Winter climbing courses in the UK

Course Description

Courses are based in Snowdonia and the Cairngorms or Ben Nevis area – Scotland, and are designed as an introduction to the skills and techniques of winter climbing; as well as covering the hard skills of crampon and ice axe technique, placing runners, creating belays, rope management, etc.  – the decision making process,  evaluation of conditions, route choice, assessment of risk is also covered.

Courses are suitable for those with some experience of climbing or mountaineering and are adapted to suit individual requirements.

A typical course starts with an introduction, issue of equipment and safety briefing, and goes through the  preparation process for a winter route – route choice, conditions, equipment etc. The hard skills are then covered progressively in practical sessions during the day – evaluating conditions, ice axe and crampon skills, rope work, placing runners and creating belays etc. – making  the most of the weather / conditions and daylight hours.

The final day of these courses would further consolidate the skills learnt and explore the decision making process during the completion of a “named” route. At the end of the course climbers should be confident enough and equipped with the practical skills to independently lead their own climbs at a suitable grade.

This course is usually run at a ratio of 1:2 and is adapted to suit individual abilities and prevailing conditions. All technical equipment, including winter boots can be supplied.

What you need:

  • Waterproof Jacket – full weight breathable model preferred
  • Base Layer
  • Light fleece jackets + heavy fleece jacket or softshell insulated jacket
  • Trousers and waterproof overtrousers or salopettes
  • Hat or Balaclava – must fit under a helmet
  • Warm Ski Type Gloves – Spare pair just in case one gets wet and / or:
  • Spare Mittens – especially if you suffer from cold hands
  • Footwear
  • Socks – a few pairs of warm socks
  • Gaiters
  • Ski Goggles ( can be supplied )
  • Sunglasses
  • Suncream
  • Rucsac 30-35 litres
  • Waterbottle and / or thermos flask
  • Headtorch
  • Personal medications + blister kit
  • Camera
  • Packed lunch for the mountain days.
  • Technical Equipment ( can be supplied at no extra cost )
  • Harness
  • Climbing Helmet
  • C2 / C3 Crampons (preferably with anti-balling plates)
  • Ice Axe / axes
  • Long sling + locking karabiner

What is supplied:

Technical equipment – harness, helmet, ice axes, crampons.

I have a selection of other equipment available – Please let me know if you need anything else e.g rucsac etc. – especially if you are intending to buy any equipment for the course.

Boot hire is also available from : ( Aviemore ) or

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terms and conditions

If you already have any personal equipment, bring it along – this will help with familiarity with your gear and give us the opportunity to discuss the pro’s and con’s of different equipment.

Although I have public liability insurance to the value of £ 5M, you may wish to purchase personal accident, and travel insurance as you think necessary ! Packages which include insurance for climbing and other mountain activities are available from:

Course Information


Courses are based in Snowdonia, North Wales or in Scotland – Aviemore, with easy access to the Cairngorms mountains, or in Fort William, within easy reach of Ben Nevis and Lochaber, Glencoe and Creag Mheagaidh. A flexible approach is required in winter to make the most of the weather and snow conditions and so transport to the different venues from either Aviemore or Fort William is included in the course fee. See below for transport options.

Course Itinerary:

It is preferable to meet informally on the evening before the start of the course if possible, to discuss past experience, aspirations, equipment, plan for next day etc., this maximises our time out in the mountains and allows a relaxed preparation for the days objectives. All time spent in preparation will pay dividends and the planning process will be more formally discussed on the morning of the first day, starting at 08.45 hrs.
Mountain days : will focus on a gradual progression of the necessary skills, and with low ratios, this can be closely tailored to individual requirements.

Typical itineraries start with: Weather and conditions evaluation, route choice, equipment, and a safety briefing.

Moving onto: Navigation, practical assessment of conditions ( and avalanche awareness ) ice axe and crampons skills, practical route choice, security on steep ground, introduction to rope techniques including creating anchors and placing protection.

We should be off the mountains by 16.30 hrs on most days, with further time to review the day’s topics during informal evening sessions, time will be allocated for this on the afternoon of the last day, with courses finishing at 16.00 hrs.

Transport links:

For North Wales ( Betws-y-Coed ):
and coach services via :

For Scotland ( Aviemore and Fort William ):
and coach services via :


As popular tourist destinations, the venues have many options for accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets including good campsites, chalets, bunkhouses, Youth Hostels, B&B’s, self catering cottages and hotels – please note, winter camping can be hard ! – all to be found on :

Course aims:

You will gain the most from the course by being comfortable, relaxed and receptive to the training and experience , an open mind and open, questioning approach to your training will help achieve this.
The ‘Scottish Winter Mountains’ have an international reputation as an area of unique mountain environments , with their own challenges and rewards to the mountaineer, this course will hopefully give you an insight into the skills required and the inspiration to climb independently in these beautiful mountains.

Recommended reading:

There a great many sources of information for the topics covered on the course, I would recommend the following:
Scotlands Winter Mountains – Martin Moran – ISBN 0715307940
Winterskills – Andy Cunnignham / Allen Fyffe – ISBN 0954151135
Chance in a million – Bob Barton / Blyth Wright – ISBN 0907521592
Winter climbing + by Neil Gresham / Ian Parnell – ISBN 9781873341964

Online sources include:

Or drop me a line at: