The St John Scotland Mountain Safety Instructor scheme, which has seen hundreds of students learn potentially lifesaving safe mountaineering skills, has been extended for a further two years.
St John Scotland has funded the post of Mountain Safety Instructor, which is hosted by Mountaineering Scotland, since 2015. In that time more than 340 young people from 12 university mountaineering, climbing and hillwalking clubs have received safety training led by experienced mountaineer Nick Carter.
Nick takes the courses in some of the country’s most challenging mountain terrain, including the An Teallach area, Cairngorms, Glencoe, Creag Meagaidh, and Lochaber.
In winter, students are taught skills including avalanche awareness, ice axe arrest and cramponing, while training during the autumn and spring months provides the chance to learn scrambling and rock climbing. Nick also helps the clubs brush up on their navigation skills, and advises on choosing the right kit for the conditions.
Now, together with Mountaineering Scotland, we have committed to extending the project further, enabling more young people to learn how to keep themselves safe on the mountains.
St John Scotland Mountain Safety Instructor Nick Carter said: “I’m very pleased that the project has been extended. I’m looking forward to working with more university and college groups across the country, and helping to make sure the groups feel prepared to lead expeditions safely.
“I really enjoy working with the clubs, and helping them to learn to enjoy the Scottish mountain environment in a safe way. And I’m sure in the long run the project will help reduce accidents in the hills.”
Students who have attended the training weekends so far have rated their experience highly. Ross Brannigan, a student from University of Stirling, said: “We had an incredible experience with Nick in the hills surrounding Torridon in March. We learned a massive amount in terms of planning, navigation, analysing risk and working as a team.”
Given the success of the project, it was something both we and Mountaineering Scotland were keen to extend.
Angus Loudon, Executive Director of St John Scotland, said: “We are delighted with Nick’s work over the past three years as the St John Scotland Mountain Safety Instructor. At St John Scotland we have a long established link with mountain safety, having been one of the biggest supporters of Scottish Mountain Rescue teams for the past two decades. Our continued support for this project will help to strengthen that link.
“The training Nick provides will help keep a whole generation of young climbers in Scotland safe, and we look forward to continuing to work with him and the team at Mountaineering Scotland to build on the success of the project so far.”
Mountaineering Scotland CEO Stuart Younie said: “Promoting safety in the Scottish Mountains is one of our core priorities and we are delighted to be continuing our successful partnership with St John Scotland to extend this project. Nick takes an innovative approach going out to work directly with student clubs to provide them an opportunity to learn valuable new skills but in a fun and accessible way.
"This project has been a great addition to our mountain safety training programme and we hope many more students benefit from the experience of working with Nick and go on to enjoy the Scottish mountains whilst keeping themselves safe.”
You can read more about the St John Scotland Mountain Safety Instructor here.