Cairngorms Climbing Weekend

The first weekend in October saw us break new ground with a group of SiMY young people heading off to the Cairngorms for a weekend of climbing activities which we’d organised with support from Climb Scotland, the project established by Mountaineering Scotland to encourage young people into climbing.

Given it was our first time running a residential like this, we’d opted to keep numbers fairly small, so we had 10 young people and 3 adult volunteers; Neil and Cat to sort out the climbing activities and evening programme, and Fiona as chief cook and bottle washer, organiser of packed lunches and general ‘base camp’ boss.

After a quick pit stop in Perth for dinner on the way, we arrived at our digs for the weekend around 9pm. We’d booked into the Cairngorm Christian Centre in Kincraig, which we’ve used for a number of residentials in the past, as it’s a pleasant, easy to manage venue run by folks who generally go out of their way to make life easy for their customers.  The kids soon got themselves settled into their rooms, and we chilled out for the remainder of the evening until heading off to kip around 11pm.

We’d watched the weather forecast deteriorating in the week running up to the trip, and sure enough, we woke to a dreich Saturday morning, which meant Plan B was in operation: a visit to the climbing wall at Glenmore Lodge. It’s a fairly compact venue, but it’s been well designed to make good use of the available space, and gives lots of scope for a day’s activity. We met up with Rob from Climb Scotland and split into two groups; Rob taking some of the younger group into the climbing wall for some coaching, while Neil did some work on anchors, knots and fall factors with the older group in the Stores area. After a quick lunch, we swapped groups, with Rob working on lead climbing and belaying with the older group and Neil looking after the younger group while they put the morning’s coaching into practice on some of the available routes.

Everyone was fairly tired by the end of the afternoon, but we still found the energy to visit the beach at Loch Morlich for a bit, before heading back to Kincraig for dinner and the evening’s entertainment; a climbing trivia quiz, followed by a viewing of ‘Citadel’ to get everyone in the mood for the impending winter months!

Sunday morning’s weather was much improved, and we were able to head over to Kingussie Crag to get some outdoor climbing done. Rob put in a massive shift ‘up top’ setting up ropes for multiple climbs, while the kids made the most of the opportunity to climb at a new venue, testing their skills (and flexibility) on some fairly challenging climbs.

They were having so much fun that we managed to overshoot our intended finish time by nearly an hour, resulting in a fairly hurried return to the vehicles and a brisk (but legal!) return journey back to Glasgow to eventually arrive all of 5 minutes late, which is better than we normally do just coming back from the outskirts of Glasgow.

We’ve been running a regular climbing group for around a year now, building on the great work done by several of our young adults to secure the funding to buy the kit we needed to get the group started, and we’re now in the situation where we’re looking at how to run at least one more session, as the existing group is massively over-subscribed. Alongside the evening groups, we also deliver sessions for both the local primary and secondary schools, which tie into various other developmental activities for the young people, including DofE award, Youth Achievement awards and so on. If you’d like to get involved in the climbing activities either as a young person or as an adult, please get in touch, as we’d be delighted to hear from you. Sessions are available for people of all abilities, including taster sessions if you’ve never climbed before but fancy giving it a go!