The Scottish mountains offer some world class mountaineering routes- the ground between winter walking and winter climbing.
These routes are perfect for winter walkers wanting to take their next steps towards tackling harder ridges or moving onto steeper ground such as gullies
We offer Winter Mountaineering courses throughout the winter season. This can be guiding or instruction (or a mixture of both) on single or multiple day courses depending on your aims and aspirations.
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 using the ‘Be Avalanche Aware‘ Process. This includes weather forecast and avalanche forecast interpretation and how to plan a day out Winter Mountaineering.
- Climbing technique and movement on mixed terrain, snow and ice
- Rock anchor selection and use of a rope to safeguard a section of climbing
- Snow anchors (usually on gully climbs)
- Winter navigation
The Lochaber area has many fantastic mountaineering routes to put these skills into practice which can include:
- Ledge Route, Ben Nevis
- School House Ridge
- Sron na Lairig
- East Ridge of Beinn a’ Chaorainn
- No. 4 Gully, Ben Nevis
- NC Gully
Is this for me?
You should have some experience of winter hill walking and use of ice axe and crampons though we can refresh this during the course. Some summer experience of scrambling is useful but not essential.
Winter days can be demanding so a good level of hill fitness is advised.
Ratios- up to 1:2
|No.of People||Winter Mountaineering per day|
- TECHNICAL KIT
- 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-Axe- Mountaineering Axe with slight curve, around 55cm (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.*
- *– Hire can be arranged for you. Please let us know in advance of your course
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Cancellation/Personal Injury Insurance
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!