High Mountain Guides / What we do / UK Mountaineering & Climbing / Scottish Winter Climbing

Scottish Winter Climbing

Alan enjoying some superb ice climbing on the North Face of Ben Nevis, ('Winter Cascade', IV).

Scotland's winter mountains are rightly world famous for the quality of their winter climbing. When the Highlands are incased in snow, hoar frost and ice they are a wild and enchanting place, and that's before the equally famous weather adds to the mix. They say Scottish climbing is good training for the Himalayas but stuck in a blizzard high on the North Face of Ben Nevis you could be forgiven for thinking it was the other way round!

We run bespoke winter climbing courses ranging from introduction for complete beginners to high level guiding.

If you have a basic level of rock climbing and, ideally, some winter mountaineering experience we can help you make the difficult transition to winter climbing. Check out our Introduction to Winter Climbing course.

Our company ethos means we will try and provide you with positive and educational experiences whilst ensuring we pass on the wisdom of our own hard won experience.


If you already have some experience of Scottish Winter Climbing why not take this further with ascents of some of the classic winter climbs of the Highlands. Great experiences in the company of our friendly and professional Guides. Check out our Guided Winter Climbs course.

Course Ratios

With low ratios we are able to move at exactly your pace and progress through your own climbing apprenticeship at the rate most appropriate for you. In this way you will never feel held back by a less fit and able group member or alternatively never feel pressured into doing something that has your eyes on stalks! Similarly the venues chosen can revolve around your past experience, future aspirations and what 3 star routes you want to tick!


From our usual winter base in Fort William we are able to reach a wide variety of venues from Ben Udlaidh in the Southern Highlands to Glen Coe, Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor in Lochaber. We can also travel east to Creag Meagaidh and the Northern Cairngorms. That’s a lot of variety in a week’s climbing.

Many of the classic Scottish ice climbs are highly conditions dependent. Come with your tick list by all means but try and have an open mind to alternatives. Big ice routes are notoriously fickle both in terms of the quantity and quality of ice build-up and the invariably steep snowy approach and exit, which can be exposed to avalanche. Decisions as to whether they are safe on any given day of the winter can be tricky….better to hire a Highland Guide!

Don’t be disappointed if a safer alternative objective is offered. Snowed up rock buttresses, or mixed climbing can provide a superbly rewarding winter climbing experience and are often more likely to be both in condition and safe. Personally, Scottish winter mixed climbing is one of my favourite aspects of the wide spectrum of mountaineering we do – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! (But your nice new axes and crampons may need sharpening afterwards!)

Further Information

Scottish Winter

Scottish Winter Mountaineering & Climbing Reports & Photos

Scottish Winter Mountaineering

Kit List for Winter Mountaineering & Climbing


Andy Turner Leading "The Secret"

The first ascent of the hardest winter route in the UK led in on-sight style

Ben Nevis Ice Climb

Doug climbing Good Friday Climb, Ben Nevis 11/2/08

Fingers Ridge

A Winter ascent of the Cairngorms classic, 'Fingers Ridge' IV,4

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Training Articles

Alpine Training - A Students Perspective

Already a competent UK based rock climber, Matt came out to Chamonix for 6 days of alpine training, three in in spring and three in early summer. Here, he shares his detailed analysis of each days training outcomes. This analytical approach to mountain training pays rapid and impressive dividends in terms of increased efficiency and skill in the mountains. These are Matt's personal notes which he is kindly sharing for all on-line. Hopefully some of these tips will be of use (not sure about the eggs and lentils for breakfast though Matt!!) they are not however a substitute for undertaking your own mountain training course with a qualified Guide and serving your own progressive apprenticeship as an alpinist. We hope to help you with this.

Avalanche Training Notes

In the ever evolving world of snow science & avalanche theory the pragmatic skier & mountaineer needs to identify the salient points & make pragmatic decisions accordingly. This is easier said than done and deciding which elements of avalanche theory dictate decision making in the mountains takes skill, experience & judgement. Models for forecasting hazard and local avalanche bulletins are helpful yet far from definitive therefore the skill required by skiers & climbers is actually 'managing uncertainty'. This page is an evolving collection of notes from various avalanche training sources & will hopefully provide a useful communal resource of practical information that we hope you can both use & contribute further too.

Ski Fit? Preparing for the Slopes

What makes skiing so much fun is that it can only be enjoyed at certain times of the year, however, as many have experienced, skiing reminds us that we have muscles that we had no idea existed. Most skiers only ski a few times a year which is not sufficient frequency to keep our bodies conditioned for it. Preparing ahead for a ski holiday can make the difference between an incredible pleasurable experience versus a painful one. If you would rather not spend your week’s holiday manoeuvring the resort on crutches it is important to prepare your body for the rigour of skiing, no matter how competent a skier one is. All skiers want to ski all day long but without preparing your body for the physical demands of the sport you will be at risk of injury; when a skier is tired accidents are more likely to occur.


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