Transnational meeting on Improving safety in the mountains all year around

27. 04. – 04. 05. 2019, Ytri Vik, Iceland

We are now back from the 3rd Meeting of our Erasmus+ Up&Down. This Meeting has exceeded all our expectations. The setting, the organisation and group of participants turned out to be wonderful. A big number of the people already knew each other from the previous meetings, that made the whole week even more easy going and without any problems.

The main goal of this meeting was to discuss how could safety be improved for people traveling into the mountains all year around. The topics that came into spotlight were:  increase partaking in ski touring, ski mountaineering and ski alpinism, and if there is a theoretical limit to the number of people involved in these sports (e.g. from the safety or environmental protection point of view); involving young people into Skimo sports; gender equality in Skimo sports; social aspects of Skimo sports (e.g. friendships and community building aspects); financial aspects of Skimo sports; possible funding opportunities for Skimo sports; the importance of networking in Skimo sports; health issues and benefits related to ski touring and trail running; ski touring and trail running as complementary all year round  cardio sports; physical training methods, techniques and systems for ski touring and trail running; trail running as a perfect basis training for ski touring; increase partaking in ski mountaineering and trail running competitions; competition organizing; increasing the number of voluntary activities in Skimo sports;  environmental protection issues related to Skimo sports. Once again the mixture of participants and country background made for some really interesting discussions. We had guides, doctors, club leaders, mountaineering aspirants, competitive races and coaches in the group with a multitude of sports background in outdoor activities. The workshops were mostly in the form of round table discussion around a set topic. Next to that during the days, whenever the weather permitted we had trainings on avalanche safety, route finding and group dynamics. Here we had the chance to training together and learn from our Icelandic host on their own methods, e.g. in beacon testing or terrain scouting. Furthermore as the weather and snow layering, grain size and patters are very different from Alpine terrain, the Meeting proved to a great opportunity for everyone to increase their knowledge and experience in avalanche safety. We also had extensive discussions on the topic of the increasing number of tourist in Iceland, related to how much they lack the experience in moving in mountainous or rough terrain, the accidents relating to this and possible solution. 

Once again we kept the tradition that the evening meal was prepared together by all participants, making networking even more easy. 

At the end of the meeting we, the project leaders sat together to discuss our main conclusions from the meetings, and agreed on the following: it really helps if there are group building activities next to the training and theoretical activities, like cooking together, as these are great opportunities for the participants to socialize freely, outside of the scope of the project. Also we found that for any training activities it’s very important to have a leader, even if the activity is well known by the participants. And even though all participants had a really good background in the above topics, lectures given by outsiders really help in identifying the weaknesses even the most experienced outdoor people have. Also it was heavily noted that round table like discussion a great way to targetedly share experiences, gain new knowledge and discuss on possible new protocols and methods. Furthermore as we all felt that the Meetings were a great success, we have agreed on keeping in touch, and looking for future opportunities in working together. 

We would like once more thank the Erasmus+ for funding this great opportunity, and we sincerely hope that the knew knowledge, experience and networks the participants brought home will be of use to the whole mountaineering and outdoor community!