The Scottish Highlands is one of the most challenging and exciting places
for winter climbing. It's a beautiful yet hostile mountain environment,
with unpredictable weather and wildly variable climbing conditions. It
always leaves a deep impression on anyone who climbs here.
winter 2014 the valley base for next winter's
climbing courses will again be the Aviemore area of the
formed Cairngorms National
The Cairngorm mountains, with their high
arctic plateau, are literally on the doorstep and have the most reliable
winter climbing conditions in Scotland. The climbing is nothing less
than superb, being wonderfully varied and with reasonably short approaches
to many of the routes. This combination of good climbing and relative
ease of access makes the Northern Cairngorms, without doubt, simply the best
area in Scotland for learning winter climbing
skills. More can be achieved with what time you have available ....and
in a stunningly beautiful location on top class routes.
The Northern Corries are the Cairngorms' most
popular climbing area and justifiably so (sometimes even matching the popularity of
Ben Nevis). An early start never lets this popularity get in the way of a good day's climbing and ensures a huge choice of routes at all grades. And just by dropping 'over the back' into the Loch Avon basin, a feeling of remoteness can be thrown into the mix in a fantastically big setting and always with surprisingly few climbers.
If you'd like to experience
an even wilder side of Scottish winter climbing, a day of your
course can entail a trip to a less frequented mountain area with a bigger sense of
adventure. For example, the Torridonian mountains or An Teallach, with their
possibilities, are easily within
striking distance of Aviemore. Alternatively, some of the most impressive ice falls in Scotland are less than an hour's drive away at Creag Meagaidh.
winter climbing courses are arranged on request. Just get in contact with your preffered dates and we'll take it from there. Prices and booking information can be found on the bookings page.
If you haven't climbed in winter before, or you're looking to brush
up on your skills, here are a few examples of what's on offer;
beginners winter climbing a short introductory
course of between 2 and 4 days can be arranged for just youself or with
After a morning's refresher on the basics of using crampons and how
to ice axe arrest, you'll get to tackle a couple of the Cairngorms' quality
winter climbs. You can cut your teeth on a relatively easy snow gully
and on the following day, fight your way up a typical Cairngorm mixed
route. In essence, these first few days are all
about learning how to look after yourself seconding Scottish winter
climbs, which can often be a very wild and elemental experience!
From then on we can move through the skills needed to become a self reliant
winter climber, at a pace you're capable of and comfortable with.
no substitute for hands on experience when it comes to being a safe
winter climber. That's why new skills and techniques have to be learnt
situations. Together we'll choose routes that will not only create
good learning opportunities but also memorable climbing days. You'll
see a variety of snow and ice anchors being used, some cunning ways
to arrange protection and some innovative methods of belaying in snow.
There'll be plenty of practice at quickly evaluating snow conditions
and sussing out the safest approach or retreat from
a climb. There's even tips on how to navigate back to the car
when the weather craps out. It's advisable to book at least 2 days
of instruction if you're really intent on improving your skills.
guiding guided winter climbing can be arranged
anywhere in the Highlands, whether it's
to tick a 'Cold Climbs' classic or for a mission to discover the
far North West. Go ahead and broaden your winter climbing experience
and enjoy being guided. I'm happy to guide on routes of grade
I to V on snow and ice, and up to V 6 mixed, conditions permitting.
Guided winter climbing is available on a daily basis. However, if you
have your eyes on a particularly long or more serious/technical route (e.g. Tower Ridge or a Liathach
ice climb), it will be necessary to check out your
current level of fitness and climbing ability on a shorter/easier climb,
will require an
winter climbing - clothing and equipment having good quality mountain clothing is essential for winter climbing in Scotland. There's
clothing and equipment advice on the winter
kit list (pdf) which will give you an idea of the personal stuff you'd need to bring along.
For any winter climbing course or guided day out, all technical climbing equipment is provided free of charge. This includes good, modern technical
axes and crampons, if you don't have your own.
winter gallery for an idea of what Scotland in winter can be like, take a look here. You can also click on any of the images on this page to get
a bigger picture.
p.s. it's worth noting a beginners winter climbing course can be tailored
to accommodate most abilities. Some previous rock climbing and winter
walking experience is a distinct
advantage but more important is a good level of fitness. If you have
no experience of being on a mountain in winter, a day's winter skills
training will be necessary before we go climbing.