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Cairngorms expedition

Cairngorms expedition
#CanfordCCF #CanfordExplore #CanfordExcel

Canford CCF Cairngorms expedition – 19-25 February 2022

During the half term break, ten current CCF NCOs headed up to the Cairngorms on the inaugural CCF expedition to the Scottish Highlands. This trip was designed as a challenging but rewarding expedition for the Lower Sixth along similar lines to the Fourth Form Cross Country ski trips to Norway. Not even Storm Eunice could thwart the expedition, albeit the group did have to delay setting off to avoid travelling at the peak of the storm.

The group was very fortunate to have Andrew Wilkinson from Dynamis Adventures as lead instructor for the trip. Previously a housemaster at Wellington and in charge of their Royal Marines CCF section, he now runs a charity providing personal development through adventurous experiences for young people. With expedition experience including Everest, Greenland and the Alps, he also has a passion for leading groups in the mountains closer to home.

Daily activity was dependent on weather and snow conditions, but the group were able to learn mountain skills such as use of ice axe and crampons, navigation/ route selection and avalanche awareness and journeyed to the summit of several of the spectacular Munros at 3000+ft.   

Regular updates were shared on the dedicated Canford CCF Instagram account.  Please head to the social media feed canfordsch_ccf for a full round up of photos and accounts, but here are a few of the highlights: 

Day 1

“A great first day as an introduction to the winter mountain environment, with a bit of everything - sunshine, driving snow, wonderful views, first times with crampons and ice axes, plus a fair few snowballs ‘exchanged’…

After a hearty dinner to replace the calories burned we enjoyed an inspiring talk from Simon the instructor about his journey from a trip such as this to an epic unsupported expedition to Greenland. Stand by for a rush of holiday and gap year adventures from the team…”

Day 2

“An ascent of A’ Chailleach above Newtonmore - at 930m our first Munro!*

Other highlights included sightings of deer and arctic hares, first use of snowshoes in anger and amazing views over the surrounding mountains.

More fun to come tomorrow as we keep a careful eye on the weather and snow conditions…

* a Munro is a Scottish mountain peak above 3000 feet. One down, 281 to go!”

Day 3

“Fun at Coire na Ciste on the side of the Cairngorms. Ice axe arrests, climbing up steeper ground and a successful summit bid on Cairn Gorm at 1245m. A high point of the expedition despite driving snow - goggles were a must!”

Day 4

“Atrocious weather today with 70mph+ winds, sub-zero temperatures, blizzard conditions and considerable avalanche threat. We went through a decision-making exercise to see what factors to consider and what might be possible.  With the conditions just too bad to do something meaningful we switched to Plan B and a great visit to Fort George near Inverness.”

We are very grateful to the support by the Ulysses Trust and HQ RC Cadet Adventure Training who made this fantastic experience possible.

Thank you to Lower Sixth pupil Lucas for creating this fantastic video sharing some of the highlights during the trip: