Flight Lieutenant Jack Stepanian Officer Commanding 2195 (Long Eaton) Squadron has successfully completed the Joint Services Winter Mountain Foundation Course held over a week in the Cairgorm mountains.
During the week Flight Lieutenant Stepanian operated in winter mountain conditions consisting of severe snow and ice, whiteout conditions and high winds to complete the training course. The week long course, held at a Royal Air Force mountaineering hut, covered a variety of subjects including ice axe arrests, movement in crampons, navigation in winter conditions, emergency shelter construction and avalanche safety.
Throughout the week candidates operated on their own and in teams working around various locations in the Cairngorm mountain range to develop the required skills. Day 1 consisted of candidates getting used to using crampons on ice slopes as well as practicing ice axe arrests from slides in a number of different orientations. The second day consolidated these skills in a more severe environment with steep snow and ice slopes and construction of individual snow shelters.
The entire course then spent two days on an overnight expedition in the mountains with an ascent to the Cairngorm plateau followed by construction of team snow holes to stay in overnight. Following a night on the mountain the team navigated a challenging ridge in whiteout conditions and then descended back to the mountain hut. The final day consisted of additional consolidation work including rope work to support work on steep ground in winter conditions.
The Winter Mountain Foundation Course is run annually by Headquarters Air Cadets and is open to members of the organisation with existing qualifications including Mountain Leader (summer) and Hill and Moorland Leaders. In addition a number of other courses are run over the same week to develop individuals further in Winter Mountain Walking and Climbing.
Flight Lieutenant Stepanian commented saying “The course was excellent and I feel like I’ve learnt enough to operate on my own safely in this challenging environment. I’m now looking forward to gaining more experience next winter!”