Winter Mountain Skills

6 Days

Price from: £299.00

Ref No: Activus 022

Ice Climbing
Skills Courses
Winter Activity

Brush up your mountaineering skills with these winter based courses...

Our Winter Mountaineering Courses will provide you with the necessary skills to operate safely in winter conditions and and are specifically designed as introductory and skills refresher courses.

  • Winter Mountain Skills image
  • Highlights
  • Beginner/Introductory courses
  • Small groups up to 1:6 ratio
  • Customised activities
  • Winter Qualified Guides
Winter is a fantastic time in the mountains, bringing out some of the most rewarding days in the British hills, but the conditions can be very challenging. Our aim is to teach you the skills to operate independently in winter conditions.
With these two courses we provide a safe introduction to both the techniques and equipment that you will require for winter mountaineering. 

Both courses are based near Glencoe in the Western Highlands and offer a wide choice of nearby mountaineering locations depending on prevailing weather and snow and ice conditions. However, we can also offer the same courses in the Lake District and/or Snowdonia subject to suitable weather conditions (i.e. enough snow and ice) year to year.

Many of our guides regularly lead expeditions further afield and are ideally placed to advise you about your mountaineering aspirations. Your guide will be highly experienced and passionate about the outdoors.


a) Beginners Long Weekend Course

Grade: Stage 1 / Beginner
4 days / Friday to Monday
Instruction: 3 days

This course is designed for those with no experience of winter mountaineering, who want to learn the fundamental skills needed to walk or climb safely in winter. This course will introduce you to winter mountaineering and help with confidence as well as teaching the skills needed for safe travel in winter conditions. Included within this course are basic movement skills coaching- both with and without crampons, use of the ice axe, ice axe arrest and avalanche awareness training (see Activity Information below for full programme details). When the course is complete clients should be confident with the basic skills needed for safe winter travel.

The three day course will concentrate on safety and movement skills whilst moving through the Scottish mountains. This course will be run to the needs of the clients although we will spend long days learning the skills needed to keep us safe. Some of the areas we may visit are Glencoe and Aonach Mor and we will look to take in at least a grade 1 gully.

As a result of inherent time constraints this course is not designed to achieve the same levels of confidence and skills as our longer Stage 2 / Introductory Winter Mountaineering Course. However, our aim is to ensure that students leave the course having mastered the rudimentary skills of crampon technique, safe movement over steep ground, avalanche awareness and ice axe arrest.

Our Stage 1 / Beginners Long Weekend Course will involve three full days of intensive training and tuition and begins with a course briefing at 9.00pm on Friday evening where we will run through the itinerary, equipment required for your first day, issue any pre-arranged hire kit and cover all essential information for the weekend ahead including safety and medical details as well as start times and venues.

Day 1 will be concentrated on basic skills techniques
Day 2 will focus on safety and how to move efficiently on steep ground
Day 3 will aim to complete a longer mountain route where you will be able to practice the skills and knowledge gained over the first part of the course.

b) Introductory Winter Mountaineering Course

Grade: Stage 2 / Introductory
6 days / Tuesday to Sunday
 5 days

This course is designed for those with no previous experience of winter mountaineering or for those who want a refresher in the skills needed to walk or climb safely in Scottish winter conditions. The course is also excellent technical preparation for participation in our summit expeditions such as Aconcagua, Mera Peak and Mont Blanc. The course has been designed to give the client confidence by using a variety of different mountain venues whilst allowing time to practice the essential skills to keep them safe.

Throughout the course we will look at a variety of methods including ropework to help with safety and safe travel whilst on the mountains. We will also look at emergency situations and what to do as well as making and possibly using emergency shelters. Clients should walk away from this course with confidence in equipment use and rope work as feeling well prepared to "bag the munros" in winter conditions allowing for the chance to walk in the mountains all year round.

