Winter Mountaineering

Course Overview

This course, offers a considerable breadth of activities, ranging from basic axe and crampon skills, to roped gully or ridge climbing (Grade I/II). Throughout the five days, opportunities to learn more about snow and ice climbing, navigation in poor visibility and winter survival techniques/snow shelters are offered, along with daily weather, avalanche and climbing condition assessments.

This programme aims to give those taking part the confidence and knowledge necessary to visit winter mountains more safely in future. Ideal for winter mountaineers wishing to explore more adventurous routes of ascent (Aonach Eagach - Curved Ridge - Ledge Route, etc). The courses would be useful training for people considering visiting the Alps in future. A comprehensive library of instructional and inspirational mountain videos and books is available for use throughout the course. 

Links to accommodation and kit information can be viewed 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. Courses meet on the Sunday morning and finish on the following Thursday evening. Accommodation is for six nights (Sat to Thurs). 

Course Details

Costs: £420.00 - instruction only - per person

Ratio: 1 Instructor to 4 course members


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). Except Easter. Accommodation for the night prior to the course will be arranged for participants, once they have chosen a place to stay.


Sample Programme

Saturday evening
Arrivals at accommodation.

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

Essential skills - Using previous skills to ascend a simple graded ridge or gully (Grade I/II). Introduction to 'moving together' roped and basic winter belays. Group survival shelters.

Essential skills - Ascent of simple ridge or gully followed by Navigation, Map & Compass, Pacing & Timing.

Ridge climbing day led by clients in company with instructor (Grade II)

Client choice depending on conditions and fitness level.


This course is aimed at winter scrambling where a rope will be used a good deal, although the difficulty of the routes will always be in the entry level climbing grades. It may be possible to climb Ledge Route (II) on Ben Nevis, Curved Ridge (II), Buachaille Etive Mor or Dorsal Arete (II) Stob Coire nan Lochan (Glen Coe) or the Aonach Eagach Ridge (Glen Coe)

Individuals or groups are welcome. No minimum numbers. 

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