/ snow hole tuition

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windjammer - on 23 Jan 2013
im looking for some snow hole guiding in the lake district,i want to learn how to build one and spend the night in one.matt
The Ex-Engineer - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to windjammer: If you want instruction on snowholing you should really be looking for someone who holds their Mountain Instructor Certificate.

There is a great online search facility at http://www.ami.org.uk/find-an-instructor - just select North West England and MIC and you will get a comprehensive list of suitable and qualified instructors working in the Lake District.
rockandroad - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to windjammer:
There isn't an actual snow hole qualification. It doesn't need to be an MIC, Winter mountain leaders have to build and spend 2 nights in a snow hole on assessment, whereas an MIC doesn't (they have gone through the wml process though). Either would be of use.
windjammer - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer: thanks
The Ex-Engineer - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to rockandroad:
> There isn't an actual snow hole qualification. It doesn't need to be an MIC, Winter mountain leaders have to build and spend 2 nights in a snow hole on assessment, whereas an MIC doesn't (they have gone through the wml process though). Either would be of use.

I know you mean to be helpful, but this is an area where there is some confusion and unfortunately what you've just said is wrong.

First, MICs are fully qualified to conduct snow-holing expeditions.

Second, Winter MLs are categorically NOT qualified to conduct snow-holing expeditions.

The issue of snow-holing is explicitly addressed in the Winter ML Handbook 2011 (downloadable from http://www.mountain-training.org/award-schemes/ml-winter ).

From section 2.1:
The aim is not to teach the Winter Mountain Leader how to conduct expeditions using snow holes as the base or main form of accommodation.
and
The inclusion of snowholing in the Winter ML scheme is not to prepare candidates to lead expeditions to potentially remote and serious locations, but for the reasons outlined in the previous paragraph.

And most importantly from section 2.2
It is not within the remit of the Winter Mountain Leader to lead expeditions using snowholes as expedition bases.

I hope that clarifies matters in terms of official qualifications, both for you and the OP.

However unlike in other countries, there is obviously nothing to stop anyone, regardless of qualifications from instructing snow-holing, just as there is nothing stopping anyone from instructing any other aspect of climbing or mountaineering professionally.
Lantys Tarn - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

someone has two much time on their hands....
A Mountain Journey - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer: Fair comment. However, i don't see anywhere in the MIC handbook that suggests this qualification covers the teaching of building snow shelters either.
An MIC will not have necessarily built anymore of these than a WML (and indeed both may have not built any!). I was under the impression that NO qualification specifically covers the building of snow shelters. Ex-engineer may shed further light on this.....

A Mountain Journey - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to windjammer: Scotland would be a better bet for this. Snow cover in the Lakes is mostly pretty thin just now and there's a thaw on the way. Igloo type shelter more likely to be useful in the Lakes.
The Ex-Engineer - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to A Mountain Journey: You are right it is not explicitly stated but quoting from http://www.mountain-training.org/award-schemes/mic (my emphasis):

Mountaineering Instructor Certificate (MIC) - for instructors working in winter conditions. Additional skills required for winter mountaineering and winter climbing are covered. Also included are elements of training and assessment that are necessary for those directing and working on schemes such as Winter ML.

Since a major part of Winter ML courses is a snow hole expedition, that clearly implies to me that MICs are trained and assessed as to whether they are competent to conduct them. That has also been my understanding of the issue based on working with various MICs over the years.

However, I can't comment first hand on what exactly is covered on an MIC training course in relation to snow shelters - at least until next month!
AlH - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to A Mountain Journey: Ex is right in that planned/taught snow holing expeditions are outside of the remit of WML holders. There has always been a tacit assumption that MIC holders having a greater breadth of operating and teaching in winter conditions are more appropriate to run those kinds of courses. However there is no further mention of snow shelters in the MIC syllabus.
Also there are many WML holders who actively offer and conduct snow holing trips on a regular basis who will have a great deal more experience than many MICs (that's no comment on the quality of that experience however- I see some right abortions of snow holes in the Cairngorms in winter and there is no telling who built them)!
Award holders who are working on WML Trainings and Assessments under experienced course directors will have a greater understanding of the issues involved in selecting a snow hole site and keeping it safe.
As ever there is no legal requirement to have any qualification to do this but It would be wise if hiring someone to enquire about how often the award holder holder has been running such trips and what, if any training they have had.
windjammer - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer: i just wanted some pointers that all,no need to go to all that detail. thanks for the reply
EeeByGum - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to windjammer: Is it really that hard? Surely you find a suitable snow drift i.e. one that is pretty deep and then dig a hole in it large enough to lie in. If you have time, you should attempt to dig a trough to allow cold air to sink and always leave an air hole. I used to do this when I was about 14.

Is it really that complicated?
Dave Perry - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to windjammer:
I'm with EeByGum on this. Absolutely not need for a 'guide' or MLC, MIC, UIAA or similar.

Just find a deep drift and start digging.

Failing imagination or the ability to locate snow, then find someone whose spent the odd night in one. Many winter climbers have, so it shouldn't be too difficult.
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AlH - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Dave Perry: You are right there is no need for any for form of instruction. You can just go and dig and good luck (and I did when I started walking many years ago). However there are occasional accidents with collapsing snowholes or holes blowing in leading to asphyxiation around the world. There are also comfortable tips to make it a pleasurable experience. Find someone experienced, read something like http://www.mountain-training.org/books/winter-skills or, if you want to, hire someone to help you find a local site and show you how to do it.

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