Alpine & Expedition Training

If you are heading off to the Alps this coming summer season or even the Greater Ranges for a forthcoming expedition, consider enhancing your enjoyment, efficiency and summit chances on that trip with some UK based mountaineering and fitness training before you go.

Alpine Training - Fort William

Alpine Training - Snowdonia

Mont Blanc Training - Snowdonia

Matterhorn Training - Snowdonia

Expedition Training

Highland Guides offer tailor made alpine and expedition preparation programmes according to your own specific trip requirements.  We also offer some team / open group alpine training courses where you can come to the Highlands for some quality alpine relevant training and meet like minded others heading off on similar trips during the alpine season.

Alongside our comprehensive package of skills training we are able to present you with a series of tough mountain challenges. Together these two elements should see you heading off on your trip better prepared both from a mountaineering point of view and being physically and mentally stronger. We can’t re-create the effects of altitude (unless you want to have a particularly big night out beforehand!) but we can provide you with physically demanding mountain experiences similar to, or in some cases in excess of, what you will encounter on your trip.

So whether you are off to try Mont Blanc, The Matterhorn, Becoming an Alpinist courses Mera Peak or Everest the confidence and experience gained from this extra preparation can go along way to help getting you there. We can offer 1-6 day winter and spring courses based in the Scottish Highlands as well as summer courses based in Llanberis, Snowdonia.

Alpine Training Courses - Fort Willliam 

If you are heading out to the Alps for the first time or are aiming to climb a different style of route to that normally attempted in the UK you will certainly benefit from some specific pre-alpine mountaineering training.

Whilst lots of climbers may have technical climbing wall, rock climbing or even longer multi-pitch route experience, alpine skills like taking coils and moving together are sometimes seen as a ‘black art!'  Perhaps that’s why so many UK teams get benighted on everything from Tower Ridge to the Cosmiques Arête!  Many of the skills fundamental to alpinism are infact very simple, but they do need to be learnt, practiced and consolidated, and preferably in a less intimidating environment than your first alpine ascent!

Many alpine accidents also occur on crevassed glaciers and a lot of these are entirely avoidable with some quality glacier travel and crevasse rescue training.

Our Scottish Highlands Alpine Training course is based in Fort William and uses the fantastic crags of Glen Nevis for a quality alpine training day consolidated by a 2nd day out in the high mountains.  

Here is a summary of the 'Plan A' schedule for the weekend which may have to be adjusted according to weather & mountain conditions at the time.

Day 1 - Training Day

  • Welcome to the course & intro chat about the weekend.  Equipment check & discussion about suitable equipment to take for glacier travel and low - mid grade alpine routes.
  • Transfer to Glen Nevis, basic scrambling & movement skills covered whilst approaching the fantastic valley crags.
  • Technical discussion & practice of alpine rope work skills including taking coils & moving together on glaciers & mixed / rocky ridges.
  • Using, placing & checking natural protection (spikes etc) as well as rock climbing protection (slings, nuts, cams) to safeguard the party.
  • Big boot rock climbing skills and simple rock climbing ropework relevant to key passages on alpine routes
  • Rope work skills for abseiling, relevant to retreating from alpine routes or descending steep passages on many of the classic alpine peaks.
  • The day can be summarised in the cafe on the way back with a discussion of alpine hazards & their avoidance as well as some ideas for route planning and using alpine maps & guide books.

Day 2 - Mountain Day

  • An early start for an alpine style approach to the high mountains of Lochaber eg on the North Face of Ben Nevis or Glencoe with the aim of approaching an alpine style route whilst the late spring snow on the approach is still frozen.  These offer ideal terrain to practice the skills learnt the previous day in a relevant context and in ascent & descent.
  • In the event of good remaining snow cover and a decent freeze this will provide the opportunity to use crampons & ice axe to approach the route efficiently and discuss the issues of this crucial element of mountaineering.
  • The team would aim to blend short discussions of the skills involved within the framework of maintaining a good overall alpine momentum to the day so the summit can be reached and descent made in good time for a final summary and course finish C. 1630 back in Fort William.
  • This final day will give a good opportunity to put some mountain miles in the legs, add to your general endurance training and give you the chance to get some expert feedback on how your fitness is shaping up with regard to forthcoming alpine trips.

