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Getting down is mandatory.

'The Summit is Optional'? That's a strange name for a mountaineering business isn't it? Perhaps. But it is one half of the famous quotation by the American mountaineer, Ed Viesturs, and it's certainly a philosophy that we share.

Mountain guiding and climbing courses in the Lake District, Yorkshire, the Peak District, Eryri (Snowdonia) and Scotland with a fully qualified Winter Mountaineering & Climbing Instructor (WMCI)

“Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” This is the idea behind all our mountain guiding and climbing courses. Our courses have plenty of physical and technical challenge, learning, enjoyment and fun However, our aim is to give you the skills that you need to enjoy the mountains safely. We want to help you become self-reliant mountaineers and to make sound decisions. After all, it’s only if you get down safely that you get to go back another time.

There are so many special moments to be had in the mountains. Sometimes, being on the summit is part of this enjoyment and achievement. Very often that’s at the heart of why people want to climb mountains. But not always. Sometimes there is just as much pleasure to be had without actually getting to the top. For example, enjoying the stunning landscapes, the incredible geology, the amazing flora and fauna, or simply having a chance to ‘get away from it all’.

Therefore we want to make sure you get as much as possible from our courses, but in a way that suits you, whether we get to the summit or not. The summit really is optional.

About me


Hello and thank you for looking me up. My name is Patrick Hickie and I’ve been mountaineering and climbing for over 40 years now. It’s a pleasure to be a fully qualified professional Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (WMCI) and a member of our association, AMI. The WMCI is the highest UK national award covering all aspects of climbing and mountaineering.

I’ve held both the Summer and Winter Mountain Leader awards for over 30 years. I’m also proud to be a fully qualified professional International Mountain Leader (IML) and a member of our association, BAIML.


Mountaineering and climbing are broad activities and I’ve been involved in many aspects of these over the years. This includes hill walking; scrambling; ‘trad’ and sport rock climbing; winter climbing (both ice and mixed); Alpine mountaineering; ski-touring; and expeditions to the greater ranges. Some good luck has seen me on first and second ascent expeditions in the Himalayas and climbing in corners of the world as far flung as Alaska, Patagonia and New Zealand. I’ve climbed and ski-toured in the Alps and Norway. Nearer to home, I have been mountaineering and rock climbing all over the UK from the sea cliffs of Cornwall to the north face of Ben Nevis.

All this should therefore mean two things for you. First, as an experienced mountaineering and climbing instructor I’ve plenty of experience to pass on to you to help make you a self-reliant and safe mountaineer. Second, I know my way around very many (but by no means all!) of the best hills, mountains and cliffs that the UK has to offer.

As a result, whatever the time of year, whatever the weather and whatever your goals, I will be able to choose the right place to enable you to get the best out of your course.

Mountain Guiding and Climbing Courses

All of our mountain guiding and climbing courses are bespoke (but not expensive), tailored to meet your needs, involving any combination of the activities listed on the Indoor Climbing,  Summer Mountaineering and Winter Mountaineering pages. We regularly run courses in Wales, usually in Eryri (Snowdonia), the Lake District, the Peak District and Scotland.

Rather than offer pre-set courses, we would prefer to talk to you about your personal aims and objectives, your current level of experience and ability, and what you are looking for from the course. Together, we can then agree the most appropriate course content. Starting prices are shown on the relevant activity’s page.

Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor - Snowdonia, Lake District, Yorkshire, Peak District and Scotland