At the beginning of February, 13 members of the RGS Guildford CCF landed in a snowy and cold Munich to begin a winter skills training programme based in the Allgau region of Germany. Having had a team photo with both Ussein Bolt and Mel C, who were both on the plane, the team headed out on the journey to their accommodation in Sonthofen.
On Day 1, the team braved temperatures in the -20°Cs to complete a day’s training in alpine skiing at the Nebelhorn ski area. Instructors Glyn and Claudia put the cadets (and staff!) through their paces on-piste to ensure that everybody had the skills for the off-piste training later on in the week. The team assembled early on the second morning at the launglaufing skiing stadium in Oberstdorf having exchanged their alpine skis for cross-country equipment. This was a new activity for most of the cadets but via a series of skills exercises and games they were soon ready for an expedition to the base of the Fellhorn and back. Temperatures were cold but everybody was quickly warmed up by the exertion of the route that seemed uphill all of the way. After a hot chocolate stop, the team were ready to continue the journey, finding the return downhill less energetic although speed control was an issue on the icy tracks! The next two days were spent on a snowshoe ascent of the Wannenkopf with a night in a mountain hut on the way. 1.5m of fresh powder made for an energetic ascent rewarded with a superb view from the summit. During the hours of darkness the team used flaming torches to illuminate their journey! On reaching the hut, the team built snow shelters and practised recovering objects using avalanche transceivers. Having descended by the mid-afternoon of the second expedition day there was time for some R and R in the form of a 5km sledge descent of the Hornbahn. A gondola whisked the team to the summit which was followed by a very fast descent on traditional rodels. The cadets negotiated the hairpin bends with varying levels of success but all reached the bottom safely.
The final two days of the expedition found the team back on alpine skis at the Fellhorn and Sollereck ski area. The powder was deep and light and the team all enjoyed the descents. The visit to the Sollereck ski area was a first for the Contingent – this year hurricane force winds closed all other ski areas. The Sollereck boasts to have the longest drag lift in Germany, which although useful on the day, is not normally deemed to be great marketing trait for a ski area!
The team returned to the UK having had an excellent week’s training where they had improved old skills, learned many new ones with everybody proving that they can rise to the challenge when required.
Thanks must go to the Ulysses Trust for their generous grant which contributed to making this very worthwhile experience viable.