Training in these basic but fundamental alpine skills is very likely to improve your efficiency and enjoyment as an alpinist. It could well prevent a few alpine style epics too….. although that is another way of learning!.  (As the saying goes – “Experience is the sum of the cock-ups you survive!”)

Fort William Alpine Training Weekend Details - Spring 2017

  • 2 Full days, Saturday & Sunday 15-16 April 2017
  • Current Bookings:  People Attending: 0   People Enquiring: 1
  • Course Fee:  £325
  • This is a guiding / training fee only and does not includes any other expenses like travel, accomodation, insurance or equipment hire
  • Course Base Camp:   Calluna Mountain Guesthouse in Fort William (Or other accomodation of your choice in Fort William)
  • Team Size / Guiding Ratio:  Maximum 3 guests to 1 Mountain Instructor / Guide
  • Course Kit List  Please also take any prussiks, rope man, Karabiner pulley style Karabiners - if you already have them (this will be a good opportunity to discuss what equipment will be worth buying)

Course Fitness & Mountain Experience Pre-Requirements

  • An existing level of good mountain fitness is required, especially for the 2nd day which could involve 8+ hours on the go.  This will mean you have existing mountain walking & some scrambling experience and good current aerobic fitness / endurance.
  • Some previous climbing experience is desireable but not essential. 
  • The rock climbing standard will be maximum grade of 'Diff' but this will be in big mountain boots or possibly in the wet, so it would be good to prepare by eg visiting a local climbing wall.
  • An existing level of good mountain fitness is required, especially for the 2nd day which could involve 8+ hours on the go.  This will mean you have existing mountain walking & some scrambling experience and good current aerobic fitness / endurance.

Alpine Courses This Training Would Be Good Preparartion For

Booking

  • Please contact us to check availability with a description of your fitness & experience details and aims for future mountain trips
  • Fill out an online booking form
  • Make a payment via the invoice you will be mailed.  Payment by UK bank transfer or Credit / Debit Card or Paypal (3% charge)

Alpine Training - Snowdonia

Snowdonia was the training venue chosen by Sir John Hunt’s Everest team prior to their successful first ascent in 1953. They realised that here was a place whereavariety of steep rocky mountains and brilliant crags could be easily accessed.  Unsurprisingly this is still the case!  In terms of the volume of mountaineering possible over just a few days, it’s hard to replicate and Snowdonia remains a truly inspiring place an inspiring to climb, and to train.

Here, there are superb possibilities for long, varied days of alpine style moving together along ridges, scrambling up & down classic high mountain routes and tackling some of the easier yet brilliant rock climbs in mountain boots.  The celebrated valley crags also provide a fantastic training venue for practicing rope work and technical alpine skills.

Our Snowdonia based alpine training weekend blends the training and technical with a more flowing and physical mountain day, enabling you to develop both important elements in anticipation of tackling longer alpine routes...

Day 1 - Climbing & Training Day

  • Welcome to the course & intro chat about the weekend.  Equipment check & discussion about suitable equipment to take on low - mid grade alpine routes and for glacier travel.
  • Transfer to most suitable crag for the conditions to cover scrambling & movement skills whilst approaching one of the fantastic valley crags.
  • Technical discussion & practice of alpine rope work skills including taking coils & moving together on glaciers & mixed / rocky ridges.
  • Using, placing & checking natural protection (spikes etc) as well as rock climbing protection (slings, nuts, cams) to safeguard the party.
  • Big boot rock climbing skills and simple rock climbing ropework relevant to key passages on alpine routes.Alpine Moving Together Training on the Cneifion Arete, Ogwen, Snowdonia
  • Rope work skills for abseiling, relevant to retreating from alpine routes or descending steep passages on many of the classic alpine peaks.
  • The day can be summarised in the cafe on the way back with a discussion of alpine hazards & their avoidance as well as some ideas for route planning and using alpine maps & guide books.

