Melrose Explorer Scout Unit have decided to make 2017 their ‘Year of Climbing’!  Their leader Mhorag tells us all about it.

As part of their Year of Climbing, Melrose Explorer Scout Unit took a wee jaunt up to Ice Factor in Kinlochleven. The mini bus was packed and we took to the road on Friday evening with 3 1/2 hours of driving ahead of us. The leaders, Mhorag and Lesley, chatted most of the way while the majority of the Explorers slept obviously having had a tough week at school. The weather was foul but the roads were clear and before we knew it we had reached the Blackwater Hostel situated right beside the Ice Factor. A good night’s sleep was had by most, we won’t mention names when talking about snoring! And after plenty of porridge we were fuelled up to hit the walls.

Explorers outside the hostel

Outside Blackwater Hostel


Our instructor, Serena, kitted us out and we were soon belaying for each other and trying out newly learnt techniques on different routes.

Elena, an Explorer, on the climbing wall

Some nifty moves by Elena on the overhang


Feeling confident and looking forward to the afternoon we had a quick lunch and were soon getting the dangerous looking crampon clad boots on. It was then into the ice chamber, really a huge freezer, with exceedingly high walls of ice. After further instruction from our enthusiastic instructor it was time to challenge our fears and trust in the two tiny spikes on the front of our boots which would be holding all our weight while we tried to wield the axes, in a controlled way of course, into the wall.

An Explorer scales an ice wall

Trust those spikes!


This was a lot harder than we originally thought and used muscles some of us hadn’t used in a long time but wow it was great fun.

Hats off to the guys who managed all the way to the top.

Explorers almost at the top of the ice wall

Nearly there…


Next on the plan, in our Year of Climbing, the Explorers want to try out bouldering at EICA Ratho followed by a double weekend of Rock climbing at Great Towers Scout Centre, if anyone wants to join us please get in touch with the Melrose Explorer Scout Unit.