Sunday, January 11, 2009

14th - 21st August 1972

14th August
Arrived during late afternoon and settled into the Old Town Hall.
The troop started with gentle walking exercise and climbing up to 1000 feet and down for the night.

15th August
The troop now started climbing exercises in earnest.
Climbing to the top of the 4084 feet Cairngorms, ridge walking for a while, then back down - an easy 3 hour exercise.
Disco dancing that evening, for those who had the energy to do so, limited on drinking, due to climbing in the morning.

16th August
The troop climbed back to the top of the Cairgorm, working by Compass.
Troop task was to locate the sunken Loch, which was found, only it was 2000 feet below.
After descending to the Loch, skirting around it and climbing back up 700 feet to locate another Loch, the troop rested for a short while.
Climbing up a further 1500 feet, to the top of Ben McDhui, Britain's second highest mountain.
After locating the "centre stones", the troop descended the steep 1:6 slope, to the car park and our vehicles.
It was a good Compass Navigation exercise.

During the exercise, the troop carried out various Safety Drills and Routines.
Splitting into groups of 3 or 4 men, roping to each other and practising a man falling over the edge, whilst the others recovered him.
The most dangerous was "Rim" walking, crossing the very top of the mountain ridges, exposed to the constant weather changes; these can occur very fast and without warning.
During one ridge walk, mist closed in very rapidly, the "Boss" got lost, we had to descend quickly, rest a short while and climb back up.

Halway up Ben McDhui, the cloudbase was just above us and below was spectacular scenery.
Three Quarters of the way up, we were level with the cloudbase, the scenery was just as spectacular, BUT, standing up, our heads were in the cloudbase and visibility was almost zero.
Navigating around large chunks of ice, the size of a house foundation, we reached the top; the view was of "fluffy" clouds below us, with sunshine glinting off it.

17th to 20th August
Time to practise Cliff Face Climbing.
Climbing up a sheer Cliff face, reaching up to 700 feet, some with overhangs.
Although we had "Safety Ropes", we still had to climb ourselves. At the bottom of the Cliff, we searched the cliff face, for a route up, finding narrow finger and foot holds, stopping every so often, to locate the route we wanted and climbing on.
Once on the top, we rested for a short while, then abseilled back down.
In places there was loose shale hugging the cliff sides, we practised using this for an emergency way down, jumping from one patch to another, sliding downwards quickly.
This was great fun, but very dangerous, we had to memorize the route from above - jump left, then right, then right again, etc. Jumping the wrong way, lead to a dangerous fall, rolling down the cliff face.

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