to learn rope skills. We learnt about anchor points, belaying and knots.
We spent the rest of the morning going over these skills belaying each other over a small crag. In the afternoon we were back in the classroom for a short time going over the mornings activities, Then we went over river crossings which we were going to be doing in the afternoon.
Once we got our gear sorted we were of in the minibus to the river a few miles away. At the river we tried different techniques for crossing safely from individually to being part off a group. Once we returned from the river we had a little more classroom work then the chance to go back outside to the crag and work on our rope skills from the morning.

Day 3.

Today we were going out for the day on the hill, so we had a look at the map to the rough area that we were going and also checked the weather and synoptic charts for the day. When we got all our gear ready for the day we were off in the minibus to the location.
Once we arrived at the location we had a quick brief from our instructors then we were off each one of the group leading and navigating different sections by different techniques like pacing and timing and taking bearings. The weather wasn’t on our side as very windy and wet but it was all good practice. Once back at base we had the chance to study up a little on the flora and fauna as we would give a little talk on the final day.

Day 4.

We spent a little bit of time going over what we had learnt so far including working out the weather from the synoptic charts. Then we were off in the minibus to find some rough steep ground to practice our rope skills and leadership skills. Here we learnt about helping people over difficult terrain and when it would be necessary to use the rope. We set up delays and different techniques including the South African absail. When we got back to base the instructors went over the next couple of days as this would be our overnight expedition.

Day 5.

We spent a bit of time going over kit and what we would need and working out weather patterns then we were off it was about an hour’s drive. Again we each had a chance to lead and navigate different sections but this time we were expected to look after the group and keep interesting conversation about flora and fauna when it was our turn to lead. We reached our camp spot in the late afternoon and set up our tents I was sharing with two others and we had split the tent up between us, the camp site was quite high about 800 metres and we were expecting frost at night.

d. Buchanan (3)
After we had some dinner and a little rest we went out for some night navigation which was great fun.

Day 6.
After breakfast we packed up camp and set of we planned to do a couple more hours micro navigating then head back to the bus we got back to base mid afternoon then into the classroom and went over the week. After that we had the chance to chat with our instructors which was very good and they give us individually there thoughts on how we preformed during the week. Then it was time to say good bye.


A very enjoyable week and thank you to the Neil Mackenzie Trust.