courses are generally tailor-made and thus far
more likely to meet your aspirations than booking on a pre-arranged
course. So whether you want to learn how to use an ice axe
and crampons, climb the famous Point Five gully on Ben Nevis or
traverse Glen Coe’s Aonach Eagach you need look no further
than Highland Guides.
ratios we are able to move at exactly your pace and progress
through your own climbing apprenticeship at the rate most appropriate
for you. In this way you will never feel held back by a less
fit and able group member or alternatively never feel pressured
into doing something that has your eyes on stalks! Similarly
the venues chosen can revolve around your past experience, future
aspirations and what 3 star routes you want to tick!
usual winter base in Fort William we are able to reach a wide variety
of venues from Ben Udlaidh in the Southern Highlands to
Glen Coe, Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor in Lochaber. We can also
travel east to Creag Meagaidh and the Northern Cairngorms.
That’s a lot of variety in a week’s climbing!
below are some suggested itineraries. Private
bookings, although a little more expensive, are better value for
money as the course will revolve entirely around you, or your small
group. We can put together a winter climbing package to suit your
needs from a single day to a week long course. Please get
in touch to discuss your requirements and previous experience.
combine a winter mountaineering refresher with some climbing instruction
and a couple of guided routes into a 5 day course?
for a weekend of either instructed or guided climbing. Note
that for new clients all courses may involve an introductory day
where skills are refreshed and an easier or less committing route
is undertaken to assess the client’s ability.
If you have a basic level
of rock climbing and, ideally, some winter mountaineering experience
Highland Guides can help you make the difficult transition to
winter climbing. We can teach you - how to select and use
winter anchors – rock, ice and snow (in that order!); good
winter mountaineering movement skills, climbing techniques on
ice and mixed ground, how to retreat off a winter climb and the
important skills of route selection, avalanche assessment and
navigating your way back off the hill in bad conditions.
means we will try and provide you with positive and educational
experiences whilst ensuring we pass on the wisdom of our own hard
Hire a ‘highland
guide’ and actually get on those classic winter routes you
have dreamed about. Tower Ridge, The Orion Face, Point Five Gully,
Green Gully….The list goes on – it’s not difficult
to be inspired, and that’s just Ben Nevis. We are
able to offer guided winter climbing experiences up to Scottish
grade V, or VI to suitably experienced clients in perfect conditions
(rare!). That covers many of the routes in the brilliant
and highly recommended coffee table winter climber’s book
Climbs”, if further inspiration was needed.
There is also a fantastic
array of easier climbing and high quality mountaineering available.
Routes such as Curved Ridge and Aonach Eagach, Glen Coe; Ledge
Route on Ben Nevis, the West Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn, or a
long gully on Creag Meagaidh are alpine in scale and high in quality.
The E. Face of Aonach Mor, Ben Udlaidh, Stob Coire Nan Lochain
and the Northern Corries of Cairngorm can provide superb and more
accessible winter climbing experiences.
the classic Scottish ice climbs are highly conditions dependent.
Come with your tick list by all means but try and have an open mind
to alternatives. Big ice routes are notoriously fickle both
in terms of the quantity and quality of ice build-up and the invariably
steep snowy approach and exit, which can be exposed to avalanche.
Decisions as to whether they are safe on any given day of the winter
can be tricky….better to hire a Highland Guide!
be disappointed if a safer alternative objective is offered.
Snowed up rock buttresses, or mixed climbing can provide a superbly
rewarding winter climbing experience and are often more likely to
be both in condition and safe. Personally, Scottish winter
mixed climbing is one of my favourite aspects of the wide spectrum
of mountaineering we do – don’t knock it until you’ve
tried it! (But your nice new axes and crampons may need sharpening
back to the top
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.
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!
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.
to Winter Mountaineering back
to the top
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
also check out our Scottish
winter climbing & Mountaineering courses on the High Mountain