West Coast Mountain Guides have helped people interested in visiting mountain regions do so with both confidence and enjoyment For the last 25 years

Providing quality advice, instruction and guiding with sensible and friendly encouragement our approach means everyone can extend their horizons and develop their individual skills. From a UK introductory climbing course and then tackling Alpine peaks, onto to the North Face of the Eiger and the 8000m peaks around the world, we are there.

Our programmes take place across Britain and Europe throughout the year and covers all mountaineering activities from Hill Walking and Scrambling to summer and winter Climbing and Alpinism. Scottish winter experience stands alone for many but is also an ideal first step for those who wish to challenge themselves on Alpine peaks and opportunities to explore Skye are also on offer. We are working on developing a programme of ski touring and off-piste ski courses to provide for those who prefer the exhilaration of a faster descent and/or journeying through the mountains on ski.

Whether you’re a novice or an expert we cater for all levels of ability and offer programmes ranging from a single day to a two week alpine holiday. Many of West Coast Mountain Guides clients return for more and our small group numbers ensure we provide the maximum benefit.

Whatever your ambition, whether it’s reaching the summit of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, via the path or a Grade VI+ winter climb, scrambling over the Aonach Eagach, taking on the Inaccessible Pinnacle, climbing Mont Blanc , climbing the North Face of the Matterhorn or skiing across the Alps our flexible approach aims to meet your requirements. If you can’t see the activity or dates you are interested in appear please ask. Wherever you are looking for adventures if there are mountains or cliffs, we can be there!

Check mountain conditions and stories at Mountain Diary and Conditions and you can also share your stories on the blog. If you need any inspiration, why not check out our photo galleries. Whilst our website provides lots of information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Who Are We?

West Coast Scottish and Alpine Mountain Guides is directed by Ken Applegate MIC and Hannah Evans.  Throughout busy periods, West Coast Scottish and Alpine Mountain Guides employ fully qualified and highly experienced guides, instructors and leaders to run courses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Restricted to time off during school holidays

Let me know when your holidays are set. I will always run a course during school holidays and can be flexible to suit your schedule.

Which Course?

Would you recommend the first winter course that is listed on your web site or perhaps the introductory to intermediate one? I’m 31 years old and pretty fit but no experience really.

The intro to intermediate is a winter climbing course with ropes. If you have not used crampons and axe or rock climbed before I would recommend the winter mountaineering course as a good starter. This does include some very simple climbing. All the technical kit is supplied and you should supply your own personal stuff.

AND

Just a question about Winter course choice. I’ve got 2 summers experience in the Alps including an alpine intro course with jagged globe and various ascents including Mont Blanc though I haven’t been to the Alps for two years and have no winter experience. I’d like to do a winter course but don’t want to get too bogged down with the basics again (i.e will only need a brief refresher) I’d like to get on to more technical graded routes in preparation for undertaking more challenging mixed routes in the Alps in future. Would you suggest the ‘Intro – Intermediate’ or ‘Intermediate to advanced’ winter course?

kind regards,

Jon

Hello Jon,

Intro to intermediate ice climbing would be okay. The technical grades on that course extend up to grade IV. The advanced course is more for people who have already climbed at grade III/IV and wish to experience what the more sustained grade V routes are like, or try some leading. I hope this helps, but feel free to fire away with more questions.

Kit Supplied on Courses

As for the equipment list, for any given course the helmets/ice axes/crampons etc would be available from West Coast Mountain Guides. Everything else, head torch, rucsac, gaiters etc. etc. should be supplied by the participants.

Some equipment is available for rental or purchase, during the course.

Minimum numbers on a course and Weather

What would be the price for a single person and what is the minimum number of people required for the course to run? What level of experience is required for this particular course? On past experience, what are conditions like in January for this particular course? (I notice that most of these courses typically run
Feb/Mar).

