Exercise BAVARIAN CASTLE 2019 was a fantastic two week level three Adventure Training exercise conducted by the City of Edinburgh UOTC over the period 24 July to 04 August 2019, for 34 members of the unit. The aim of this exercise was to continue with the leadership and development of those attending, working on areas such as team building, individual self confidence, physical and mental robustness, exercise planning as well as giving everyone the opportunity to experience the fantastic Bavarian countryside. All of these aims and more were achieved.
After a marathon mini bus trip from Edinburgh to Wertach the Officer Cadets were able to take part in some round robin activities for the first few days, allowing them to experience some hillwalking, kayaking, klettersteiging, rock climbing or mountain biking. This certainly blew off the cobwebs from the long trip and everyone started to acclimatise to the 30 degree heat which we as peely wally Scots are certainly not used to. They then had the chance to undertake a fantastic water sports day which included a superb trip to Haiming in Austria, white water rafting. The water was high and very cold but this only added to the excitement and everyone worked as a team to make sure they navigated the many rapids successfully. This was followed by an excellent afternoon at the Area 47 water park nearby.
Day four of the exercise saw selected Officer Cadets broken down into groups to undertake a number of Distributed Training courses in Rock Climbing, Trekking and Kayaking.
The Rock Climbing was conducted by Lt Col Nick Ord, our Commanding Officer, and he put the group through their paces, teaching them how to belay safely and then taking them on various grades of rock climbs ranging from relatively easy to extremely challenging 6+ climbs. A number of those who undertook this challenge had never climbed before and had a fear of heights and it is to the bosses credit and the officer cadets that all six passed the Rock Climbing Single Pitch foundation course.
The Kayaking course was run by one of the Way beyond instructors, Dejan ????? and this was another excellent adventure for six Officer Cadets, who undertook some basic paddling on a lake near to the lodge before progressing to a number of days paddling down the River Iller, which was really quite challenging as there had been quite a lot of rain fall, so the rivers were relatively fast flowing, and the water levels were quite high. The group learnt the basic techniques for paddling, such as draw strokes and confidence techniques before practicing capsizing drills and rescue scenarios and undertaking day long expeditions to gain experience.
The final Distributed Training Course was run by Jen McKeown and this was a Summer Mountain Foundation course and this involved basic navigation, pacing and bearing, route selection as well as working as a group, equipment preparation, and undertaking five awesome trips in the beautiful Bavarian Mountains. The temperatures were high and so were the mountains, and this is where the groups learnt all about setting a reasonable pace, keeping hydrated, the importance of a good diet on the hill and the value of a good high factor sun screen to keep Scottish skins from becoming lobster like. Once again another successful course with six more passes.
For those who were not able to get onto the Distributed Training courses, Tomaz Zerovnik took a small team out on a daily basis and undertook some basic Klettersteiging with them. This is also called via Ferrata, and for those that don’t know what this is, it’s a bit of a combination of rock climbing with trekking, with fixed ladders and wire ropes for safety along very precipitous routes. It is a very challenging pursuit and was thoroughly enjoyed by all those who undertook it. In addition, Will Inman and Connor Toner took out small groups of Officer Cadets and did some fantastic Mountain Biking in the local area, as well as at the purpose built mountain bike trails at the Oberjoch. This really pushed those who undertook this event, with runs ranging from pretty basic all the way up to Black runs (although these proved to be far too technical for our teams)
This exercise was a brilliant experience for all who took part. It definitely met all the aims of those who put on the event, namely to push the individuals outside of their comfort zone, developing them as future leaders and giving all who took part a greater appreciation of outdoor pursuits. It would not have been possible without organisations such as the Ulysses Trust, whose generous financial contribution towards the running of this trip, made if very cost effective for the students who deployed and the exercise organiser and the unit as a whole are extremely grateful for the ongoing support provided by the Trust and its board of directors.