Day 2 - Mountain Day

  • An early start for an alpine style approach to the high mountains of Snowdonia.  Possible route choice could be Cneifion Arete above the Ogwen Valley, with a descent of Bristly Ridge in the afternoon to give a real alpine feel to the day.
  • The team would aim to blend short discussions of the skills involved within the framework of maintaining a good overall alpine momentum to the day so the summit can be reached and descent made in good time for a final summary and course finish C. 1630 back in Llanberis for tea, cakes and de-brief!
  • This final day will give a good opportunity to put some mountain miles in the legs, add to your general endurance training and give you the chance to get some expert feedback on how your fitness is shaping up with regard to forthcoming alpine trips.

Snowdonia Alpine Training Weekend Details 2017

  • 2 Full days, Saturday & Sunday 13-14 May 2017
  • PLACES REMAINING:  3 
  • People Attending:  0 
  • People Enquiring:  2
  • Course Fee:  £325
  • This is a guiding / training fee only and does not includes any other expenses like travel, accomodation, insurance or equipment hire
  • Course Base Camp:  Alpine Lodge Hotel in Llanberis (C. £35 including breakfast) or other accomodation in Llanberis of your choice.
  • Team Size / Guiding Ratio:  Maximum 3 guests to 1 Mountain Instructor / Guide
  • Course Kit List 

Course Fitness & Mountain Experience Pre-Requirements

  • An existing level of good mountain fitness is required, especially for the 2nd day which could involve up to 8 hours on the go.  This will mean you have existing mountain walking & some scrambling experience and good current aerobic fitness / endurance.
  • Some previous climbing experience is desireable but not essential. 
  • The rock climbing standard will be maximum grade of 'Diff' but this will be in big mountain boots or possibly in the wet, so it would be good to prepare by eg visiting a local climbing wall.

Alpine Courses This Training Would Be Good Preparartion For

For more technical alpine ascents like Climbing The Matterhorn, Eiger and our Becoming An Alpinist Course, we would recommend our Snowdonia Matterhorn Training Weekend or private guiding in the UK and / or Alps.

Booking

  • Please contact us to check availability with a description of your fitness & experience details and aims for future mountain trips
  • Fill out an online booking form
  • Make a payment via the invoice you will be mailed.  Payment by UK bank transfer or Credit / Debit Card or Paypal (3% charge)

Mont Blanc Training - Snowdonia

Climb Mont Blanc - A Brilliant Mountain Challenge - Worth Training For...

Mont Blanc is a magnet for climbers and strong walkers around the world, and rightly so, it's a superb high glaciated mountain, dominating the Northern Alps and providing a brilliant mountain challenge for those willing to undertake the right preparation, both physical and technical...

Whislt the challenges on Mont Blanc are mainly physical (you will not be hanging off your finger nails!) you also need to prepare technically for the mixed / rocky scrambling  between the Tete Rousse and Gouter Huts on the classic northern ascent route from the French side of the mountain.   Many aspiring climbers have been shocked at how steep this appears on the approach trek.  As this photo of the approach to the Gouter Hut shows, those expecting a 'non-technial' trek, might be rather alarmed!

The terrain is actually quite moderate scrambling terrain, albeit it at high altitude and sometimes done in the dark.  With the right preparation, and in the right conditions (and on the right route!) it can be one of the most enjoyable sections of the whole ascent route.  Our Scottish Winter and intro alpine mountaineering courses prepare you for the mountaineering sections involving crampons and glacier travel whilst this spring weekned in Snowdonia helps prepare you for both the long endurance element of the climb and more technical rocky scrambling sections in ascent and descent.  You will also just generally improbe your mountain skills and fitness along the way.

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and to enjoy a safe and stylish ascent you will need to focus on your own personal fitness and body weight management programme as well as doing some more specific training in the mountains.  This specific mountain preparation will not only help to prepare physically but, with greater competence and confidence moving over the more technical terrain, you will also be more efficient and save energy for the really demanding final high altitude section of the summit climb.

