A group from 100 Regt RA(V) consisting of reservists took part in “Ex White Centurion” a Novice Skiing Expedition to the Zillertal area of Austria. The Exped was based in Zell am Ziller which enabled us to make full use of 668KM of Piste. This was purely a novice based expedition with the aim of teaching reserve soldiers to ski with a view to them progressing through the JS Ski Scheme.
After an epic 25hr journey from the UK, we arrived into the exercise area and settled into our accommodation, followed by the required safety briefs and fitting of equipment to individuals. The first days skiing took place in the Kaltenback area which proved to be challenging to even those who may have had some skiing experience, but after some careful selection individuals were allocated into groups for the remainder of the week.
On the second day we headed into Mayerhofen to ski the Ahorn. This is an excellent area which fully suits novice skiers – by the end of day 2 everyone was moving well on their skis. It was decided that the ability was there to ski down off the mountain – this route proved to be a challenging red, but everyone reached the bottom in safety. We returned to the Ahorn on the 3rd day to be greeted by some extreme weather conditions. Most sane people had decided early on that this was not a skiing day, but hey, we were Adventure Training so we remained on the snow. Conditions did not improve – if anything they got worse with whiteout conditions remaining for most of the day and temperatures down to -25°C with the wind chill factor.
Day 4 was going to be the most challenging day to date as we decided that it was time for the novices to be introduced to the Hintertuk Glacier at an elevation of 3476m. On arrival the temperature at the summit was displayed as -21°C and we could see the snow being blown off the top. This proved to be a day of extreme skiing with temperatures reaching -35°C at the top of the glacier. The experience of skiing at this elevation is one which lingers in most individuals minds for a long time to come. It brings new challenges and the full understanding of mountain hazards is essential if you are to ski safely in these extremes. All in the group managed to do so.
Day 5 was test day with all skiers having to demonstrate that they have aquired the required skills to pass the assessment. The assessment was held on the Penken area and all but two passed 1st time. However after some additional training and coaching we had a full house and all were awarded Ski Foundation 1 (SF1).
The last day of the expedition was spent touring as much of the area as we could ski, once again pushing the boundaries of individual comfort zones. The next challenge is to progress individuals onto the next level and into Ski Touring next season.