5 Reasons the Wild Ski Weekend should be on your Winter Agenda
Amy Marwick has been guiding groups at the Wild Ski Weekend since its inception in 2018. Here’s her round up of why an authentic Scottish ski adventure should be your top priority for the upcoming winter.
Google the word adventure and you will find a definition akin to… An exhilarating experience, the undertaking of which may be bold and risky. Dancing across a rocky outcrop and peering through the mist after a low viz but decisively smooth descent down the south side of Cairngorm, I’m reminded that Scottish skiing falls into the adventure category…
Ski Touring in Scotland
Guiding groups in Scotland has always filled me with an anxious excitement. The terrain is vast and beautiful, the snow pack is extremely varied, and the weather is constantly changing. This can make for some challenging conditions to negotiate, but the opportunity to guide groups at the Glenmore Lodge Wild Ski Weekend for the last six winters has taught me a lot about seeking out safe routes and scoring turns in the wildest weather. Heather bashing, sleet bracing, rock hopping, and wind battling are all on the cards, but the Smarties-coloured bunch of ski tourers grinning at me through the mist tells me some adventures are more than worth the effort. And you never know when that sunshine might turn up, just for the craic.
What is the Wild Ski Weekend?
The Wild Ski weekend has now been running for six years. Every March, Glenmore Lodge welcomes ski tourers of all abilities to a ski touring festival, which in authentic Scottish style, carries on whatever the weather. Luckily the second weekend in March seems to be an alarm bell for winter – “I’m not quite done snowing yet!”. Every year we’ve had a sudden flurry of snow (and even some sunshine), enabling an exciting program, guiding groups across the Cairngorms and introducing them to the wilds of Scottish ski touring. Where the saying “earn your turns” comes into its true meaning.
Here’s 5 reasons why the Wild Ski Weekend 2024 should be top of your agenda this winter…
1. For the adventure, Highland style
The Scottish ski experience is an organic and rugged affair. It offers real opportunity to connect with the majesty of the Highland landscape (bonus facial exfoliation included as standard). The thrill of adventuring in your own backyard is a huge draw for many of the skiers that join us at Wild Ski. And with the price of travel abroad sky rocketing, simply heading north for the weekend could be a great option to flex ski-starved muscles this season.
2. To learn in a real environment
The Cairngorms are well known for their unforgiving winds and fast changing weather conditions, but Wild Ski offers an opportunity to journey through a potentially bleak and hostile environment with the guidance of passionate and highly trained leaders, along with a cohort of cheery ski tourers. The weather forecast may be on your side or it may sound gloomy; but I can guarantee that once you’re out there, with views across Loch Morlich and beyond, it’s never quite as bad as you imagined. Learning how to manage difficult weather and choose a safe route proves there are always options for getting out on skis.
3. To learn to deal with all snow conditions
Keen to expand your ski territory but not sure how to tackle unfamiliar snow conditions?
So often, I have clients who find challenging snow intimidating. But the nature of skiing in Scotland means that encountering a range of different snow conditions are more than likely on a one-day tour. The Wild Ski guides have top tips for mastering everything from sticky slush to wind battered ice. The saying, ‘If you can ski Scotland you can ski anywhere’, really comes into its own. You’ll also get the chance to test out Atomic ski touring equipment and Rab outerwear. This is a great chance to push yourself out of your comfort zone in a fun learning environment. And there’s cake!
4. For the craic, the banter, the high fives and smiles
There is a devoted community that has long built up around skiing in Scotland. These days, on a sunny morning, you’re likely to see tourers numbering in their tens and twenties making the approach to Cairngorm summit. There’s no doubt I’ll see a familiar face (or ten) frothing over a powder day, or just a handful of well-deserved turns. It would be difficult not to be inspired by this committed bunch. The Wild Ski Weekend is a great opportunity to meet likeminded winter adventure seekers and plan your own spring tours over a beer. The snow conditions in Scotland are usually shaping up by March and the springtime opportunities are endless for those willing to make plans and take a hike.
5. To prepare for getting out there for yourself
The Wild Ski Weekend offers guiding for groups at all different levels. First time tourers can enjoy exploring deep frozen valleys and learning top tactics for managing new equipment. Whilst the more experienced can test their grit on classic gully descents. There’s something for everyone, with guides on hand to introduce you to the Scottish environment and allow you to gather the necessary beta for giving it a go on your own steam. The Wild Ski is a great progression session, preparing you for adventures abroad or introducing you to a different side to skiing. It gives you the chance to learn new skills, understand decision making, and gain better knowledge for your own adventure.
I’ve been thrilled to lead an all-women’s group on each of the Wild Ski weekends so far. The all-female environment may appeal to those looking for a different learning experience that offers a change from the often male-dominated arena of outdoor pursuits.
With the silencing of traditional gender roles, I’ve noticed some of the women are more assertive, asking questions, and speaking up with their own opinions. It’s a great way to build confidence and enjoy some female company outdoors! For myself, I’ve found it a great platform to build my confidence as a leader and be inspired by the other women leading the groups. It’s great to see more courses like this being rolled out as an option and with a healthy uptake.
“It’s great to be part of a group where you can say what you feel, listen, and support each other. No-one has a “Big Agenda” or something to prove – I can be Me. This is why I chose a female only course and for the third year running. If only such courses were around 30 years ago. Sometimes you just want some female company!” – Helen, 57, Wild Ski Weekend 2023
“In general, I’ve always thought that I prefer being in mixed groups for both the social aspect and due to the belief that I would be pushed or push myself more in that situation. But having had this experience I realise that these beliefs are not necessarily true. I had loads of laughs, enjoyed the banter, top notch camaraderie, and the whole group really pushed each other on and supported each other when it was necessary.” – Cat, 38, Wild Ski Weekend 2023