Winter Skills - Advanced
Our Advanced Winter Skills course develops your winter walking skills to the highest level over 5 days of training.
We'll re-cap your core winter walking skills and develop these so you can use them confidently in the toughest of conditions. We cover advanced techniques for ice axe and crampon work; winter navigation and snowpack analysis; and we'll introduce basic winter mountaineering ropework skills and equipment for safeguarding movement on steeper terrain.
We'll meet and look over personal equipment, weather and avalanche forecasts, before planning and preparing for a mountain journey. Once in the mountains your personal movement skills - kicking/cutting steps, cramponing, ice axe skills including self arrests - will be refreshed. As we journey we will practise our winter navigation and remind ourselves about the snowpack and its stability; key observations; and how we manage to safely avoid avalanche danger.
This starts with practising our movement skills on steeper terrain. We'll look at safe and efficient movement; transitions between techniques; route choice (both ascending and descending) on snow, ice and rocky terrain. As we move in the mountains we'll continue to make observations about the avalanche hazard and snowpack stability, as well as practising navigation.
After an hour or so of navigation theory we'll head for the hills and cover the advanced techniques required for poor visibility and navigating in darkness. This will include walking on a bearing where there are minimal features; timing and pacing accurately; and identifying/locating subtle features. We will also isolate blocks in the snowpack to analyse their structure, test their stability, and relate this information to an avalanche forecast.
We'll start by introducing ropes, equipment and mountaineering techniques, then move onto steeper snow and rocky ground and look at how we can safeguard movement in both ascent and descent. Basic mountaineering skills will open up a lot of mountain terrain during winter and give you the confidence to be more adventurous when planning a day out.
We'll put everything together and enjoy a mountain day. As the course progresses you'll take more responsibility for decision making and planning. On this day your guide will be alongside to give advice and coaching, but hopefully only a little input is required. Day 5 is also an opportunity to revisit anything covered earlier in the course to ensure you finish satisfied with your advanced winter skills.
Throughout the course you'll learn how to manage in harsh conditions and what to do if something goes wrong. We'll also consider snow-holing and what you need to do to spend an evening out in the mountains (although there won't be an overnight stay included in the course).
- Develop excellent crampon, ice axe and personal movement skills
- Practice advanced winter navigation techniques in challenging conditions
- Have an indepth understanding of the snowpack, avalanche forecasts and avalanche hazards
- Lots of opportunities to improve your personal administration
- Mountaineering techniques, including ropework
- Understanding the winter environment better
- Excellent and knowledgable guides
- Small group sizes
Ice axe, crampon and helmet hire are included in the course fee. If you need to rent winter boots, Cairngorm Mountain Sports are an excellent choice and can be reached on +441479 810903.
Being comfortable and protected from the elements is all about having the right equipment. Our recommended equipment list can be viewed here.
We use the Aviemore youth hostel as our base during winter. This is also a great place to stay, but here are some alternative local accommodation options.
This course is suitable for those who've previously attended a winter skills course. We run 5 day and 2 day winter skills courses as a precursor to this course.
Please get in touch if you have any questions.
Level > Moderate