Blair Aitken – What Backcountry Means to Me!
Blair Aitken is an internationally qualified ski instructor and race coach, Mountain Leader, Mountain Bike Leader and European Mountain Security qualified for ski touring. He has spent more than a decade in the Alpes, running ski instructor courses and assessments for the British Association of Snowsports Instructors, as well as growing the successful New Generation Ski & Snowboard School in Val d’Isére. He continues to instruct and lead off piste skiing in Chamonix, Val d’Isére and Avoriaz, but now spends most of his time in Scotland.
Blair is an experienced ski-mountaineer and former alpine national ski champion who has been backcountry skiing in Scotland since the mid-nineties. He is actively involved in promoting ski-touring amongst British skiers through his British Backcountry Facebook group He is also a competent mountain biker and leads groups in the Lothians, the Tweed valley and the Highlands.
Blair teaches part time for East Lothian Outdoor Learning; delivers climbing, paddling and cycling activities for Venturing Out, a Community Interest Company; and supervises and assesses Duke of Edinburgh for Aspen Outdoors. He spends his free time exploring Scotland by ski, bike, kayak, scrambling and rockclimbing. He is keen to share his passion for Scotland’s wild places with others, and hopes to help people develop the skills needed to better enjoy their time in the mountains. Blair also advises Mountaineering Scotland as part of their Ski Touring Advisory Group, and organises events and workshops such as the Winter Opener.
”What it means to me: Backcountry skiing in Scotland allows you to see the Munros at their finest without the frustrations of winter walking. I love the sensation of gliding across the ever changing snow surface that has been moved and shaped by the wind. Every day is rewarding because you are given instant feedback on your decision making and choice of route. Some work and some don’t, you learn more on each outing.
The views can be enormous – instead of the vertical walls of rock that rise up in front of you in the Alpes, the Highland summits offer vantage points over hills, lochs, glens and (in the West) the Ocean. There is something comforting about looking down into a lush green glen below while you tackle a snow covered peak above. Scotland also caters for multi discipline adventures well. A fine day out in the spring is to approach by mountain bike, scramble up dry rock in approach shoes and change into ski equipment to descend a corn snow filled gully or two before blasting out on the bike. These are big days out and they can hurt a little, but they always satisfy.”