Mountain Skills Courses

Introduction to Winter

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

    • Self-belay

    • Ice Axe arrest**

    • Step cutting

  • Route planning

  • 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.


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. YOU WILL NEED TO ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE ALL OF THE NECESSARY EQUIPMENT

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 This is also where equipment hire can take place and we will ensure everyone has picked up what they need before we head out onto the mountains. If the course is running in Snowdonia, we will meet at the Siabod Cafe, A5, Capel Curig, Betws-y-Coed LL24 0EL. We will be able to pick equipment up from Plas-y-Brenin

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. I'd also recommend the Silverfjord Hotel. It's in Kingussie 11 miles from Aviemore but if you say you're on a course with me you should get a good deal.

What's not included?

Food, Personal Insurance, Personal equipment, Transport, Accommodation

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 have limited equipment to lend out and this is first come first serve. Equipment hire from local stores can be up to £50 extra depending on what you need. These are hired from Aviemore and based on the prices given by Ellis Brigham and Nevisport there. You will need sturdy walking boots, a climbing helmet, an ice axe and crampons so if you don't have your own or can't borrow some, then you will need to hire them. Please ensure you have read the Terms and Conditions.

I can't make the dates you are offering but I want to do the course

That's no problem - Just get in touch with me and I'll see what dates you are free and whether I am too. Please also see the Adventures for You page.

What are the Terms & Conditions?

Please see the Terms and Conditions section by clicking the link. You can also see the Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.

I've got some more general questions...

Please see the General FAQ section by clicking the link here. If you've still got questions then please get in touch!

Can you run the courses privately for me, my mates, my group / club?

Absolutely - please get in touch to discuss.



If you want to chat to me about any of the courses feel free to do so - email is a good start as I'm often out and about with limited phone reception.
If you don't like the idea of the online booking or would prefer to pay a 10% deposit for now, that's fine as I can simply raise an invoice.
Simply choose the date you are interested in, click 'Book Now' and follow the instructions. You'll get an automated confirmation reply but I'll follow that up when I get back to civilisation to say thanks and with more detail about the course..
Please ensure you've read the Terms and Conditions and you are aware of what you need to bring by downloading the gear list.
A quirk of the website hosting system means there are a range of ticket options (apologies about that). Please check the number you are booking for on the ticket options and ensure you request that number of tickets...
Any problems then please get in touch

Upcoming Two Day Intro to Winter Skills Courses in 2022

  • Winter Skills Course - 26-27th February 2022
    Winter Skills Course - 26-27th February 2022
    Tiso Aviemore Outdoor Experience
    26 Feb, 08:00 – 27 Feb, 16:00
    Tiso Aviemore Outdoor Experience, Unit 1, Retail Park Santa Claus Drive, Aviemore PH22 1AF, UK
  • Winter Skills Course - 5-6th March 2022
    Winter Skills Course - 5-6th March 2022
    Tiso Aviemore Outdoor Experience
    05 Mar, 08:00 – 06 Mar, 16:00
    Tiso Aviemore Outdoor Experience, Unit 1, Retail Park Santa Claus Drive, Aviemore PH22 1AF, UK