Mountain Skills Courses
For Mountaineers, the winter is perhaps the most magical time of year. Blue skies and the sun glistening on the summits and the crunch of snow underfoot can make for some of the most rewarding and memorable days out.
For summer walkers wanting to take the next step into winter, there are additional skills and equipment to confidently make the most of this magical season!
If you would like to discuss this course for for friends/family/clubs or societies, please see the Adventures for You page or just get in touch to discuss options and prices
Introduction to Winter
2 day courses in the Cairngorms or Snowdonia
Apart from during the great plague of 2020-20??, I had every winter season in the Scottish Highlands as well as working for 6 months in Antarctica as a research scientist since 2001. I will teach you the basic skills that have not only kept me alive throughout but also enabled me to absolutely love and look forward to winter in the mountains.
These courses will provide you with the foundation skills and knowledge to be able to plan your own winter mountain journeys and deal with different snow conditions. Coming on a basic winter skills course is also recommended if you want to go on a guided walk in winter with either me or other providers.
The courses are run primarily in the Cairngorms National Park (Kingussie, Aviemore, and Cairngorm Mountain in Scotland).
The instructor:client ratio is 1:6 with a minimum of 2 clients to ensure that everyone gets the most benefit from the course. Peer-experience and sharing is an important aspect. 16-18 year olds are welcome if accompanied by a parent or guardian also on the course.
I run open two day courses at weekends which you can book below online.
These 2-day non-residential courses cost:
£190 per person with discounts available for booking multiple folks on. Included in the course price is ice axe, crampon and helmet hire. You are welcome to use your own if you have them already. You will need sturdy leather walking boots MINIMUM.
Please see the Private Courses page for bespoke prices if you want a 3 or more day course or have more than 6 people you want to book for. We'll find dates that suit you. Please note that private courses run during the week are cheaper than at weekends!
You will need to ensure that you have all the essential winter equipment beforehand. I will provide a walking axe, helmet (we are not climbing but learning to swing axes around so best be safe!) and walking crampons that will fit sturdy leather boots. If in any doubt please get in touch.
We can cover a range of different skills and techniques and a lot will depend on weather / conditions and the group aims:
Avalanche and weather forecasts
Equipment and clothing
Personal movement skills
Efficient use of your boots in different terrain
Walking in crampons
Use of the ice axe
Ice Axe arrest**
Going on a mountain walk bringing together different skills
Emergency snow shelters
**This is quite an advanced skill which can take a lot of time to demonstrate and practice - it isn't always feasible to cover this skill. It's fun, but you will need to practice this many more times to get good at it and hope you never have to actually use it!
We can look at the use of a rope for emergency situations on these courses if requested. However, this is not a climbing course and it is not expected that most walkers will go out with a rope.
Steep ground in the Cairngorms
Glen Lyon Munros
Steep ground in the Cairngorms
Intro to Winter - Frequently asked questions
Is this suitable for me?
You will need to be an enthusiastic and active hill walker. Winter hill walking can be tougher than in summer so a good level of fitness will allow you to cope with potentially demanding conditions. To get the most from the course, it helps if you are familiar with summer map and compass navigation. I will always try and accommodate everyone but if unsure please drop me an email.
What do I need to bring?
You will need warm clothes! Gaiters, waterproofs, hat, gloves and extra layers. Please see the recommended kit list here. If you have your own winter boots, helmet, ice axe and crampons then do by all means bring them but these can be hired from Tiso in Aviemore by prior arrangement. However these will be provided for the course.
Where do we meet?
If the course is running in the Cairngorms (Aviemore) We meet in the cafe at Tiso, Aviemore. Unit 1, Retail Park Santa Claus Drive, Aviemore PH22 1AF
I'm coming from further afield, where can I stay nearby?
This is up to you depending on your budget. However there are nearby youth hostels in Aviemore, hotels and B&Bs.
What's not included?
How much is the course and how do I book?
The course costs £190 per person for the two day course. Discounts are available for booking groups.
I can't make the dates you are offering but I want to do the course
What are the Terms & Conditions?
I've got some more general questions...
Can you run the courses privately for me, my mates, my group / club?
Absolutely - please get in touch to discuss.