Our Snowdonia based Mont Blanc Training weekend addresses these related and enjoyable elements in helping you to prepare for this big challenge.  It should also provide a great opportunity to meet some other llike minded Mont Blanc climbers for a sociable weekend in the mountainso.   There will also be an early evening talk descibing the ascent and opportunity to discuss the equipment requirements and ask any questions about the ascent and preparation with plenty of time remaining so that you can actually do some effective training to build progressively for your summit attempt during the forthcoming alpine summer season...

Day 1 - Mountain Walking & Scrambling

Scrambling On The Northern Side Of Mont Blanc

  • Welcome to the course, introductions, weather forecast and planned programme.  Equipment checks.
  • Mountain day of c. 6-7 hours starting with an approach walk to a steady scramble perhaps including Tryfan North Ridge or Brystly Ridge whilst discussing moving skills and being efficient for general mountain travel.  Using your mountain boots accurately.
  • Use of technical mountaineering gear including harness, helmet and roping up for moving together in 'alpine style'.
  • Scrambling journey (up to around Grade II) concentrating on improving your movement skills for scrambling in ascent & descent as well as your confidence moving efficiently on moderately technical terrain where short roping & short pitching techniques are being employed by therope.
  • The skills covered can be reflected on, with a discussion regarding the progress made during the day and plans for putting it all in to practice, with a greater volume of scrambling, the following day.
  • Early evening talk describing the ascent of Mont Blanc, what is involved, fitness levels, equipment requirements and a chance to ask any questions about any aspect of the ascent and preparation.

Day 2 - Mountain Scrambling Day

Scrambling In Snowdonia

  • An early start for an alpine style approach to the high mountains of Snowdonia and a longer C.7-8 hour day linking several scrambles and summits and covering plenty of mountain walking & scrambling terrain.
  • Possible route choice could be scambling on and around the Snowdon Horseshoe, Cneifion Arete above the Ogwen Valley, with descents of other routes to practice scrambling in descent facing in, out, and across!
  • There are lots of other good options which present the combination of sustained scrambling passages with easier waling sections, just like on the climb to the Gouter Hut on Mont Blanc.
  • This final day will also give a good opportunity to put some mountain miles in the legs, add to your general endurance training and give you the chance to get some expert feedback on how your fitness is shaping up with regard to a future Mt Blanc ascent.  The vertical height interval from the Tete Rousse hut to summit of Mont Blanc is around 1700m, at high altitude, so you can compare the ascent done today and reflect on your fitness & movement skills levels accordingly and plan further training as necessary.
  • This can all be discussed & concluded over a final tea & cakes café stop before the course finishes late afternoon on the Sunday.

Mont Blanc Training Weekend Details 2017

2 Full days, Saturday & Sunday 22-23 April 2017

High On The Glyder Plateau

  • People Attending:  3
  • People Enquiring:  3
  • Places Still Available:  5
  • Guiding Ratio:  Maximum 4 guests to 1 Mountain Instructor / Guide for day 1 and 2 guests to 1 Mountain Instructor / Guide for day 2
  • Course Fee:  £325
  • This is a guiding / training fee only and does not includes any other expenses like travel, accomodation, insurance or equipment hire
  • Course Base Camp:  Alpine Lodge Hotel in Llanberis (C. £35 including breakfast) or any other accomodation in Llanberis of your choice.
  • To add to the social factor of the weekend we will keep taking bookings and adding instructors and guides as required.  Each booking will be gauranteed regardless of whether or not we find other climbers to join them and fill the ratios described above.
  • Course Kit List

Course Fitness & Mountain Experience Pre-Requirements

  • An existing level of good mountain fitness is required for 2 days in the mountains up to 6-8 hours each day.  This will mean you have some existing mountain walking experience or a very good level of current fitness from other aerobic / endurance sports like running / cycling etc.
  • No previous scrambling or rock climbing experience is required but you should however be keen to embrace this enjoyable element of mountaineering and be ready for some exposed scrambling in the mountains.

