The Lake District for most will be the first mountain trip that a cadet is to embark on during his/her cadet career. The first phase of the new 241 Mountain Training Scheme is Beginners Lakes, where cadets spend their first week in the mountains in Glenridding. For three days, the cadets learn how to navigate through the mountains before they set out on their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s award expedition. The cadets are required to travel 25 km (15m) over the period of two days, carrying all of their equipment including tents, clothes, food etc.Once a cadet has completed Beginners Lakes they may wish to pursue their interest with Mountaineering and attempt the 241 Summer Mountain Proficiency. If a cadet develops a love for the mountains, they can join the Mountaineering team which will provide them with the opportunity to walk in Scotland and even venture abroad in an overseas expedition.
Scotland is home to the only area in the British Isles still classified as having arctic conditions and it is no surprise that the Mountaineering Team regularly carry out trips to this wintry haven more commonly known as the Cairngorms. Centred around the famed Cairngorm ski resort are a number of locations where the Mountaineering Team learn and develop the skills of the winter mountaineer. Everything learned during trips to the Lake District and Wales in summer conditions is put to the test in the most extreme way possible. Not only are these among the best trips the squadron runs, cadets find that the hair raising conditions that they find themselves in are great for character building and team bonding. Despite largely being a mountaineering trip, the Mountaineering Team socialises and forms close bonds which are put to the test when your safety depends on the competence of your climbing partner. The Team is also presented with the opportunity to go ice climbing on an indoor wall, an exhilarating experience; climbers really feel the adrenaline rush when they are halfway up a vertical wall of ice and are hanging off by a few inches of ice axe and crampon!!Trips to Scotland offer an introduction to winter alpinism; from here we can take our skills to the highest levels possible. After a few trips in winter conditions cadets are eligible to apply for their winter mountaineering proficiency certificate which in itself is an achievement showing that the bearer is a confident and knowledgeable mountaineer, which is no mean feat. Once you reach this high level, you can take your experience to the max by commencing your Winter Mountain Leader training, and eventually being assessed in attempt to receive this award. The Winter ML is awarded by the British Mountaineering Council as a sign of their recognition towards someone’s skills in the mountains, it also means that the holder can lead groups into conditions even extremer than those experienced in the Cairngorms.
Progression in summer mountaineering proficiency can be carried out in Wales, however on the squadron it is more commonly known as the place where we hold our multi-activity and flight weekends. Because of the unique terrain experienced in Wales we are able to hold a number of fun filled activities including rock climbing, mountain biking and canoeing. Despite this wide array of choices some still choose to go walking. The Snowdonia National Park is home to some of the most technical mountain ascents, at low levels which is both convenient and safe for the cadets. In the Lake District you’d find yourself walking along nice paths on a hot day, but in Wales it is more often than not the severe opposite. The ascents of these mountains normally involve, using your hands and your feet to climb up, down and across over steep terrain, and not in the best weather!!
The flight weekends are an important aspect in keeping flights together as a close group of friends. Although much of the day is spent outdoors doing various activities the evenings are left free for cadets to socialise and interact.