Just days before the country went into Covid-19 induced lockdown, Fall-Line’s own Amy Marwick made her way from her winter base in the snowy Haute Savoie to Glenmore Lodge in the Scottish Highlands for the 3rd edition of the Wild Ski Weekend. Leaving behind snow-covered mountains to purposefully head to the rather less white world of the Cairngorms may sound like craziness to some, but even the wildest of haggis couldn’t keep Amy away from this event. In this article she explains why the Wild Ski Weekend has become a permanent annual fixture in her guiding diary and why it should be on your backcountry bucket list too.
“Google the word adventure and you will find a definition akin to… an exhilarating experience, the undertaking of which may be bold and risky. Bounding across the heather in my ski boots after a successful descent down Tom’s gully in Glenfeshie (one of three gullies… Tom, Dick and Harry) during this year’s Wild Ski Weekend, I’m reminded once again that Scottish skiing always falls into the adventure category.
Guiding groups in Scotland has always fills me with an anxious excitement. The terrain is vast and beautiful, the snow pack is often thin and varied, and the weather is constantly changing. This can make for some challenging conditions, and whilst the opportunity to guide groups at the Glenmore Lodge Wild Ski Weekend for the last three winters has definitely helped me develop as a guide, it’s that satisfying feeling that comes from shared adventures and the focus on fun that keeps me coming back.
If you’re into earning your turns, learning new skills, meeting great folk and are partial to the odd dram, then you need to put the Wild Ski Weekend right to the top of your list of ski objectives for winter 2021. Need more convincing?
Here’s 6 reasons why you need to get involved:
A HIGHLAND HOME ADVENTURE
The Scottish ski experience is an organic and rugged affair, offering a 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 the Wild Ski Weekend, and this may become even more relevant in a post covid-19 world where foreign travel may take some time to settle.
AN AUTHENTIC LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
The Cairngorms are well known for their unforgiving winds and fast changing weather conditions, but the Wild Ski Weekend 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 fellow ski tourers. The weather forecast may sound gloomy but once you’re out there it’s never quite as bad as you imagined. Learning how to manage difficult weather and choosing safe routes proves there are always options for outdoor pursuits – no matter how gnarly it looks out there. With the right skills in your toolbox and the necessary will, you can always find a way to have fun!
LEARN TO MASTER TRICKY SNOW CONDITIONS
The old saying ‘if you can ski in Scotland, you can ski anywhere’ may sound like a cliché but it’s true! Many of my clients find challenging snow intimidating so this weekend offers a great opportunity to gain experience and confidence in a range of different conditions from sticky slush to wind battered ice. With expert advice and tips from the Wild Ski guides, plus the opportunity to tackle the goods aboard some of the best skis in the biz (Black Crows sponsor the event), you’re guaranteed to grow as a skier in a safe environment. Plus there’s cake at the end of the day. And we all know cake makes everything ok.
The Wild Ski Weekend is a great opportunity to get involved with the growing, passionate Scottish ski community and meet likeminded winter adventure seekers, share a beer and plan your own spring tours. The snow conditions in Scotland are usually shaping up by March so it’s a great time to seek out enthusiastic buddies with similar ambitions, experience and risk-acceptance levels for springtime backcountry banter.
THE RIGHT LEVEL – FOR YOU
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 and with guides on hand to introduce you to the Scottish environment you can safely gather the necessary beta to give it a go under your own steam in the future.
The Wild Ski Weekend 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 relax with a guide making all the decisions, so you can keep your mind open to learning new skills and gaining better knowledge for your own adventure time.
I’ve been thrilled to lead the women’s-specific courses on all of the Wild Ski weekends so far, named the Birdie courses after Black Crows female ski range. The single sex environment often appeals to those looking to mix things up with a different style of learning experience. With the silencing of traditional gender roles things loosen up a bit and I’ve noticed many of the women in my groups becoming more assertive, asking questions, speaking up and having confidence in their own opinions.
I really enjoy encouraging, enabling and inspiring other women to venture into the outdoors and seeing them grow as skiers and people. On a personal level, guiding these groups have been fantastic in helping to build my own confidence as a leader and learn from the other women leading the groups. It’s great to see more courses like this being rolled out as an option for ladies and the super healthy uptake is proof of their validity.
“It’s great to be part of a group where you can say what you feel, listen and support each other and 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 2nd year running. If only such courses were around 30 years ago. Sometimes you just want some female company!”
Helen, Birdie Course, Wild Ski Weekend 2020
Overview: 2 days of guided wild skiing adventure in the Cairngorms, based out of Glenmore Lodge with a Saturday evening apres ski, hearty dinner and (optional) wild party complete with Black Crows themed menu and a live band.
Dates: 20th and 21st of March 2021
Cost: From £320
How to book: Head over to the Glenmore Lodge website and check out the Wild Ski Weekend page which gives details on the different courses available for booking depending on your level.
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