Alpine Courses This Training Would Be Good Preparartion For

High On The Ascent Of Mont Blanc - This Is Where Your Training Pays Off...

Booking

  • Please contact us to check availability with a description of your fitness & experience details and aims for future mountain trips
  • Fill out an online booking form
  • Make a payment via the invoice you will be mailed.  Payment by UK bank transfer or Credit / Debit Card or Paypal (3% charge)

Matterhorn Training - Snowdonia

Many climbers, alpinists, ambitious mountain walkers and even arm chair mountaineers dream of climbing the Matterhorn.  Well, why not, it's one of the world's great iconic mountains.  There is a true gasp factor added to almost any view of it, but especially the view from the high street in Zermatt and especially when viewed by somone who has come to climb it!  It's an intimidating route up an intimidating yet truly inspiring mountain.  Common sense tells you that the ascent will not be easy and, as is often the case in the mountains, common sense is right.  The ascent is long, with very sustained moderate scrambling and some short steep & tricky sections.  The trick is to arrive in the Alps well prepared for this demading ascent and this is where our training courses will make a big difference.

Unlike on some easier alpine peaks where just good fitness is required and we can do the relevant technical training during the course, preparation for the Matterhorn ascent requires a conscientious and determined approach.  You will need to arrive for the climb not only fighting fit and raring to go but scrambling fluently in ascent and descent and happy to tackle short, steep & physical sections of rock climbing & climbing fixed ropes.  You will also need to be mentally prepared for sustained exposure, following instructions for the route finding in descent and looking after yourself during the demanding mountain marathon of a 7 - 11 hour day.

Our Snowdonia based Matterhorn Training weekend addresses all these complicated elements in helping you to prepare for this big challenge.  It also gives you the chance to get some great technical mountain miles under the belt whilst enjoying a fun & social weekend in the mountains and perhaps even meeting other llike minded Matterhorn climbers on the same course.

Day 1 - Climbing, Scrambling & Training Day

  • Welcome to the course & intro chat about the weekend.  Equipment checks & discussion regarding relevant kit choices for the Matterhorn & other similar alpine routes.
  • Transfer to a suitable crag which provides interesting terrain for training both scrambling and more technical pitched climbing in big boots (up to V.Diff / Severe)
  • This will be a day concentrating on improving your movement skills for scrambling in ascent & descent as well as your confidence moving efficiently on moderately technical terrain where short roping & short pitching techniques are being employed by the rope.
  • There will also be the opportunity to tackle some steep rock pitches similar to those encountered for example on the Matterhorn's Hornli Ridge at about V. Diff in standard.  Other important features of the ascent of the Matterhorn are ascending strenuous sections of fixed rope and being lowered confidently down steep walls.  Both of these will also be addressed although some improvistation is required for the fixed ropes as these are not a feature of the mountains in Snowdonia!
  • The skills covered can be summarised in the cafe on the way back with a discussion regarding the progress made during the day and plans for putting it all in to practice, higher in the mountains, and with a greater volume of scrambling, the following day.

Day 2 - The Mountain Day

  • An early start for an alpine style approach to the high mountains of Snowdonia.  Possible route choice could be Clogwyn y Person Arete including the arsons Nose (Diff) start to Crib YDdysgal with a descent of the same route to concentrate on down climbing and scrambling in descent facing in, out, and across!
  • There are lots of other good options which present this combination of a long sustained scramble with both easier sections and short, harder, more technical sections which can be pitched thereby simulating the terrain and style of climbing expereinced on the Matterhorn.
  • This final day will also give a good opportunity to put some mountain miles in the legs, add to your general endurance training and give you the chance to get some expert feedback on how your fitness is shaping up with regard to a future Matterhorn ascent.  The vertical height interval of the Hornli Ridge to the Matterhorn summit is around 1200m, so you can compare the ascent done today and reflect on your fitness & movement skills levels accordingly and plan further training as necessary.

