Nick Carter, who will work with students to improve winter mountain safety

Nick Carter, who will work with students to improve winter mountain safety

An expert climber has been appointed to ensure Scotland’s students stay safe on the winter mountains.

Nick Carter will join university mountaineering club meets and work with students, particularly freshers, to improve safety for those heading for hills for the first time.

St John Scotland has funded the post for the accomplished climber in a project run with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland.

The 44-year-old was selected from a short list of candidates after interviews by a panel from the MCofS and St John Scotland. He will start soon contacting university mountaineering clubs and from September will team up with them during their meets in the mountains and deliver, free of charge, expert instruction.

St John Scotland, a leading care charity and the biggest single supporter of voluntary mountain rescue movement north of the border, offered to fund the unique safety instructor post, after hearing that students are considered high risk in what is always a sport with an element of danger.

Mr Carter said: “This is a great idea from St John Scotland and something which is very much needed.

“In many university clubs even the senior members may not have the experience or perhaps the confidence to instruct beginners. I firmly believe that it’s important to catch people young and prepare them for a lifetime of safely enjoying the mountains.”

The Inverness-based mountaineer was born and brought up in East Sussex and has been climbing since he was 12 years old.

He studied for a BA degree in philosophy at Liverpool University and gained a masters in information technology at Glasgow University. It was there that he met his wife Amy, a fellow-member of the mountaineering club. The couple have two daughters.

He has lived in Scotland for 17 years. His first job was at the Outward Bound Trust’s remote Loch Eil Centre. He holds a Mountaineering Instructor Certificate, the highest qualification in the British mountaineering instructor scheme. He has worked in both the National Mountain Centre for England and Wales and at Glenmore Lodge, the Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre.

At home he made the first ascent of the grade VIII Hung, Drawn and Quartered on Skye. Abroad he has climbed in Europe, North and South America, New Zealand and Asia. He is credited with establishing new climbing routes in the Peruvian Andes and the Khumbu region of Nepal.

He said: “Watching what has happened in Nepal following the earthquake has been hard. I’ve worked with Sherpas in that area and know they’ve got wives and kids in the little villages that have been hit. I’ve walked through a lot of villages, so it feels very close to home.”

Nick will spend the winter weekends working with university clubs and the rest of his time running his own company, Alpha Mountaineering, offering guiding and instruction.

Heather Morning the mountain safety advisor with the MCofS, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for university club members to obtain qualified instruction during their winter meets, at no cost to the club or students, with the aim of enhancing their awareness of the skills and knowledge which will help them become more self-reliant”.

John Ferguson-Smith, chairman of St John Scotland’s steering group on mountain safety, said: “I was very impressed by Nick during the interviews and have high hopes of what he will achieve.”

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