Friday, 11 March 2011

Alpine Scottish conditions!

Yes, you can tell this is not written for this week's weather! The conditions there at the moment sound wild again. Good luck to my friend Joy, and her dog, Einich (Cluanie's sister) who have an more of their Search Dog assessments there this week.

I returned from Scotland last Saturday after a highly successful Search Dog training week with SARDA Wales.

The first two days were spent up in Corrie an Sneachda (Corrie of the Snows). Day One focused on Winter and Avalanche skills in particular. We were trained by Daz of the Kinloss RAF MRT.

Helen gets to grips with the Peeps Avalanche Transceiver. How technology has moved on since these were designed. Give me the Mammut Barryvox  any day!

Training included the use of Avalanche Transceivers (very useful Winter IML revision for me), building snow holes and digging avalanche pits and doing various tests such as the Walkers' Block Test. We finished the day off with a competition to see who could find the buried transceiver the quickest.

Day 2. I was I/C (Instructor in Charge).

We concentrated more on the dogs. I dug snow holes and buried bodies (keeping a very close eye on the thawing snow!) for the dogs and handlers to find, while Antony set up a mountain search area on the scree of the Fiacall Ridge.

the body's view of a find!

I had an interesting search of the area as I opted just to take my ice axe. I had decided the boulders would be a pain with crampons so opted to leave those in my rucksack. Big mistake! The snow areas were hard nevee and a lot larger than they looked from below. My step-cutting skills were put into practice, especially when Cluanie struck the body's scent from the bottom left hand of the area. The body was at the top right hand corner of the area. For twenty minutes my dog barked and barked to get me to Kes, while I desperately cut step after step! An amazing find and a lesson learnt! Always take your crampons in hard snow. Yes, cut stepping is possible;it's just a lot slower than using crampons!

Spot the handler!

Day Three was spent training in the land behind the Highland Wildlife Park. Again, another successful day. Although Cluanie was finally found to be on heat.

On Day Four Antony and I opted to go for a mountain walk over the top of Cairngorm as most of the Bodies decided to go to RAF Kinloss for the afternoon.

The Girls! Body Emmer, Tess, Cazz, Cluanie and Helen 
 Day 5 was another lower day. We trained on the flanks on the Monadhlith towards Kingussie. It was great to see Tess and Cazz grow in confidence ready for their Lowland Full Assessment at the end of March.

What a week. I only found the Drying Room at the Centre we were staying at on the final morning when I decided to have a good explore. How often can you do that in Scotland (or Wales for that matter)?

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