Wide angled view of Lochnagar - kindly provided by Glyn Jones, Head Ranger of Balmoral Esate
The first lecture was a very popular lecture by Andy Nisbet who, in his own modest style, took us through his career as a mountaineer from the early days when climbing as a hobby through to the present day , as a successful professional mountaineer. His stunning pictures of some of the ice climbs he has undertaken, together with the lengths undergone to find ice climbs which are in a suitable condition for climbing at very infrequent climatic intervals, left some members of the audience questioning the commitment. His contribution to the development of winter and ice climbing in Scotland was clear and, as the winter developed, his ability with regard to long term weather forecasting also became apparent.
This lecture was followed by one from Dougie Baird, from the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust who gave a lively explanation of their work to a good size audience. He started by describing their work on lower level paths, including those suitable for disabled access.
Dougie illustrated how they had successfully involved community groups in projects for community paths and went on to describe their work on higher mountain paths, building on the initial audit work. The start had been delayed while funding was secured but was now getting going. He finished by repeating the request for volunteers for COAT's Adopt-a-path scheme.
The third lecture was by Roger Owen, a past president of the Trust, on an evening of very inclement weather that was so bad that some members felt moved to ask if it was to be cancelled. He took us through the planning and carrying out of a climbing/skiing trip to a remote area of Eastern Greenland using local guides. Although he has a wide experience of carrying out similar trips it was very interesting to see how it was possible for any of us to carry out such a trip if we wanted to. Some of the views of the trips into the wilderness area were breathtaking and these were complemented by some comment on and illustration of the life the local Inuit population. His finishing slides of the Aurora Borealis and his experiences with the Iceland volcanic eruptions which were happening at the time made many members of the audience very envious.
The full attendance at the first lecture in the New year on ways of improving out door photography surprised the presenter Howard Kennedy. He described how he approaches taking outdoor and animal photography explaining the use of light, angle and the thirds rule of picture composition. His talk was followed by a long question session where he illustrated his very practical approach to photography with many useful hints being given when he answered particular points raised by the audience.
Glyn Jones, Head Ranger of the Balmoral Estate, gave our fifth lecture. He took us through the very varied life of a ranger on a modern estate and describe some of the challenges he faced together with the successful and the not quite so successful outcomes of some of the projects they have undertaken on the Estate during the last few years. He also gave an insight into the costs involved in projects like track removal and re-instatement which mean estates have to think carefully before starting on such projects. The success of the estate in maintaining and increasing the population of several species of birds, some against national trends, was illustrated.
The contribution to the mountaineering fraternity by the Estate and Rangers during mountain rescue operations was also described. The archaeological developments he talked about with regard to the knowledge of the human populations of the Glen were new to most members of the audience.
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