Which winter course is right for me?

28th September 2023

Unleash the Magic of Scotland's Winter Wilderness: Winter Skills vs. Winter Mountaineering Courses

Scotland's winter landscapes are a playground for adventurers, but when the snow blankets the terrain and ice glistens on rocky outcrops, it's a different kind of thrill that calls for specialized knowledge and skills. Enter winter skills courses and winter mountaineering courses — your passport to mastering this exhilarating season. In this guide, we unveil the vital distinctions between these two paths, helping you choose the perfect course for your winter odyssey in Scotland.

Choosing the Right Course: Demystifying the Options

Navigating the landscape of winter courses can be bewildering. Terms like winter walking, winter skills, mountaineering, scrambling, and winter climbing abound. At Cairngorm Adventure Guides, we've crafted our own interpretation of these courses, breaking down what each entails.

In essence, you can categorize these winter activities based on how many ice axes you wield and what you do with them!

Winter Skills (2 and 5-Day Options)

Imagine walking through snowy and icy terrain, no ropes, harnesses, or climbing gear in sight. You carry a single ice axe with the handle pointing down, much like a trusty walking stick. This ice axe is your ally, offering security on the snow, enabling you to cut steps into its powdery surface, and ready to arrest your slide should the need arise. Crampons are essential, especially on hard and icy terrain. Winter skills courses take place on less steep, lower-risk terrain, where no one's safety is compromised even if footing is lost or a slip occurs. With a 1:6 instructor-to-participant ratio, safety is paramount.

Winter Mountaineering and Climbing (2 and 5-Day Options)

Now, shift gears to our mountaineering and climbing courses, a world apart. Here, it's a 2:1 instructor-to-participant ratio, where safety is achieved through harnesses and ropes. This setup empowers you to venture into steeper, more exhilarating terrain, including graded climbs. You may wield one or two ice axes, but as the slopes steepen, you'll hold them high, like a hammer swung above your head. These courses unlock the technical aspects of placing gear, constructing belays, and mastering ropework to ensure your climbing partner's safety.

Intro to Winter Mountaineering Skills (2 Days)

For those who've cut their teeth on winter skills and yearn to delve deeper, the Intro to Winter Mountaineering Skills course beckons. It's a 1:4 ratio, so you'll need to be comfortable maneuvering on steep snow with crampons and an ice axe. While you won't be roped up for safety, you'll explore crucial skills like building belays, mastering ropework, navigating steep terrain, anchoring in snow, and honing the expertise required for ascending steeper routes.

In Scotland's winter wonderland, adventure awaits at every turn. Whether you opt for the foundational winter skills, the exhilarating mountaineering and climbing courses, or the progression-focused Intro to Winter Mountaineering Skills, you're embarking on a journey to unlock the magic of Scotland's winter wilderness. Winter is calling — are you ready to answer it?

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Winter 2023

Check out our great range of winter skills, ski touring and winter climbing courses.

Winter courses

This company were great. Dave took us out on the hills for 5 days and gave us a bespoke course on winter walking / climbing. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun. He was an excellent teacher a really nice bloke and was incredibly patient with us all. Also, when we were planning the trip Liam was really great. We wanted help preparing ourselves for a specific goal and he was super helpful in explaining to us exactly what we needed to know/learn. It turns out we were being massively ambitious! But instead of just taking our money and sending us on our way Liam went out of his way to tailor a course to our needs. I can't recommend CAG enough.

Rich, Jan 2020
Hostelling Scotland

10% Discount

from Hostelling Scotland Aviemore when booking with Cairngorm Adventure Guides.