Winter Skills Course

(20 Reviews)
2 Day Course £175
5 Day Course £385
From£175
2 Day Course £175
5 Day Course £385
From£175
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  • 2 Day Winter Skills CoursesAvailable: 3 seats
  • 5 Day Winter Mountaineering CourseAvailable: 3 seats

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Why Book With Us?

  • Small and friendly outdoor business
  • Easy and secure booking
  • Large list of equipment included (see kit list)
  • Friendly, qualified and experienced instructors

Got a Question?

Don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help you.

07725 806870

mail@unexplored.scot

2 or 5 Days
Availability : January - April
Aviemore
Min Age : 18
Max People : 6

At Unexplored Scotland, we provide a winter skills course every week from early January till early April. The winter mountains in Scotland provide some of the UK’s most demanding and rewarding mountaineering conditions. Travelling over these hills on high levels often requires a very mature set of multiple skills to ensure a successful and enjoyable day.

Join a fun 2-day or 5-day winter skills course at the Cairngorms near Aviemore. Learn how to use the ice axe, walk with crampons and plan a safe day in the hills with weather and avalanche in mind. We always aim to coach practical skills, which will be useful in future winter outings. The 5-day course also includes a night in a snowhole.

Winter Skills Course in the Cairngorms

Aviemore is ideal for winter courses in the Highlands. The Cairngorms has more guaranteed snow than most other areas in the Highlands and it is less of a walk to get to usable snow.

Select the date and then the 2 or 5 day package on the booking form.

2 Day courses are from the 2nd week of January till the first week of April
5 Day courses are from the 3rd week of January till the end of March

tripadvisorCan’t find the right date or course? Simply contact us and we will try our best to organise a different date for you.

Tour Details

First 2 Days Winter Skills Course

The 2-day winter skills course in Scotland will be in the west coast hills near Aviemore and covers all aspects of winter hillwalking in the UK. These courses run every weekend from January to April because we like to give you as many options as possible. Most of all we focus on practical skills. We will practice ice axe arresting while wearing a rucksack and fit crampons on steeper ground. To learn the ice axe arrests easier, we stagger the training and make sure everyone has a great time. So we are not just going through the motions, but offering a course worth every penny.

All winter skills course also covers avalanche awareness. How to plan a day walking in the hills and prevent being caught out. Furthermore, we have a look at detecting unstable snow. If necessary we also cover some winter navigation and map reading.

We will meet in the morning in Aviemore and drive to the hills after an introduction. The main locations we use for the winter mountaineering course are near Cairn Gorm.  All our instructors are qualified Winter Mountain Leaders or Mountain Instructors and have years of experience in running winter courses.

We provide more kit for free than anyone else, so you don’t have to buy or borrow them. In our winter skills courses, we offer the free use of ice axes, crampons, helmets, mountaineering rucksacks, goggles and warm hats. Finally, after this winter mountaineering course, participants should be self-reliant walkers in the Scottish hills.

5 Day Winter Skills Course

The third day is kind of a flexible day where the course can either focus more on already covered skills or it could include some rope work.

Finally, the highlight of the course is a 2-day expedition with navigation and staying in a snowhole. You will build a snowhole from scratch in a remote area and stay in it for a night.

We offer group discounts for groups of 3 and over. Just click on book now at the date you want to book, increase the number of participants in the basket and update to see how much you can save.

Our Working Dog

Sastrugi is our working dog at Unexplored Scotland. She is a very friendly Alaska Malador (Malamute/Labrador cross) and enjoys walking in the snow. I hope you all like to meet her on our courses. You must let us know before booking if you don’t want our dog on the winter skills course.

Location

Aviemore

Start Time

8:30am

Price Includes

  • Winter Equipment (ice axe and crampons)
  • 35-45L Mountaineering Rucksack
  • Navighation Equipmet
  • Safety Equipment (helmet, group shelter, etc.)