Thanks for your enquiry concerning the winter mountaineering course. No minimum numbers are required to run the course. The course cost is as per the web site The mountaineering course would suit someone interested in tackling the more adventurous scrambly routes in winter conditions. Examples elsewhere in Britain could include Striding Edge or Snowdon Horseshoe in winter.The grade of difficulty is no more than winter II. Simple ropework is involved and the course is more than just a hillwalking one. Even for a person with limited winter experience these courses are okay, as the basics are also taught at the start of the course. What sort of experience have you in the mountains?

The weather at that time of the year can be as fickle as in February and March. The days are certainly shorter and snow build-up can sometimes be less than later on in the winter. It has always been possible to run this course at that time of the year.

Equipment – Boots

I’ve not been to Scotland in Feb so I have been looking at your kit list and want to ask a few questions.
I am on the introductory course and I am wondering whether my B1 Scarpa SLs are not going to be up to the job. Should I definitely be using B2s?There are two of us on the introductory course, can we share maps or is it essential that we arrive with our own set of both? What do you mean by lightweight outer shells being inadequate? I have a very decent pair of trousers but my jacket is fairly lightweight. What should I look for in a jacket to ensure its sufficient?

Answer

You can rent if your lighter boots are not up to the mark. Bring your boots and we will have a look at them. B2 boots are normally better. Whilst on the course you could share maps, but I recommend that everyone in a group has everything, so they can be independent if anything goes wrong and you get split up. Material such as Paclite can get easily damaged by crampons, axe or just hard snow. Please consider buying tougher stuff in future for winter work. All of your questions are valid and part of the learning process hopefully. Just fire away with anything else which comes to mind.

Mont Blanc Training

3 of us (early, but fit, mid 40s with good walking and some positive winter experience are looking at doing Mont Blanc next year, 2009. This year we are doing a winter overnight route in the Cairngorms, North East Ridge, Angel’s Peak and in early summer looking at doing Mulhacen, Spain’s highest point.

What I would like your advice on is in doing Mont Blanc, could you offer us a personal winter introduction, safety skill course, say 3 or 4 days in Scotland, and also would it be worth providing us with a guide during the ascent next year.

I have done a winter course myself, some years back, but my 2 friends are new to it, but are very keen.
We did an over night on the summit of Ben Nevis last winter but I don’t know if to get some basic training and then do Mont Blanc on our own, or to arrange a guide.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Answer

Hi Nick,

A good Scottish winter training course would be very useful towards the Alps. You could also include an overnight if you wish, but it would be more important to get the axe, crampon and rope skills sorted first. After doing the Scottish course we would know better if you were ready for Mt Blanc. Please keep in touch with any more questions you might have. I have attached both a Scottish and Alpine kit list for your information.

Food Requirements

Many thanks for your newsletter.

I wonder if you can help, I’m starting a Introduction Mountain course with you at the beginning of March and wonder if you can let me know approximately how far we’re likely to be walking each day? The reason I’d like to know is to help me work out how much food, what types of food and water to prepare for.

Best wishes,
Gordon

Hello Gordon,

Each day starts at around 0800 and return at approximately 1700. The distances involved can vary but most days visit the top of a 3000 – 4000 ft mountain and cover anything up to ten miles. The water in mountain streams can be drunk confidently, but I normally take a flask with a hot drink of some sort and a variety of sandwich and flapjack. It’s worth having a chocolate bar or two tucked into your pocket. Stopping for a bite to eat, can be short, especially if the weather is poor. It’s often a case of snacking quickly through the day. A big bowl of porridge in the morning usually sets me up, whilst pasta type food in the evening and plenty of non-alcoholic liquid is advised. Obviously a few beers can help, but drink lots of water as well.

Hope this helps.

Gloves

Hi Bruce,
Love your web site, really informative! Can you help me with a small request? I’ve lost an excellent magazine article by you in which you mentioned the brand/type of industrial gloves you use for mountaineering work. I’ve been going mad trying to find a decent pair that really work for ML / climbing instruction. Can you help me with this?

