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Winter mountaineering courses in Scotland

By 18th October 2020August 6th, 2022Winter, Winter Mountaineering


Joining one of our winter mountaineering courses in Scotland, you could find yourself on the north face cliffs of Ben Nevis or some of the alpine-like peaks of Glencoe. There’s just so much to choose from, if conditions allow.

What do we mean by ‘winter mountaineering’? The easiest way to ‘pigeon-hole’ it is by saying that it’s the winter equivalent of summer scrambling. The routes are typically long and lead to summits (like in summer scrambling). You need to move fairly continuously, unlike in pitched climbing (summer or winter) where you might be waiting at belays for considerable periods. Above all, you will be finding your way up steep mountain routes that merit a technical climbing grade, although a relatively low one.

The situations and views will be breathtaking, but to gain this reward you will be in places where the consequences of an un-checked slip would be very serious. For this reason, we usually use a rope for trickier or more serious sections, but not necessarily throughout the whole day. All of this is very comparable to summer scrambling. The big difference is that you will be moving using an ice axe and crampons.

Booking and Prices

If you’d like to know more about our winter mountaineering courses in Scotland, then see the main page for more details and prices or see what our clients say about us.

When you are ready, then get in touch to make an enquiry or a booking.

For those with more prior technical climbing experience, we also offer winter climbing courses. For novices, our winter skills courses are probably the most suitable choice.

We run winter mountaineering and climbing courses in the Lake District and Snowdonia if conditions allow. You can also read our article on beginners’ tips for winter mountain walking.

Winter mountaineering courses – Ben Nevis

Two climbers are caught in a patch of sunlight as they make their way up Ledge Route, on Ben Nevis, which is covered in deep snow

One of the most popular routes that we guide is Ledge Route, on the north face of Ben Nevis. Ledge Route is a very popular summer scramble, at Grade 1 or Grade 3, depending on which start you take. In winter, the same two options are available and it is a Grade II in winter climbing. But it also merits no less than 4-stars (where 3 has traditionally been the highest star rating). This means it is a stand-out route and is described as the best route of its grade on Ben Nevis.

When you look at the photograph, on the left, which is one of the classic photo stops, you can see why.

Winter Mountaineering Courses – Glencoe

Two climbers at a belay stance high up on Dorsal Arete in Glencoe on a winter mountaineering courseThe famous, long valley of Glencoe is home to some of the west coast’s most famous mountain peaks and scrambles. In winter, therefore, it has a wealth of winter mountaineering routes for our courses. Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor is one of the most well-known and most popular. This brilliant summer scramble is even more exciting and rewarding in winter conditions and you should not miss it.

The high cliffs of Stob Coire nan Lochan are another popular venue with many classic routes. The Grade II ridge of Dorsal Arete is a must-do route if you want to get started in winter mountaineering. In the photo below, from low down on the ridge, you look down on the Three Sisters of Glencoe and across the valley to the Aonach Eagach Ridge.

Winter Mountaineering Courses – other areas of Scotland

Winter mountaineering courses in Scotland - the Cairngorms, Glencoe or Ben NevisThe highlands of Scotland cover a vast area of the UK.  There is more winter mountaineering to be had on courses here than you can fit in a lifetime. Some of our other courses may take place in the Cairngorms or in central Scotland. Others take place in the far north, or even on the islands such as Skye. The photo below shows two mountaineers secured at a belay while waiting to set off on the trickier section of the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaoriann. This particular day was bitterly cold, as you can guess, but the views in all directions were quite superb.