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Winter Skills Course

(16 Reviews)
2 Day Course £155
5 Day Course £370
From£155
2 Day Course £155
5 Day Course £370
From£155
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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?

Do not hesitage to contact us. We are happy to help you.

01463 216123

mail@unexplored.scot

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

The winter mountains in Scotland provide some of the most demanding and rewarding mountaineering conditions in the UK. 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 west coast near Fort William. 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.

The Fort William area is ideal for winter courses in the Highlands. In recent years the Cairngorms had lean winter conditions with little snow while the Lochaber area had a lot more. It is also easier to travel to Creag Meagaidh and the Cairngorms if the conditions happen to be better there.

Just select the date and then the 2 or 5 day package at 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

Can’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

The 2 day winter skills course in Scotland will be in the west coast hills near Fort William 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. In order 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 offer a course worth every penny. The 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 Fort William and drive to the hills after an introduction. The main locations we use for the winter mountaineering course are near Ben Nevis where fewer groups tend to be. However, when the weather blocks us from getting to the area we drive to Cairngorm area, which is also suitable for any winter skills course. 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 it. In our winter skills courses we offer the free use of ice axe, crampon, helmet, 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 Mountaineering 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 s snowhole. You will build a snowhole from scratch in a remote area and then 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 safe.

Location

Fort William

Start Time

8:30am

Price Includes

  • Ice Axe
  • C2 Grivel Crampons
  • Climbing Helmet
  • 35-45L Mountaineering Rucksack
  • Ski Goggles
  • Snow Shovel
  • Silva Compass
  • 1:50,000 Map
  • Safety Equipment

Additional Kit for 5 Day Course

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

Price Excludes

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

Complementaries

  • Lift to the hills from Fort William
  • Warm HatTo fit under climbing helmet
  • Balaclava
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.

tripadvisor

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

Day 1Intro to Winter Skills

Meet up in Fort William 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 Fort William 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 clothing (Jacket and trousers)
  • Suitable warm clothing for walking (no jeans)
  • Warm tops
  • Packed lunch
  • Hot flask
  • Spare clothing
  • Sun cream
  • Warm Hat
  • Balaclava
  • Sunglasses
  • Several wind and waterproof gloves (ideally 3 pairs)
  • Water
  • 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)

Note about crampons and boots: At Unexplored Scotland we only provide C2 crampons or higher, 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 Fort William or somewhere on the way. I would always advise to call them to book the boots before the course.
Nevisport 01397 704921 – £10 per day
Ellis Brigham 01397 706220 – £23 for 2 days, £42 for 5 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

16 Reviews
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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

Andrew M

Couple Traveller

Myself and my girlfriend had an amazing time on the hills with Andreas. We learned valuable skills that will stand us in good stead for our future adventures. We learned the proper use of ice axes, ice axe arrests, using crampons, navigation and avalanche awareness to name a few. Highly recommended.

19th March 2019

CazB63

Solo Traveller

Fantastic course, Andrea’s course was well organised, fun, practical based as well as being informative. Really good to gain a basic knowledge of using an ice axe, doing ice arrests, crampons and general winter mountaineering skills. Might even be interested in the 5 day course sometime in the future!

15th March 2019

Louise H

Family Traveller

Fantastic weekend of developing skills and knowledge that will last a lifetime. Very well organised, in depth and most importantly fun. Extremely well run small group course, Andreas really knew his stuff and was an excellent role model. Would highly recommend.

24th February 2019

MattBlenkinsop

Solo Traveller

An excellent course that gave a good grounding in using an ice axe and crampons along with general winter mountaineering skills. Andreas is a very knowledgeable and experienced instructor which, coupled with the well structured and delivered course, made for a great weekend away. Would highly recommend to anyone looking to learn these sorts of skills.

21st February 2019
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