Welcome home card

Welcome home card

Mark Chadwick, the Course Director for my Winter Mountain Leader (WML) assessment, passed my logbook across the table. There was a new red sticker in the WML section.

 

I had passed.

 

Primarily I was relieved, but then wondered what to do next. Better go and pack up and leave, was my conclusion. Clearly the culmination of six weeks was a huge anticlimax, but I was profoundly glad that the process had come to a happy end.

 

During the assessment, I was reminded of the Kraken, a mythical sea monster that is said to have ambushed ships and consumed their crews. Another candidate, Lucy Wallace of Wild on Arran, who passed the week before, had also described the process like a sudden, but expected, attack by demons:

 

There is a demon waiting out there in the storm for every prospective winter ML candidate.  You know it is coming, but you have to wait to learn how and when it will attack.

 

Although the weather was wild on the first day when it became hard to see fellow candidates in the blizzard carrying out their ice axe arrest skills 10 metres down on a slope, I felt we were given a reprieve on the expedition. Navigation plays a big part in the assessment, and although we had low visibility, walking in cloud predominantly, there were no winds to deal with at the critical points.

 

Tennyson wrote a sonnet about the Kraken, but interestingly in the poem the beast remains hidden in the depths, silent, still and waiting. Only one day will it awake and roar to the surface. We had escaped the Kraken – the weather beasts had granted us safe passage, but they are still out there waiting for the unwary…

 

So there ends the mini-chronicle of the highland hobo. Hopefully most of my walking will now be in and out from climbing routes and leading clients and friends in winter conditions!

Categories: Blog, NGBs, Personal, Simon, Winter
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