Scottish Winter Mountaineering

You’re a dedicated hillwalker who wants to take things up a level and become a true ‘mountaineer’, tackling the more challenging peaks of Glencoe and Lochaber in winter. You’ll need the full array of mountaineering skills that this course is designed to deliver.


5 Days

Instructor Ratio4:1




5 Days

Instructor Ratio


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Our top-class instructors will combine practical instruction with ascents of many of the finest summits in the Western Highlands to develop your winter skills on steeper snow and winter scrambling terrain. You’ll cover winter navigation, and avalanche evaluation alongside the emergency procedures of building a snow shelter and basic ropework for steep ground. You’ll get masses of practical experience during the day, and we’ll share our expert technical knowledge with you through a series of evening lectures to reinforce what you’ve learned out on the mountains. This course will be delivered from our scenic winter base in Scotland, the Alltshellach hotel in North Ballachulish.

The Objectives 

  •  You’ll make the transition from winter hillwalker to mountaineer.
  • You’ll learn practically on five days out in the spectacular Scottish mountains, in combination with evening theory sessions.
  • You’ll cover all of the main skills you’ll need to gain masses of confidence in your personal mountaineering ability.

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What to Expect

This course will take you progressively through the skills of winter mountaineering. Venues and day to day activities are weather and snow-dependent and decisions regarding the exact day’s programme will be decided by the course director each morning. The whole group will meet for a briefing, allowing you to share the decision making process with experienced instructors.

We will aim to cover the following topics;

  • Use of ice axe and crampons
  • Ice axe arrest
  • Winter navigation
  • Avalanche risk assessment and avoidance
  • Emergency snow shelters/survival
  • Elementary ropework and snow belays
  • Terrain – ridges, rocky steps, cornices, steep snow (Grade 1)
  • Mountaineering decision making
  • These areas will be incorporated into mountain journeys, hopefully taking in some of the major peaks.

Experience Required

Ideally you’ll have completed our Scottish Winter Hillwalking course. Experience with axe and crampons would be very useful on this course. A good level of summer hill walking fitness is essential. You should be fit enough to undertake five consecutive days out in the mountains each with an approximate height gain of 1000m whilst carrying a rucksack weighing about 8-10Kg. This will help you to get the most out of the week and allow you to cope with what at times, can be challenging conditions. The days can be long and demanding but as with all our winter courses enthusiasm and determination are the key.

How Should I Prepare?

You should have a high level of hillwalking fitness with the ability to spend 6-8 hours walking on steep paths and on broken terrain. The days will often include 800-1000m of ascent and descent. You will also need to carry a rucksack with your spare clothing, lunch and equipment in – this could have an approximate weight of 6-9kgs. This level of fitness will be obtained through regular summer hillwalking and 2-3 exercise sessions per week. This could include running, cycling, walking or playing sport, these should feel challenging and tiring sessions. Some upper body strength will be beneficial but the main focus should be on leg fitness and stamina.

Download kit list here.

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Why Plas y Brenin?

Plas y Brenin is at the forefront of outdoor instruction. Whether you are starting a career in the outdoors, or just want to take an adventure holiday, PYB is the place for you.

We inspire explorers. We train trainers. We’re internationally recognised. We’ve been around since 1798, with our earliest guests including Queen Victoria. Since then, we’ve focussed on providing the best customer experience, working alongside some of the greatest, 007 included.

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You’ll receive expert supervision from fully qualified and psyched instructors, creating the perfect environment to learn and enjoy something new!

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Your experience will take place in the heart of the extraordinary Eryri National Park. Our National Outdoor Centre features accommodation, a bar, dining, and more. And while you’re here, why not check out some local gems?

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Everyone at Plas y Brenin, from staff to visitors, is excited about adventures and inspired to get outside. Our guests return year after year to experience all that North Wales offers.