Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Donegal Mountain Leader Training

 Having recently passed their Mountain Skills Assessment four eager troopers embarked upon the five day Mountain Leader Training Course. All four of the troops are members of the Donegal Mountain Rescue Team and so we began a tour of the sun baked county of Donegal.
 The first half of the course was based in Ardara and the little known Slievetooey Peninsula was our first port of call. Two days of steep ground group management, micro/macro day and night navigation and a long session on ML emergency rope work, we were ready to up sticks and move to the uplands of Derryveagh.
 For the second half of the course we paid a day visit to the north face of Dooish and we spent the day with each person taking turns to seek out single contour features amid steep ground with myself being an extremely unhelpful client. After a further rope work session and many silent curses aimed at my good self we were back at sea level and preparing for the final component of the ML training syllabus, the two day expedition.  

Errigal from summit of Dooish

Single contour feature navigation

Team on Dooish Summit 

Steep ground group management

 The final part of the training course involves a two day expedition with an over night wild camp and so, with rumours of a temporary cafe on Donegal's highest point, we ascended the north ridge of Errigal with our huge overnight rucksacks in search of Fat Chef Slim. Alas by the time we had traversed the mountain the hordes had eaten all the stew and so we defaulted to our sandwiches! 
 Our campsite for the evening was the majestic Lough Altan, and so after lunch we pressed on over the Mackoght and Beaghy summits to descend to our temporary home for the night.
 An evening rope work session and a midnight navigation exercise in our glorious surroundings and it was time for bed.
 The following day we walked out via Procklis seeking out further micro and macro features to arrive back at the vehicles in the mid afternoon, just as the rains arrived. Our timing could not have been better as we had spent the previous four days in baking sunshine. :-)
 A session in the rain on river crossings and a debrief and our four happy troops are now preparing for their assessments.

Errigal North Ridge 

Errigal North ridge, steep crux

Lough Altan campsite

Campsite with castle

Classic Aluvial Fan on Aghla Mor

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