Essential 5 Day Winter Mountaineering Skills in the Cairngorms £355pp

Nothing beats being in the mountains in winter. Clear crisp air, sparkling snow and the sound of your boots crunching their way to the summit.
During this weeks winter skills course in the Cairngorm National Park, you will learn all the essential skills needed for you to plan your own fantastic winter adventures in the mountains.
The skills we teach will stay with you forever.

We are really keen on coaching safe movement skills over different types of terrain, from iced up rocky summits to firm snow slopes and everything in-between, both in your winter boots and when wearing crampons, this is a key core skill for safe balance avoiding trips and slips.

You will learn about weather forecasting and avalanche forecasts, we will teach you simple repeatable snow pack tests to improve your awareness and avoidance of possible avalanche prone slopes.

Most of all we aim to have fun, while your enthusiastic experienced instructors show you their winter playground.

2022 Dates

February 21st – 25th Only 3 places left!
March 7th – 11th TBC

Where is the course? Who is it suitable for? What do I need?

Where?

This winter skills course takes place in the Cairngorm National Park which is a fantastic place for learning the basics on easy angled ground right through to classic winter mountaineering with a wide choice of area’s, routes and objectives to choose from. We generally meet at the Cairngorm ski resort initially, and other local areas will be utilised inline with snow and weather conditions.

What about accommodation?

The advertised price is course only and we recommend booking accommodation in the general Aviemore area, there are plenty of options to choose from AirBnB, hotels, guest houses etc.

Who is the course for?

Ideally you should have a fair amount of previous 3 season hiking experience, as you will allready know a fair amount about the type of ground and weather conditions that can exist in the hills and mountains of the UK. You should also have a good level of general hiking fitness. If you have some summer grade 1 scrambling experience then all the better.

Course Ratios and instructors

Maximum ratio’s during the week are 6 clients to 1 instructor. Our instructors all hold a minimum of Winter Mountain Leader with excellent local area knowledge and years of experience delivering mountain skills to civilian, military and SAR personnel.

What kit do I need?

You will need clothing and footwear suitable for winter mountaineering.

Please read our A suggested kit list for our winter skills courses for full details and also feel free to ask us for advice.

We will provide helmets, ropes and other technical and emergency group kit.

Crampons, walking boots and walking axes can be hired at Mountain Spirit, Nevis Sport and Ellis Brighams, They are all in Aviemore.

Alternatively you can hire Crampons and Axes from us for £50.00 per set for the duration of the course – early booking essential.

What will I learn?

During the week long course, we will be coaching you in 4 Key Foundations Skills:

  • What the mountain area weather forecast means to you
  • How to make sense of the avalanche forecast, plus use the Be Avalanche Aware information and the NIVO Test
  • Route choice and planning with Map and compass navigation applicable to winter
  • Coaching useful techniques for walking in those big boots and when wearing crampons

Below are some of the skills you will learn during the course, and they will stay with you for a lifetime!

Crampon and boot techniques
Techniques for safe travel on steeper ground
Use of mountaineering axe
Ice axe arrest
Refresher of existing personal skills
Safety in the winter environment
Mountain Weather forecasting
Lots of Winter navigation
Appraisal of avalanche risk
Avalanche hazard forecast, snow pack study, Emergency snow shelters
What to do in an emergency, basic overview of avalanche transceivers and companion rescue (we deliver additional focused modular courses)

A typical Itinerary for the week

During the 5 day course the ‘additional’ in-depth daily course content will be covered as we spend each day in the mountains.

  • Mountain Weather forecasting
  • Route choice planning based on weather and snow conditions
  •  Lots of map and compass Navigation techniques applicable to winter environment
  • Appreciation of different type of clothing, footwear and equipment
  • Snow pack study
  • Basic Overview of avalanche transceivers

Typical itinerary during the 5 days:

Day One
A hello from your course director and instructional staff giving us a chance to hear what your personal goals are for the week ahead.
Each day there is a morning brief covering the mountain weather forecast and also the avalanche forecast and what that means to us.
This morning you will learn how to check and adjust the fit of your crampons to your boots, we will compare what we have packed for a day in the mountains, what do your instructors carry, where we pack different items in our rucksack and where we pack sharp items like crampons and an axe, and later, how we carry them once on the mountain. Then we will head out to a suitable venue for a day in the mountains to learn safe travel skills across varied terrain using boots, mountaineering axe and crampon techniques. If conditions allow we will also cover ice axe arrest training.
Day Two
Weather and avalanche forecast and a recap of the previous day and a venue chosen based on the forecasts.
Today will be based in the mountain, we will start to look at map planning a journey based on the weather and the snow conditions we find. You will learn map and compass techniques to plan and follow a route regardless of visibility, pacing, timing, contour interpretation, taking bearings on a map and on the ground.We will also look at digital mapping, mapping apps and what you should do in an emergency including the use of emergency shelters and possible construction of snow shelters/snow holes types for rapid protection from bad weather scenarios. We will also look at different snow and avalanche types.
Day Three
Weather and avalanche forecast, a recap on the previous days learning, choice of venue based on the forecast.
A full on mountain journey day to consolidate your new skills and confidence. A chance for you to plan parts of the days route, practice your navigation, consolidate your boot, axe and crampon skills as you travel through different terrain and slope steepness, applying what you have learned about avalanche avoidance.
Day Four
Weather and avalanche forecast, a recap on the previous days learning, choice of venue based on the forecast.
Another mountain day based on the prevailing weather and snow/avalanche conditions, more planning, more navigation, adding the possibility of an easy ridge route today if conditions are good.
Day Five
Our last day in the mountains and a chance for the group to plan one last adventure. You will use all your new knowledge and skills to plan a suitable mountain journey, this will definitely involve mugs of tea/coffee and sticky buns and cakes at the end!

By the end of your winter skills course you will be much better prepared for your adventures in the winter mountain environment and above all you will have had expert tuition from fully qualified instructors with a wealth of worldwide winter mountaineering experience.