Winter Mountaineering

It has been said “there is no such thing as Scottish winter hillwalking….it’s all winter ‘mountaineering’”. There is some truth in this as ascents of even the more benign of Scottish Munros (independent Scottish Mountains over 3000 feet) in full winter conditions are likely to require the skilled use of an ice-axe and crampons. Not to mention a degree of fitness, personal mountain organisation and potentially exacting navigation. An ascent of some of the more difficult Munros in full winter conditions would, understandably, have most ‘hill walkers’ eyes on stalks and is certainly ‘mountaineering’ territory and in at least one case full winter climbing territory.

Highland Guides can cater for the complete spectrum of winter mountaineering aspirations from introducing complete beginners to tackling more advanced and committing routes with sections of easy climbing. Our instructors have spent much of their working lives in Scotland’s winter mountains and they are still highly enthusiastic about it – so they must be doing something right!

All our instructional courses focus on getting the basics right. This is achieved through incorporating skills sessions into a mountain journey where they are practised and applied in context. We try not to spend the day ‘talking about it’ in a static training environment but keep moving, finding new terrain, different snow conditions and, if possible, taking in a route or summit.

Introduction to Winter Mountaineering

This course is aimed at people with little or no winter mountaineering experience. Most accidents in Scotland’s Winter Mountains revolve around simple slips, getting lost or getting avalanched and this course reflects dealing with these 3 major hazards.

It will cover the essential techniques with particular emphasis on efficient movement skills – good cramponing and sound use of an ice axe, the cornerstones of winter mountaineering. Navigation, including GPS use, avalanche assessment and basic ropework will also be covered as required.

A 2-day course will concentrate largely on the movement skills training element and briefly look at snow-pack assessment and navigation. The second day will be a journey practising these and hopefully going over a summit or two.

A 5-day course gives the opportunity to practise and consolidate these skills and visit a greater range of venues and bag more summits! The ropework training can also progress further and take a more detailed look at anchor selection and using the rope for attempting more challenging routes rather than just in an emergency.

Like all our courses we offer tailor made winter mountaineering to suit your specific needs. Whether you want to be guided along the Aonach Eagach, go Snow holing, bag some winter Munros, climb Ben Nevis or are a larger group wanting winter skills training please get in touch to discuss your requirements. Contact us here.

Please also check out our Scottish winter climbing & Mountaineering courses on the High Mountain Guides website.