Additional Kit for 5 Day Course

  • Therm-a-Rest Xtherm Sleeping Mat
  • Army Style Bivvi Bag
  • 4 Season Hollowfibre Sleeping Bag
  • Cooking Equipment

Have a look at the Kit List below for more information about what we provide and what you need to bring.

Price Excludes

  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Winter Walking BootsWe can help you finding local boot hire.

Complementaries

  • Lifts from Aviemore to the hills at the Cairngorms is not included in the price, We can however give up to 3 people per course a lift. Please fill out a participation form after booking the course if you would like a lift. It's on a first come first served basis.
What to Expect

Conditions in the Lochaber hills can test even the most experienced. Short winter days, the ever present avalanche risk and the requirement to navigate with accuracy make a compelling challenge. At Unexplored Scotland, we have over 10 years of experience in guiding and training in all winter conditions. We always choose the safer options and we have a friendly environment. It is a place to learn new skills and be relaxed about what you do. Check out our reviews in TripAdvisor to find out more about what it is like to take part on one of our courses.

  • Friendly and Relaxing Environment
  • Qualified Winter Mountain Leader or MIC
  • Quality Equipment
  • Over 10 Years of Course Experience
  • Over 20 Years of Local Knowledge

Frequently Asked Questions

Some common enquiries.

If your questions haven’t been answered feel free to contact us.

What is included in the price?

Most winter specific equipment like ice axe, crampons, helmet but also rucksacks, ski goggles etc.. For a full list have a look at the Kit list below.

What is not included in the price?

Personal equipment like jackets, waterproofs and boots. For a full list of what you need to bring have a look at the Kit list below.

Can I buy a gift voucher?

Please contact us if you atre interested in buying a gift voucher.

Do I need Insurance?

We highly recommend that all of our customers take out insurance to cover their course or tour, specifically covering cancellation and curtailment of your course/tour as well as accident and personal injury. We will not be able to refund your course fee should you cancel within 6 weeks of the start of the course.

Can I get a lift to the hills from Aviemore?

Lifts from Aviemore to the hills at the Cairngorms is not included in the price, We can however give up to 3 people per course a lift. Please fill out a participation form after booking the course if you would like a lift. It’s on a first come first served basis.

Itinerary

Day 1Intro to Winter Skills Course

Meet up in Aviemore in the morning and get on snow to work on basic skills.

Walking in the snow, kicking steps
Cutting steps with an ice axe
Different techniques of cutting steps
Using crampons
Learn about snow and avalanche risk

Day 2Continue with Intro to Winter Skills

Meet in Aviemore and head to the hills. Work some more on those winter skills and move on to how to stop yourself from slipping or sliding down the side of a hill. The key focus on this day is ice axe arrests and how to prevent sliding down a hill.

Day 3 Flexible Day (5 Day Course Only)

Learn how to navigate in the winter. Since there are many features of a map covered by snow you need to be much more precise than navigating in summer. Alternatively you could do some rope work. Learn how to build snow anchors like buried ice axe, bollard and stomper. Also will introduce you to safety and rescue procedures. In the evening pack all the gear for a 2-day expedition.

Day 4First Day of Expedition (5 Day Course Only)

Walk to a good location for snowholing. We would need a large accumulation of snow to be able to dig deep enough. We then start digging which can take between 2 and 6 hours, all depending on the snow pack.

Day 5Final Day (5 Day Course Only)

In the morning we will pack our things and depending on the weather conditions we aim to walk back down the hill or make it a bit of a journey.

