Introductory winter courses

Course Overview

These five day starter level courses are aimed at people with limited experience of snow and ice covered mountains who would like to extend their summer activities to high mountains in winter. They offer an opportunity to learn about the special requirements of winter clothing; equipment; ice axe and crampon skills. A strong emphasis will be placed on navigation and winter survival techniques. Time will be spent each day assessing the weather and snow conditions in order to show methods of detecting potential avalanche slopes and choosing the safest and easiest routes of ascent and descent.


Most days (6/8hrs) will be spent on mountains between 600m and 1200m. A number of winter 'Munros' will be climbed. A reasonable level of fitness is required for people taking this course. Hopefully those attending will gain confidence in their own ability to travel more safely over snow covered mountains in future. Roped climbing is not included during this week, but very simple confidence ropework will be taught if required in order to safeguard the party on slippery winter mountains. The entry level for winter mountains.

Accommodation and kit details are shown at the top right of this course overview page. Ice axe, crampons and boots, harness and helmet can be hired if necessary. Follow the link for Kit Lists at the top of the main page for details of rental prices.

Course Details

Costs: £360.00 - instruction only - per person

Ratio: 1 Instructor to six people. Individuals or groups are welcome. Minimum 2 persons to run 4 weeks beforehand


Winter 2014

  • Jan 5 - 9
  • Jan 26 - 30
  • Feb 2 - 6
  • Feb 9 - 13
  • Feb 23 - 27
  • March 2 - 6
  • March 16 - 20
  • March 23 - 27
  • April 6 - 10
  • April 13 - 17 

All courses meet on Sunday morning and finish on the Thursday evening (six nights accommodation). Accommodation for the night prior to the course will be arranged for participants, once they have chosen a place to stay. Other dates to those above may be possible for groups so please get in touch to discuss.

Sample Programme

Saturday evening
Arrival at accommodation..

Kit checks - Essential skills - Step kicking/cutting - Ice axe arrest - Walking in crampons - Snow cave shelters.

Essential skills in use to ascend a 3,000ft mountain by a straightforward route in order to reinforce previous days training. Group survival shelters.

Essential skills - Navigation - Map & Compass - Pacing & Timing - 'White-out' techniques

Wednesday & Thursday
Client led days. Using the skills previously learnt course members are given the chance to plan and lead their own mountain days in company with the instructor. 

A comprehensive library of instructional and inspirational mountain videos and books is available for use throughout the course which will compliment the practical daily programme.

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 to arrange