Answer

Hello Bob,

I didn’t mention a brand, but the gloves I often use can be found in most builders merchants. They are heavy duty yellow cotton material with a plastic rubber mesh type coating spun on to them like a spiders web. They are not waterproof and I usually put a pair of ‘thinnies’ underneath in order to add a little warmth. They cost very little and when they wear out are cheaply replaced, unlike gloves you buy in an outdoor shop. They offer a very good grip on ropes and rock and are really useful on Skye Gabbro and simple Alpine ridges. I probably would not use them much in a wet Scottish winter.

Also, visit either a hardware store or a garden centre and you might find some good leather gloves in these places. The ski patrol teams in Chamonix use them a lot! I’m not keen on leather gloves as they tend to slip badly on icy rock.

Crampons

Been thinking about getting some new crampons and was wondering if you have any favorites..?actually the ones i have used for the past 8 years or so (Stubai Tyrols) were also suggested by you and they have been great.

Answer

Try Grivel or Petzl Also try Barkers of Ringwood for advice. Steve Barker comes up here a lot and knows a thing or two about winter climbing/mountaineering in UK and farther afield. I’m going to be using Cyborg crampons (CLIP) this winter, but only for ice climbing. They are a more specialised model. The models I have shown first are good for anything, as well as climbing, mountaineering and the Alps.

Another answer

All the leading brands of crampon are very good and, to be honest, are much of a muchness. Unless you are intending to climb Scottish winter grade Vlll with one arm tied behind your back my advice is to focus on the crampons that fit your boots best as this is the most critical factor. Some crampons fit some brands of boot better than others. Take your boots to a shop with a good range and get them to fit them for you. The crampon should go on easily and if they are of the step in type then the heel clip should close with a reassuring snap. There should be good contact between the sole of the boot and the crampon along the full length and especially at the heel and toe. If you have large boots then remember that most good manufacturers have extension bars for the crampon.

Hope this helps

Steve Barker
Barkers of Ringwood

Back safely after our trip to Skye last week. We had a great time and it is a memorable experience. Both of our guides, Bruce & Ken, were excellent- professional and personable and they made our trip safe and enjoyable. I miss the mountains already. Outstanding views one day with grey summits for the rest! Hard to believe it’s over now-we are already looking forward to our next escape.

Memorable Experience

Just wanted to say thanks to Dave for a brilliant day out on Friday. He was really patient and helped me gain a lot of confidence in a short space of time. Amazingly he also managed to satisfy both our differing learning needs meaning we both had a great day in the mountains

Brilliant Day

Just a quick note to say thanks and to let you know that, as I am sure you know, Matt was a really good guide. One of the best I have had

Great Guide

What a tremendous couple of day! To be on Tower Ridge with that weather, words cannot describe it. I also can’t believe we had the place to ourselves for most of the day… A big thanks you.

What a tremendous couple of days!

Hi
Just to say thanks for organising the guiding for us. We had 2 great days with Bruce, who was a very safe pair of hands!

A Safe Pair of Hands!

‘The trip was great thanks, a real eye opener and definitely changed my mind set about being fixated on just one peak – Im really excited about the potential scope for what can be done and will definitely be looking to do another trip with you’

Great Trip

I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for the skills, knowledge and wisdom shared with myself and Rob on our course at the weekend. It gave us an insight into the challenges that lie ahead in the mountains and we learned huge amounts from yourself and Jake over the two days. I appreciated the fact that you were patient but never indulgent. But it was also great fun. I wish you the best of luck on your future climbs, and I’ll be sure to recommend you to anyone I know who is considering such a course. And please pass on our thanks to Jake too.

Thank You

Just wanted to send a note to say thank you for the excellent winter skills. Janice and I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. We were both very impressed by Hannah’s knowledge, friendliness, professionalism and passion for the mountains. We both felt very safe and would not hesitate booking another course in the future and recommending your company to our friends. Many thanks

Impressed

Thank you for planning and organising our trip to the Alps. Both the course and the ascent of Mont Blanc were a great experience. Chris is a demanding guide but nevertheless we both feel that we learnt so much in his company. As an introduction to alpine mountaineering the whole experience has equipped us with the potential to venture safely into the Alps in future should we wish. This is all we hoped. Mont Blanc was the icing on the cake. Thanks

Mont Blanc