Prepare for Winter

Course Overview

These two day courses are designed to help people who are considering visiting Scotland in the winter months to understand better the equipment; skills and experience required to move more confidently over snow and ice covered mountains. The programme will include practical advice on choosing and using clothing and equipment for winter activities. Poor weather navigation and survival techniques will be included along with a possible visit to the Ben Nevis plateau in order to gain first hand knowledge of the safest routes of ascent and descent. Snow and ice skills will be covered if conditions allow. An evening talk on winter mountain safety is part of the programme.

The courses are weekends, but it will be possible to arrange dates for groups of people wishing to attend outside of these times. The maximum course ratio is one instructor to eight course members.

Course members should arrange to arrive on the Friday evening prior to the weekend.

The course fee covers two nights accommodation and instruction. Discounts are available for groups or clubs making a block booking. Please phone/email for details. Gear rental is not included.
The price includes instruction and accommodation, but not equipment rental. Accommodation and kit details are shown at the top right of this  course overview page. 

Course Details

Costs: £120.00 - instruction only

Ratio: 1:8


November & December weekends 2013 if the snow arrives!

Sample Programme

Much will depend on the snow cover. The earliest snows usually fall in September, but are short-lived. October has been good in the past and can still provide conditions with 'thin' snowcover. By November and December, winter conditions can be good, but not very reliable.

Anything is possible, but keep in touch with the weather forecast. At this quiet time of the year West Coast Mountain Guides offer flexibility. What this means is that if the weather is a total washout with no snow, your course can be put off to a later date or a complete refund issued. Later in the winter season from January onwards, this will not be possible. The reason being that some snow will almost certainly be available and instructors are harder to find at short notice. Sorry, but that's the nature of winter mountains and what other sort of holiday provides a refund due to poor weather?

Kit Requirements

Winter Kit List


For Climbing in winter it is recommended to have a stiff soled, non-bendy B3 boot in either plastic or leather. For the mountaineering and introductory course, a solid leather B2 boot is adequate. Please check in a climbing shop before arrival. Boots can be hired by prior arrangement. If hiring please check the size you take at a climbing shop beforehand. One pair of thick socks is adequate, but often an additional thinner pair is more comfortable. Boots should not be very flexible or smooth soled.


Crampons should be ten or twelve pointers with front points. Clip-on crampons are very easy to fit on some boots, whilst traditional strap-on models are okay, but less easy to fit in cold windy conditions. A more rigid twelve point crampon is better for winter climbing. Anti-balling plates are recommended. Ask for advice if you are unsure.

Ice Axe

Ice Axe
For walking or general mountaineering an axe of 60/65cm is adequate. Climbing requires a shorter hammer and axe (50cm) with either an inclined (Banana) or drooped pick. A wrist loop should be fitted to climbing tools.

Not required for the introductory course. Please make sure the harness fits over thick clothing and can be put on over boots and crampons. Adjustable leg-loops are preferable for ease of fitting. The Black Diamond 'Bod' harness is very good in this respect.


All courses please bring one along if you can.

Long sling and two large karabiners (screwgate - HMS) Climbing and mountaineering courses.
Belay plate & screwgate karabiner (HMS) Climbing course only.

Waterproof jacket

Waterproof jacket and over trousers ( Outer shell clothing)
The trousers should have at least a knee length zip enabling them to be fitted over boots/crampons. This is an essential point to remember especially if you are hiring plastic boots. Take your waterproofs into a shop which sells plastic boots and try the boots on, then try and put on your over trousers. Lightweight waterproofs are often inadequate under severe winter conditions. A large hood with visor is essential for the jacket.

A medium volume sac (50/55 litres) is best for winter, with ice axe carrying loops. Please bring a strong plastic rucsac liner to keep the contents dry.

Bivvy Bag

Bivvy Bag
A large person sized poly survival bag is the minimum requirement, essential.

Essential for all courses.

Head Torch

Head Torch
Essential for all courses, plus spare battery and bulbs.

First Aid kit

First Aid kit
A small personal pack including medication for blisters. Sunscreen cream for April courses.

(sheet 41 & 34- 1:50,000) Whistle/Watch
The map should be weather-proofed in a clear plastic bag or covered with clear fablon (better) Essential.


Flask & Small sandwich Box
For hot drinks and food on the hill, essential.

Warm clothing
Warm woollen/fleece mitts (Dachsteins), hat/balaclava/socks (plus spares). Two sets of thermals/fleece, top and bottom and breeches/tracksuit trousers (not cotton). Down/feather duvet jackets aren't much use in the damp conditions sometimes experienced in Scotland!

Please indicate requirements before arrival (especially footwear) and ask for advice if you are unsure of your own equipment suitability (shell clothing is important) . If you arrive with the wrong kit it could jeopardize your safety and enjoyment on the course. Please ask for advice, especially if you are unused to Scottish weather conditions. Please keep this kit list if you book onto a course.


From £16.00 per night - Bunkhouse/Hostel/Self Cater 
From £26.00 per night - B&B 
From £50.00 per night - Hotel (includes all meals and packed lunch)

Accommodation above arranged through West Coast Mountain Guides


Contact Lime Tree directly