Kit List
What We Provide
  • Climbing helmet
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons (C2 only)
  • Ski goggles
  • Warm hat
  • Mountaineering rucksack (35-55 litres)
  • 1:50,000 laminated map
  • Silva Expedition compass
  • Snow shovel
  • Safety Equipment
Additional kit for 5 Day Course
  • 4 season hollow-fibre sleeping bag
  • Them A Rest XTherm sleeping mat
  • Army style bivvi bag
  • Stove and cooking utensils
What You need to bring
  • Winter walking boots (B2 or B3)
  • Waterproof jacket (absolut minimum 10,000mm, ideally 3 layer with 20,000mm waterproof rating)
  • Waterproof trousers (trousers you don't mind to slide on snow with)
  • Suitable warm clothing for walking (synthetics and outdoor wool only, no jeans)
  • Warm fleece or belay jacket (down jackets are not suitable)
  • Packed lunch
  • Hot drink flask
  • Sun cream
  • Warm Hat
  • Balaclava
  • Sunglasses
  • Several wind and waterproof gloves (ideally 3 pairs)
  • Water bottle (not hydartion system with hose)
  • Headtorch & spare batteries
Additional kit for 5 Day Course
  • Rucksack for expedition, minimum 55 litres (we have a few spare, contact us if you need one from us)
  • Spare clothing like additional fleece, belay jacket or down jacket
  • Spare socks
  • Spare warm, leather or waterproof mountain gloves
  • 2 dinner or torpedo candles
  • Outdoor mug
  • Spork or spoon

Note about crampons and boots: At Unexplored Scotland we only provide C2 crampons or higher on the winter skills course. These will only fit B2 or B3 boots. You can recognise these boots by the stepped or grooved sole at the heel to clip in C2 crampons. We highly recommend B2 or B3 boots for winter hillwalking or mountaineering. Softer boots like summer or B1 boots may flex too much to get proper purchase in harder snow or may not fit crampons properly.

You can hire boots at some of the shops in Aviemore or somewhere on the way. I would always advise to call them to book the boots before the course.
Cairngorm Mountain Sport Aviemore 01479 810903 – £20 for 2 days, £35 for 5 days
Ellis Brigham Aviemore 01479 810175 – £18 for 2 days, £26 for 5 days
Tiso Aviemore 01479 788840 – £20 for 3 days, £30 for 7 days
Tiso Inverness 01463 729171 – £20 for 3 days, £30 for 7 days
Tiso Perth 01738 634464 – £20 for 3 days, £30 for 7 days

20 Reviews
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Suzanna T

Solo Traveller

I did a two day winter skills course with Unexplored Scotland earlier this year with my friend and we really enjoyed it. Andreas was a great instructor with a lot of local knowledge who tailored activities to the abilities and interests of the group. I’d never done anything similar before and he was very patient and clear. Andreas also provides plenty of equipment so that we didn’t need to hire much ourselves. Thoroughly recommend!

10th March 2022

CKing

Solo Traveller

“Booked onto the 5 day winter skills course in February, based out of Fort William, and had a brilliant time!

Andreas knew good spots to practice the basics of crampon and ice axe use, and we put these to the test with bigger hills days in the latter half of the week.

Unfortunately the weather had slightly different ideas, but our plan was fully adjustable and we made the short trip across to the Cairngorms to ensure good mountain days.

Andreas is friendly, approachable and communicative. He has a clear lesson plan and structure and spent time to go into the theory of route planning and avalanche awareness. The peak was digging a massive snow cave on the side of Cairn Gorm!

I would absolutely recommend Andreas for anyone wanting to learn the basics of winter mountaineering.”
Read less

3rd March 2022

Malc K

Solo Traveller

Booked a 5 day winter skills course last winter, would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys summer hill walking but who isn’t experienced with full winter conditions. Learned a lot of valuable information and skills from the highly knowledgeable Andreas, plus plenty of laughs and stunning scenery thrown in. What’s not to like!

1st March 2022

Sam M

Solo Traveller

Fantastic course run by an amazing guide. Andreas taught us all the skills required to tackle the mountains in winter. From navigation, using crampons/ice axe, to building a snow hole. Andreas was friendly and welcoming and i highly recommend booking a course with him.

28th February 2022

emmanuelvaz

Couple Traveller

Best winter mountaineering course. I definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in learning basic leaning skills in mountaineering. Andreas is really knowledgeable.

8th April 2019
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