Page 157 - MBS 2022/23
P. 157

                                 Having hung up my body armour at 20th Armoured Brigade Combat Team, I arrived at the Joint Services
Mountain Training Wing Ballachulish taking over the helm from Capt (MAA) M Fletcher in Oct 22. To say my arrival at the Wing was fast-paced is an understatement, following a return to 20 ABCT to undertake my last role as Bde Sgt Maj, within two weeks I was deploying to Canada and with a swift blink of the eye we are now at the end of a busy winter season.
I am lucky to have inherited a brilliant cohort of driven staff whose whole-team work ethic, can do attitude, enables the first-class delivery of AT across JSMTC. I can’t thank this team enough for assisting me with a smooth touch-down into the role as the OC.
Looking forward to the next 12-months, the Wing continues at the same rapid tempo with a drumbeat of Concentrations, several staff rotating and a complete rebuild of our kitchen and dining facility.
Get them back to the bus –
Sgt (SI) D Smith RAPTC
I’ve now come full circle back to Ballachulish where I started my adventurous training journey; the fact that I now work alongside the people who inspired me to transfer across to the RAPTC is astonishing. The work here is tough, fast-paced and dynamic; the days are big and always start at sea level, the locals call this a ‘sit-start.’ My days involve getting to explore the Munros (mountains in Scotland 914m and above), averaging 18000 steps, 4000 Kcal and bagging at least one Munro a day. As an Adventurous Training Instructor (ATI) being very active in the mountains, it is difficult for the body to recover to go again. I hadn’t qualified as a Winter Mountain Leader (WML) before being assigned, so I had a little bit of pressure to pass the assessment, so I could start being a useful member of the team. I was glad to successfully pass one of the most challenging qualifications I have ever been assessed for, the winds on the final two days were over seventy miles per hour.
Getting on with delivery, I use “The hierarchy of Dave’s needs”. This involves the most important part, getting the students back to the bus safely, having an adventure and then delivering the course syllabus, which comes out naturally as the days progress. I am responsible for six people in an extreme environment, it’s a challenging task due to the hostile, demanding conditions and ever-changing risk we are exposed to. As an ATI I deliver multiple disciplines, it’s essential to have the awareness that the situation is ever-
Capt (MAA) W Brant RAPTC
 Handover of JSMTW Ballachulish between Capt Mat Fletcher abd Capt Will Brant
 changing, if something goes wrong, it can happen quickly. A small trip could end up with a student falling six hundred metres to the bottom of a boulder field or even triggering an avalanche and becoming buried by avalanche debris. In kayaking, if a student capsizes in the wrong place, they could end up in a stopper which is like being stuck in a washing machine (we’ve all been there). It is about taking control of the controllable, in kayaking this means picking the right river, in mountain biking it’s picking the correct line down the trails, in rock climbing it’s selecting the climb that is easy to find. The difference with winter mountaineering is picking the right angle of slope, on the correct aspect, avoiding the consequential run out and avalanche terrain. This must go hand-in- hand with making the correct decision on the ground, coaching ice-axe arrests
Sgt (SI) D C Smith topping out from Aonach Mor
and how to move in crampons. This year this process has been more challenging than usual due to the lack of the snow, a lot of the terrain has big run outs, and the angle isn’t always suitable for students. The morning risk assessment helps with this process, everyone wanting to share ideas, and this helps to promote success.

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