Winter Climbing - Ben Nevis - CIC Hut

Course Overview

This course is based at the highest mountain hut in the British Isles, 680m above sea level, at the foot of the most extensive and challenging winter climbing cliffs anywhere in the country. It is being held in late winter to make the most of snow and ice conditions, which usually have consolidated well by that time. This course is ideal for intermediate or advanced levels of participant from grade III to V. People booking should indicate their upper level of aspiration and instructional or guiding requirements. The course meets on the Sunday morning for introductions and a kit check.

The Sunday is spent preparing, shopping and walking up to the hut (1 - 2 hours) and settling in. Climbing instruction/guiding takes place on five days (Mon to Fri). It is possible to shop for food in Fort William on both Saturday and Sunday if necessary (food should be provided by those attending the course). All cooking utensils are available at this basic but comfortable hut which can accommodate up to eighteen people. It is served by bottled gas and wind power for lighting, heating and cooking. A sleeping bag should be brought for use in the hut. Foam mattresses are provided. Accommodation in Fort William for the Saturday night prior to the week and Friday afterwards can be booked in advance. Please indicate your preference, Self Catering or B&B.
Links to accommodation and kit information can be viewed at the top right of this course overview page.


Course Details

Costs: £750.00 Includes hut fees - per person

Ratio: 1:2 (Grade III to V)


Winter 2014

  • March 2 - 7
  • March16 - 21

Course meets on the Sunday morning in Fort William at the West Coast Mountain Guides basecamp (1000) and finishes on the following Friday afternoon.

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


Getting to the hut involves a drive up through the forest, followed by a strenuous one and half hour walk.