The charity St John Scotland and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) have announced a joint initiative to provide safety and skills instruction to university mountaineering clubs during the winter season of 2015-16.
David Gibson, Chief Officer of the MCofS, explained why the scheme is needed:
'University mountaineering clubs can be a great way of introducing young people to the challenges of Scotland’s hills and crags' he said.
'However, the time between joining a university club and getting out in winter conditions is relatively short and the consequences for the inexperienced can be serious.'
Under the plan St John Scotland will fund a mountaineering instructor to work directly with student clubs. Instruction will take place at club meets, using climbers’ huts as their base. The programme is expected to cover a range of activities including navigation, use of equipment, and techniques for making safe progress in winter conditions.
St John Scotland is dedicated to helping others through medical and rescue activities. Since 1997 it has donated almost £3.5 million to Scottish mountain rescue, providing 13 bases and vehicles for 27 rescue teams. The charity has now embarked on a programme of replacing older vehicles. It has also provided boats for two Scottish rescue boat services.
Sir Malcolm Ross, who heads St John Scotland said:
'Our mountains in winter often provide little margin for error: our aim in supporting this initiative is to ensure that students have a unique opportunity to receive qualified instruction during club meets. We believe this offers significant opportunities for both individual and group learning, and will encourage good practice in club activities.'
St John Scotland and the MCofS will start recruiting for the mountaineering instructor in Spring 2015, with the initial appointment covering the period August 2015 to March 2016. This activity will complement the MCofS’ current range of winter courses and seminars for university clubs.