Winter Climbing Courses

Scottish Winter Climbing is world renowned for it’s challenges and rewards. We offer tailor made Winter Climbing Courses throughout the season. Our aim is to match your aspirations with the weather, snow and avalanche conditions and the climbing conditions to give you the best possible time out in the mountains.

Scottish Winter Climbing is well known for it’s quality! Adverse weather, avalanche hazard and changeable climbing conditions means making good decisions is a key part in the process to learning how to become a Winter Climber. Getting some professional instruction can help you progress more quickly and more safely towards becoming a fully independent Winter Climber.

Our Winter climbing courses aim to work out where you are on your climbing journey and move you forward whilst climbing some of the excellent routes we have in the Ben Nevis and Glencoe areas. We offer tailor made courses with the length and the content based around you rather than an ‘off the shelf’ course.

Depending on the length of your course and your aims, we’ll tailor things to suit you but there are certain core areas we’ll aim to cover on most courses which include:

  • Avalanche Awareness and planning using the ‘Be Avalanche Aware‘ Process. This includes weather forecast and avalanche forecast interpretation and how to plan a day out Winter Climbing.
  • Climbing technique and movement on mixed terrain, snow and ice
  • Gear placement, belay building and stance management on winter climbs
  • Winter navigation
  • Climbing on Routes Grade I-III/IV

Going climbing with a fixed plan has been the undoing of many teams and producing a plan based on the weather and avalanche conditions, the aims and skills of the team and the terrain where we’re going allows us to choose the best climb given the prevailing conditions. During your days with us, we’ll work through this process together, giving you a clear idea of what to do when you head off on you own!

Possible routes we may climb are:

  • Western Rib (Aonach Mor)
  • No. 3 Gully Buttress, Ben Nevis
  • East Ridge, North Top Stob Ban
  • Dorsal Arete
  • Twisting Gully
  • and many more…

Is this for me?

You should have some good experience of winter hill walking and be happy using ice axe and crampons on steep snow slopes. Some previous experience of summer rock climbing or some winter mountaineering on grade I+ routes would be beneficial

Winter days can be demanding so a good level of hill fitness is advised and you should be happy carrying your personal climbing kit and a rope during the walk in and walk out.

Ratios- up to 1:2

No. of PeopleWinter Climbing (per day)
Kit List
    • Winter boots – Need to be at least B2 rated (up to grade III) and B3 rated for Grade III+_and be able to take a C2 crampon (or C3 for Grade III+). E.g. Scarpa Manta Pro (B2), Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro (B3). Hire can be arranged via Scottish Mountain Hire, Ellis Brigham.
    • Crampons- C2 crampons e.g. Grivel G12’s for Grade II-III and C3 crampons e.g Grivel G14’s, Petzl Lynx for Grade III+.*
    • Ice-Axes- 2 technical ice tools- e.g. Petzl Quark. One hammer and one Adze attachment recommended (please get in touch for any advice). *
    • Harness- This will have to go over several layers so please make sure if using a summer harness, it’ll fit over your winter layers.*
    • Belay Device and HMS Carabiner.*
    • 1x 120cm sling and 1 screwgate carabiner.*
    • Helmet.*
    • *– Hire can be arranged for you. Please let us know in advance of your course
  • Clothing
    • Thick walking socks- Make sure these feel comfortable with your winter boots.
    • Wicking baselayer/thermal – keeps moisture away from your skin and reduces how cold you feel as a result. Cotton is not suitable.
    • Warm trekking trousers or Thermal trousers- to be worn underneath waterproofs.
    • Insulated mid layers- to be worn underneath waterproofs but on top of thermal/ baselayer. Thick fleece or synthetic layers for example a Primaloft top.
    • Waterproof jacket – e.g. GoreTex, E-Vent, Paramo, Hyvent, etc- Good hood essential
    • Waterproof Over-trousers- e.g. GoreTex, E-Vent, Paramo, Hyvent, etc. Warm hat plus + 1 spare
    • Waterproof gloves (x 2 pairs) + 1 spare pairs of gloves of warm gloves
    • Spare warm layer/Belay Jacket- A warm synthetic jacket to go on top of everything else whilst standing on winter belays e.g. Mountain Equipment Fitzroy
    • Food and water – around 1-2 litres of water and plenty of snacks and high energy foods to get you through the day.
    • Rucksack – 40-45 litre recommended. Loops for carrying ice tools are very handy
    • Rucksack liner/Drybags- rucksacks aren’t waterproof so either a large poly-bag liner or several smaller dry-bag type bags recommended.
    • Survival Blanket- Blizzard products are very good.
    • Ski/ Snow goggles- very useful when walking into the wind and spindrift.
    • Personal medicines
    • Whistle
    • Head Torch+ Spare Batteries or smaller spare torch
  • Optional Kit
    • Trekking poles (Optional) – can take 3 tonnes of loading off of your knees over the courseof a day and also good in deep snow. Snow baskets are very useful on these. Recommended.
    • Sun screen, sun glasses – mountain sun can be fierce and it is occasionally sunny in winter!
    • Gaiters- stops snow from getting into your boots.
What’s included/not included

What’s included

  • Qualified and Experienced Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (WMCI)
  • Hire of ice axe, crampons, helmet, harness
  • Action photos of your course

What’s not included

  • Boot hire
  • Personal Kit
  • Gondola Ticket if using Aonach Mor as a venue
  • Transport/Accommodation/Meals
  • Cancellation/Personal Injury Insurance
Meeting Location/Time

Meeting Times are usually 0700-0730hrs (will be confirmed beforehand). If travelling to the area by public transport let us know and we may be able to arrange a pick up.

The location will be determined by our route choice. This will be selected by looking at the weather/avalanche hazard, group ability and aspirations and will be discussed beforehand.


What if the weather is bad?

Managing the weather and avalanche hazard in Winter is all part of the challenge! We’ll do our best to pick the best route for that day given the prevailing conditions. Learning to deal with challenging conditions is part of the fun and all part of the Scottish Winter Mountain experience!

Enquire Now about Winter Climbing Courses

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