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Being able to navigate on skis or a board is often an overlooked skillset. For most of us it will be rarely used, we may choose to only tour on fair weather days or may be in the habit of following someone else’s tracks. Being a skillful navigator is often the key skill that unlocks the backcountry, allowing us to tour and explore more remote areas and not simply follow the existing tracks. Good navigation skills are also key to avalanche avoidance. Allain Duclos, the French Avalanche Expert is so convinced about the importance of navigation that his 3 tips for avoiding avalanches are: Maps, Maps and Maps! This 2 day navigation course is ideal for any ski tourer or freerider who has a very basic understand of navigating, it is also suitable to repeat this course as a refresher of your existing skill set.
Navigating effectively in winter on a pair of skis or a board is very challenging. We will breakdown the skills and knowledge of this complex task so that you over the day develop your own set of navigational tools. Mixing classroom theory sessions with on the hill practice is a great way to gain the knowledge required to effectively navigate in all conditions. We will endeavour to conduct a small ski journey that allows us to put into practice as many of the tools and techniques as possible. This will obviously be weather and condition dependent and will be tailored to suit the groups ability level. In order to maximise our teaching time we may plan to use the ski lifts on Cairngorm, please come with your pass or be prepared to purchase a suitable lift ticket.
Ski 2: You have been skiing for several weeks/years and are now confident on blue and red runs, controlling your speed by changing the size of your turns. Black runs are challenging but you are capable of skiing them under control by using skiddy turns perhaps with the occasional step or jump. Skiing off piste is a normal part of a days skiing but you are very much learning how to cope but mostly remaining upright. Your turns shape and size off-piste are very much dependent on the type of snow and terrain.
Mountain 2 – Experience of using touring bindings and skins is necessary. Some experience of ice axe and crampons may be necessary. For skiers, coping techniques such as side slipping and stem turns are essential and should be well practiced and reliable. Uphill and down hill kick turns may be familiar but require further practice.
Fitness 1 – As a skier you are capable of skiing all day with regular rests without noticing a significant drop in your technique through fatigue. You are capable of hiking in soft snow with skis on your back or skinning uphill for 2 – 3 hours (600 – 800m). A moderately heavy rucksack 5 – 8kgs will be carried during your course.
Our course content will be tailored to the individual needs of the group but will also take into account the weather and conditions. Listed below is a range of topics that we will be able to select from to aim to meet your needs and aspirations.
Navigational tools: compass, altimeter, gps, mobile phones etc
Maps and contours
Strategies for Navigation on skis/boards
Coping techniques for bad weather.
Once we have attached skins to our skis we will leave the car park and head out towards Coire Laogh Mor. This wide open bowl is perfect for you to learn how to use a compass and altimeter to navigate through the terrain. Your instructor will explain various tactics and navigational strategies which will help you venture further away from the obvious features and still remain geographically located! As you head further up the mountain and the snow cover gets thicker the instructor will introduce the use of digital mapping, either on your phone our on a handheld GPS. Mixing all these techniques with the correct strategies is the key to being a successful navigator and the Cairngorm plateau is the perfect practice venue. Of course the reason we are learning to navigate is so we can find the best snow for skiing and that is what you will do, navigate to the top of a great ski line.
This sample programme will give you a flavour of how this 2 day might run and is therefore only for guidance as the weather, conditions and student ability/experience will dictate the actual programme delivered.
Day 1: You will meet your at 09.00 hrs. and once everyone has been fitted out with the correct ski touring equipment they will lead a short planning. This is your opportunity to discuss your previous experience and your ambitions for the future. Once everyone is ready we will head up the ski road and most likely stop at the lower ski car park if the snow line is low enough.
Returning back to the Lodge have skied from summit to valley we will , over tea and cakes review the day and plan the next tour.
Day 2: Having planned a ski tour the previous night you will start the day quickly checking the weather and avalanche forecast to check that your plan is still achievable. One of the best day tours local to the Lodge is to ski to the top of Sgor Gaoith from Glen Feshie. This tour has lots of terrain features that will allow you to put in to practice the skills and strategies from yesterday and still get to ski from the summit of a munro.
Use of kit
Packed lunch and afternoon tea each day
Accommodation in an en-suite bedroom (available from 4pm on day before your course starts). If booking as an Individual, you will not be asked to share with a stranger.
Breakfast on each course day (except one day and back-to-back courses).
Dinner on each course day (except the final day, and on one day or back-to-back courses).
Use of the facilities at Glenmore Lodge.
Linen is provided along with a towel, you may wish to bring an extra towel if you would like to use the facilities.
The key to happiness and enjoyment in ski touring is having the right equipment so you can cope with whatever the environment throws at you. At Glenmore Lodge we are extremely fortunate to be partnered with Atomic skis and Scarpa ski boots. These partnerships allow us to maintain a modern range of ski touring boots and skis in our purpose built ski store, giving you the opportunity to try before you buy.
* Starred Items are available to borrow from GL Stores
Can't find exactly what you are looking for? We are happy to create it for you. You can hire one of our instructors or guides from as little as £280 a day, including any equipment. If you’re a group, all of our courses are available on a date that suits you or if you would prefer we can tailor a course to your requirements. Simply get in touch to discuss your requirements.