Exercise Bavarian Wanderer II was an extremely successful level 3 Adventure Training exercise in the spectacular Bavarian Alps, for forty personnel from Tayforth UOTC. The aim of the exercise was to build on training which the Officer Cadets taking part in the exercise had received over the course of the year, namely to work on individual physical robustness and confidence, whilst building on their team work, navigational skills and exercise planning. All of these aims were easily attained.
The exercise had a number of different elements to it. Group one undertook Distributed Training working towards their BCU 3 star kayaking award with Hans Felder. This course was hard work, with the team practicing their skills and drills daily, as well as gaining more experience on fast water, undertaking self rescue, “Eskimo” rolls, as well as gaining more understanding of the environment and weather, a very successful week culminated in Joshua Hall achieving the 3 star qualification. Another group undertook, and achieved, the Rock Climbing Foundation course with Tomaz Zerovnik. This took a group of six Officer Cadets, who had little or no experience of rock climbing, and pushed them to undertake a number of climbs, ranging from relatively easy grade 3 to more arduous 6+ climbs, which really tested all who undertook it. This was a very successful phase of the exercise with all six personnel passing their RCF.
The remainder of the groups undertook a round robin of Rock Climbing, Hill Walking and Mountain Biking, all of which presented different challenges to those taking part.
The Bavarian Alps is perhaps one of the most beautiful areas to go walking in Europe. The scenery is fantastic, the routes well marked, the people are very friendly, and there are plenty of high alpine cafes for refreshments along the way. The week began with Gareth Smith taking the groups up the reverse side of the Grunten. This would have been a very spectacular walk, had the rain not been coming in horizontally. It was a very wet group who climbed into the mini bus that afternoon. Day two was far more successful, with a fantastic climb around the Riedbergerhorn summit (1787m). This was a hard slog to gain the height, but once up on top of the ridge, the difficulty subsided, and the Bavarian sun became friend rather than foe. The sights of the surrounding mountains was breathtaking, explaining why tourists travel around the world to see them. Day three was an ascent of Wannenkopf (1712m) and Weicherkopf, once again this was a fantastic day, with spectacular views of the surrounding German and Austrian landscape. The final day walk set off from Oberjoch along the panoramaweg to the summit of the Wertacherhorn. This was another wet day, and there were some steep and muddy parts on the way, but morale stayed high.
Neil Beattie looked after the rock climbing for the groups and he certainly challenged the vast majority, pushing people past their comfort zones and bringing the group together as part of a team. The climbs they undertook ranged from indoor climbing, due to the adverse weather conditions, to significantly more difficult single pitch climbs which challenged even those who had a lot of climbing experience. By the end of the week, most people were confident enough to scale taxing 30m plus rock faces on climbs of 4 to 5+, with high degrees of difficulty which was no mean feat.
The final discipline of mountain biking was one which everyone who undertook it thoroughly enjoyed. Ok, maybe they did not all love the huge slogs up the very steep hills, with their bikes, to get to the top of the various hills, but once on the way down all of this was forgotten for the pure adrenaline rush which they experienced. As this was a new experience for most, Andrew Inglis took the groups through the basics of mountain biking, getting to grips with, and destroying in some cases, the gears on their bikes, before setting off around the local area, and finally up a couple of cheeky wee ascents/descents. In the words of one officer cadet “best days ever and I will definitely be taking up mountain biking when I get back to Uni”.
The culmination of the AT Phase was a fantastic day white water rafting in Austria. This was something which the group had been looking forward to all week, and it did not disappoint. The water was high and very fast flowing, and each of the crews worked really hard getting to grips with the techniques involved in steering their crafts through the various rapids they encountered, whilst at the same time trying to fend off being boarded and capsized by the other boats.
All those who undertook this fantastic trip would like to thank the Ulysses Trust, without whose support, it would have been far more difficult to have undertaken this experience which expanded all who undertook it.