NOTE: During the course we will to do two short presentations during the evening on avalanche avoidance technique and world mountaineering. Venues will be chosen depending on weather/snow conditions. The instructor has final say with everything to do with the syllabus and safety on the course.

Sample peaks on our Introductory Winter Mountaineering Course:

  • Bidean Nam Bian
  • Ben Nevis via Carn Mor Dearg Arete
  • Aonach Eagach Mor, the Mamores and choice Munro summits
  • Stob Coire Nan Lochan via Broad Gully or the Zig-Zags

Course Programme

Courses begin with a briefing on the evening of the start date; however, a detailed schedule with timings will be forwarded with your joining instructions at time of booking.

Group Size / Instructor Ratios
We work with small groups and group size is typically 6 persons whereby our instructor/guiding ratios will vary from 1:6 to 1:3 subject to element of risk and degree of supervision required per activity.

Equipment Loan
We provide all group equipment, such as ropes and climbing hardware; however, course participants need to provide their own clothing and personal equipment including crampon compatible winter walking boots (B3).

Specialist equipment may be available to borrow from us: i.e. crampons, ice axe, harness and helmet with advance notice; however, this is subject to availability and may be subject to an additional hire charge at our discretion. On completion of your booking we will forward a detailed equipment list.

Activity Information

Topics we cover:
  • Ice Axe Technique
  • Ice Axe Arrest
  • Crampon Techniques
  • Winter Navigation
  • Basic Map Work
  • Basic Winter Rope Work
  • Basic Movement Skills
  • Movement on Steep Ground
  • Avalanche Awareness
  • Interpreting Avalanche Reports
  • Avalanche Probing
  • Weather Forecasting
  • Mountain Safety
  • Emergency Shelters
  • Kicking & Cutting Steps
  • Snow, Axe & Ice Belays
  • Snow Pits & Shovel Tests
  • Snow Pack Assessment
PLEASE NOTE: due to time constraints, not all topics listed above will be listed in our Beginners Long Weekend Course (3 day)


Our courses exclude accommodation; however, this can be included to the cost of your course at time of booking for an additional charge. Accommodation is provided subject to availability and individual customer requirements and is based on a bed and breakfast or dinner, bed and breakfast tariff in a quality guest house or 2/3 Star hotel.

Accommodation is generally  based on twin room same sex sharing or a double where requested; however, should you require a single room this can be arranged at additional cost. Students are advised to confirm if they want us to organise their accommodation at time of booking and this will be included as a supplementary cost on your invoice.


Day 1

Tuesday evening: Course briefing at 9.00pm covering itinerary, equipment required for the first day, issue of pre-arranged hire kit and essential course information.

Day 2

Wednesday: Basic movement skills, use of ice axe and avalanche awareness. In the evening usually after dinner there will be a short presentation on winter navigation techniques.

Day 3

Thursday: Ice axe arrest, emergency shelters and avalanche awareness.

Day 4

Friday: Rope work, movement on steep ground and avalanche awareness

Day 5

Saturday: Putting it all together whilst navigating on a journey

Day 6

Sunday: Practising all of the skills as well as working on any weak areas. Departure


  • The above itinerary is applicable for our Stage 2 / Introductory Winter Mountaineering Course. Our shorter Beginners course will vary slightly

Dates and Prices Info

Prices are based on a group size of 3-6 people.

What's Included?

  • Full event planning and client liaison
  • Daily packed lunch
  • Instructional fees based on the optimum student to instructor ratio per activity
  • Road transport throughout the course programme
  • All group mountaineering equipment such as ropes and other technical equipment
  • Ice axes, crampons, harnesses & helmets by prior arrangement
  • 15% discount* for outdoor clothing and equipment at Cotswold Outdoors (*Note: excludes sale items, books and maps)

Not Included

  • Transport to/from the course venue
  • Hotel accommodation, on a twin sharing basis: dinner, bed and breakfast (Optional - subject to course supplement)
  • Mountaineering insurance (we recommend Snowcard)
  • Personal climbing equipment and clothing

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