Matterhorn Training Weekend Details 2017

2016 Dates now full so please enquire about private guiding or for our range of alpine & Matterhorn training courses in the UK in 2017

  • 2 Full days, Saturday & Sunday 27-28 May 2017
  • People Attending:  7
  • People Enquiring:  2
  • Places Still Available:  5
  • Course Fee:  £365
  • 2 Full days, Saturday & Sunday 8-9 July 2017
  • People Attending:  1
  • People Enquiring:  1
  • Places Available:  3
  • Course Fee:  £365
  • This is a guiding / training fee only and does not includes any other expenses like travel, accomodation, insurance or equipment hire
  • Course Base Camp:  Alpine Lodge Hotel in Llanberis (C. £35 including breakfast) or other accomodation in Llanberis of your choice.
  • Team Size / Guiding Ratio:  Maximum 2 guests to 1 Mountain Instructor / Guide. 
  • To add to the social factor of the weekend we will keep taking bookings and adding instructors and guides as required.  Currently this is just 1 but each booking will be gauranteed regardless of whether or not we find another climber to join them.
  • Course Kit List

Course Fitness & Mountain Experience Pre-Requirements

  • An existing level of good mountain fitness is required, especially for the 2nd day which could involve up to 8 hours on the go.  This will mean you have existing mountain walking & some scrambling experience and good current aerobic fitness / endurance.
  • Some previous rock climbing experience is also required but does not need to be extensive or on difficult routes.  You should however already be able to safely put your harness on, tie in and belay.
  • The rock climbing standard will be V.Diff / Severe, but this will be in big mountain boots or in the wet, so you should be able to do this.

Alpine Courses This Training Would Be Good Preparartion For

Booking

  • Please contact us to check availability with a description of your fitness & experience details and aims for future mountain trips
  • Fill out an online booking form
  • Make a payment via the invoice you will be mailed.  Payment by UK bank transfer or Credit / Debit Card or Paypal (3% charge)

Expedition Training

Perhaps you are off to climb Mount Elbrus or Mera Peak and want to improve your ropework for glacier travel and crevasse rescue. Acconcagua and Everest clients

may wish to improve their overall fitness and ‘enjoy’ some tough days mountaineering in the UK hills before going. If you are off to Ama Dablam or Khan Tengrhi consider improving your technical ability and confidence on steep ground. We have also worked with experienced mountaineers bound for K2 who just wanted to improve their harder technical climbing skills.

Here are some suggestions as to subjects that will be worth covering in preparing a course syllabus suitable for your particular expedition:

Crampon and ice axe use – from introductory walking to advanced use on more technical ground

Ropework – from introductory through to moving together, glacier travel and crevasse rescue

Climbing skills – summer or winter

Use of a Jumar for ascending fixed ropes. Different techniques for easy angled and steep ground. Descending fixed ropes

Snowholing, winter camping and self-sufficient backpacking

GPS use (personally I would not be without a GPS on most of the big, snowy peaks I work on)

Fitness and stamina training. Help prepare for your trip with some long days on the hill – see our mountain challenge page

Hazard awareness and avoidance

Frequently some of these important skills are overlooked in the fascination about altitude related illness and acclimatisation schedules. These are undoubtedly important too and will be discussed during any expedition training. However it doesn’t matter how well you acclimatise if you are tiringly inefficient in crampons, using a jumar, looking after yourself in camp or just aren’t very fit. These things however can all be tackled in the UK prior to departure.

Scotland is a far better place to improve your winter mountaineering skills than on an expedition in the Himalaya. One look at the UK’s star alpinists over the last 5 decades will confirm the significance of a Scottish element in their mountaineering apprenticeships. Bonnington, Haston, Brown, Patey, Boardman, Rouse, Mcyntire, 

Fowler, Cave have all excelled in the big mountains after cutting their teeth in Scotland’s small, but tough, hills. Most big mountains throughout the world have a lot of steep snow slopes on them – often about Scottish grade 1. The best place to get plenty of mileage and thus efficiency and confidence on this type of ground is in winter in the Scottish Highlands.

Please get in touch to discuss your current experience, alpine or expedition itinerary and training requirements. Contact us here.