winter mountaineering

course preview

This is where the confident summer hill walker turns into a true mountaineer. The progression from hill & mountain walking in summer to winter mountaineering  can be challenging. with many more factors to consider, use of winter equipment, navigation, weather,  personal winter mountain skills.

These winter mountaineering programs are ideal for those folks wanting to refresh and brush up on basic winter skills learnt previously or to progress a variety of mountain activities all year round. This is an ideal opportunity for experienced   hill walkers who want to progress confidently into the more challenging UK winter mountain environments above the snowline – with an ideal lead in to an Alpine season and ascents. Learn how to deal independently with short day light hours, variable snow conditions underfoot, strong winds, rain, snow and even some  ice!


Maximum Ratio | 1: 6/4

Number of Days’ |

2 day weekend or 3 – 5 day mid week or Private Guiding. The minimum course duration is 2 days. Given the progressive nature of the course we only accept bookings from the first day. We do not accept folks mid way in a course.

Course Summary | This not a technical winter climbing or snow & ice course as such. However the program will include the use of ropes both for safety and protection on steeper and exposed ground with the ascent of classic Munros and Grade 1- 111 winter routes in the area of Ben Nevis and Glen Coe.

There is an emphasis on |  : an intensive and in depth consolidation of core winter skills as taught on the Winter Mountain Walking Course  : developing rope work, belaying skills on snow and ice, anchor selection    : safe and confident movement on steeper and more exposed winter ground up to 50 degrees –  Grade 1/111  : Protection on easier climbs and the ability to negotiate cornices – plus the use of lowers and abseiling.

Course Overview : |

Our winter mountaineering courses specifically aim to bridge the gap between walking and climbing. We cover movement on grade 1 – 111 ground where the use of a rope will obe required and where  where full pitched climbing would be necessary. This would be in gullies and ridges where some roped pitches are required to ascend mixed pitches, gully headwalls. Competence in these skills offer a good base to lead into actual Scottish winter climbing on graded classic winter gullies, ridges & scrambles with exciting new challenges throughout the Highlands.  See our course itinerary & gear list

Previous Experience & Fitness : | Some previous experience of summer hill walking with basic map & compass work in mountainous country or those who wish to brush up on, refresh skills learnt previously or extend their hill walking seasons safely into autumn & winter conditions with like minded friends. Winter in the Scottish mountains can be particularly demanding particularly in poor weather – good fitness and personal equipment are essential.

Dates & Prices

Course Title

Winter mountaineering – gullies & ridges (intro to graded climbs 1-111)

Number of Days’ Instruction Max
Group Size
(Course only)
Dates Booking
 2 Day weekend 1:3/4 £180 2018 Jan 13-14; Jan 27-28;
2018 Feb 10-11; Feb 24-25;
2018 March 10-11; March 24-25;
2018 April 14-15
 3 Day mid week  1:3/4 £270  2018 Jan 8-10;Jan 22-24;
2018 Feb 5-7; Feb 12-14; Feb 26-28;
March 12-14;26-28;
2018 April 2-4;
 5 Day mid week  1:3/4 £400  2018 Jan 8-12;Jan 22-26;
2018 Feb 5-9; Feb 12-16; Feb 26-March 2;
March 12-16;26-30;
2018 April 2-6
 4 day Bank Holiday. Christmas & New Year 2015, aster 2016  1: 3/4 £ 320  Enquire
 One Day   Private Guiding                                           Winter Mountaineering  1:1–1:3 £180/1:1                  £240/1:2                                                             £320/1:3 At any time dependent on availability Enquire


What is included

Our winter mountain prices include: – All technical gear is supplied but if you do not have them ice axe, crampons will need to be hired at extra cost from us along with suitable stiff winter boots.

We provide harnesses; helmet; all technical climbing gear such as karabiners; belay plates etc; all survival and safety gear; ropes. Please see our Winter Kit List.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Not included in our standard basic prices: |suitable winter boots; ice axe or crampons; map & compass; rucksack; any personal clothing – however most of these items can be provided or hired economically from us on site from our stores. Gondola uplift tickets at Nevis Range are also required for possibly the first one or two days – depending on the weather conditions.

Programme Itinerary

Except for an initial briefing & essential Winter Mountain Safety talk the course will all take place out “on the hill”. Depending on the length of the course we will be working on:-

  • Winter equipment and clothing – choice, selection
  • Winter mountain navigation – pacing and timing; aiming off, trans sections; boxing, doglegs; relocation techniques
  • Route finding techniques in white out / deep snow conditions to minimise energy output.
  • Survival and rescue techniques along with safe choice of routes and planning.
  • Emergency procedures.
  • Digging emergency snow shelters
  • Basic safety and nutritional techniques, which can be applied to a Scottish, winter, a first Alpine walking season or High Mountain Trekking holiday.
  • Recognition of and avoidance of hypothermia
  • Use of ice axe and crampons – ice axe arrests – self arrests without an ice axe.
  • emergency braking; step cutting, kicking steps; fitting crampons; walking in crampons; using crampons for ascent / descent; moving together; glissading. Use of ski poles
  • Safety on steep ground in winter with the use of a hill rope without becoming too involved in technical rope work.
  • Emergency rope work
  • A daily assessment of weather
  • Assessment of snow pack conditions along with avalanche awareness and prediction.
  • Ascent of winter munros & easy ridges.

Times & Meeting

We normally meet at 09.00 hrs at our meeting / lecture room at Snowgoose Mountain Centre. On weekend courses you need to be with us latest by 19.00 hrs on the Friday evening for the briefing / Winter Mountain Safety Talk / fitting of boots & crampons so that we can all maximise a full day on the hill on Saturday. We usually come off the hill by 17.00 hrs. Please plan your travel arrangements around these times.


Depending on the wishes of the group, the prevailing weather conditions & the length of the course the first day at least will normally be spent at Aonach Mor using the gondola up lift to maximise day light hours & snow conditions.

this is where the hill walker turns into a true mountaineer !