01690 720214

James Brownhill Memorial Fund (Scottish Winter Mountaineering)

Course Overview

Scottish winter mountaineering for full-time students aged 18 or over.
Many great mountaineers have learnt, and honed, their skills in the winter mountains of Scotland. To tackle the more challenging peaks of Glencoe and Lochaber in winter requires a full array of mountaineering skills
These five days offer the same winter essentials as our 'Scottish Winter Mountaineering' course - whilst sharing the experience with like minded people of a similar age. Getting to grips with ice axe and crampons, you will develop your winter skills on steeper snow and winter scrambling terrain. Along the way you will cover winter navigation, and avalanche evaluation; alongside the emergency procedures of building a snow shelter and basic ropework for steep ground. All this will be covered practically on five awesome days out, whilst enjoying ascents of many of the finest summits in the Western Highlands

Eight places will be available to full-time students aged 18 or over
Download an application form here

Previous Experience Required

No previous winter experience is required, but you should be fit summer hill walkers and realise that winter days in the western highlands often involve ascents from near sea level to 1000m.

Cost from £310

Please e-mail your application at

Scheduled Dates

Detailed Course Notes

This fund was set up by James' family following his death on 1st July 2011, on the Frendo Spur in Chamonix, France. James was an avid climber and mountaineer. His love for climbing led him to develop skills in every climbing style but it was in Alpine and Traditional climbing where he sought to improve most. His consistent passion for climbing led to involvement with his university club, an opportunity to share enthusiasm, skills and knowledge with like minded individuals.

The fund aims to encourage and foster a higher level of safety, good practice and sustainability within university climbing clubs. The fund will award volunteer leaders within the clubs with bursaries to undertake courses to consolidate and develop safe climbing practice for teaching new and inexperienced climbers in individual and group situations.
Each year bursaries will be awarded to part fund training courses run by Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre. Courses attracting bursaries include Mountain Leader Award, Single Pitch Award, Climbing wall award. To apply for a for bursary download an application form using the link below

The Scottish mountains in winter are undoubtedly magnificent, but are a serious undertaking. Short daylight hours, poor conditions underfoot, strong winds, rain and snow may all need to be dealt with. This subsidised course aims to introduce the skills and judgement needed to become a safe and competent winter mountaineer.

Is it for me?

This course is aimed at young, keen mountain walkers who would like to be able to undertake challenging winter walks and simple climbs. Each year eight places are available in Scotland.

If you would like to be considered for this bursary, please complete an application form and send it to info@pyb.co.uk.

Eight places will be available to full-time students aged 18 or over
Download an application form here

No previous winter experience is required, but you should be fit summer hill walkers and realise that winter days in the western highlands often involve ascents from near sea level to 1000m.

Course Content

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:

  • Ice axe and crampon work

  • Ice axe arrest

  • Winter navigation

  • Avalanche risk assessment

  • Emergency snowshelters/survival

  • Elementary ropework

  • Terrain - ridges, rocky steps, cornices, steep snow (possibly Grade 1)

  • Mountaineering decision making

These areas will be incorporated into mountain journeys, hopefully taking in some of the major peaks.

We make full use of the evenings by offering a number of technical lectures which re-enforce and expand upon the daytime activities. These may include:

  • Avalanche risk assessment

  • Cold injuries and hypothermia

  • Winter mountain navigation

Please e-mail your application at

What's Included In The Price?

    Accommodation the night before your course
    Accommodation during your course
    Accommodation the night after your course
    Breakfast & evening meal
    Bar Lunch/packed lunch
    Afternoon tea & homemade cakes
    Equipment hire
    Snow safety equipment hire
    Free wifi access
    In course transport
    Parking with CCTV surveillance
    Free use of swimming pool and spa

Accommodation For This Course / Holiday


Your accommodation for this course is in comfy en-suite rooms (normally shared) at Alltshellach, a fantastic hotel owned and run by HF Holidays. Each room has tea and coffee making facilities and all bed linen and towels are provided. There is also a WiFi Lounge and swimming pool.

Your course fee includes accommodation the night before your course begins and the night after the course finishes.

All your meals are included - breakfast, packed lunch, afternoon tea and freshly baked cakes and a three course evening meal, starting with dinner on the night you arrive and finishing with breakfast on the day you leave.

If you wish to upgrade to a single occupancy room please contact the Plas y Brenin bookings team on 01690 720214 or bookings@pyb.co.uk.

HF Holidays are happy to extend your stay prior to your course or for additional nights after, to arrange this please contact then on 0208 732 1264 or agnieszkaserek@hfholidays.co.uk.

Arrival and Departure

Please arrive at Alltshellach the evening before the start date of the course, for dinner at 7.15pm. An evening meal is provided on the night of arrival, but cannot be saved for people arriving later than 7.15pm, unless booked in advance (you can do this on your equipment loan form).

Departure is the morning after your course finishes with breakfast the following morning is also included. Check out is at 10am.

Please remember that winter in Scotland can mean snow and ice on roads and rail causing bad or impossible travel conditions; therefore, please allow plenty of time for your journey.

Plas y Brenin cannot be held responsible for adverse weather conditions and in this respect we cannot offer refunds or transfers of course fees. If you are late in arriving for a course we will do our best to help you make up for lost time! Please try to contact Plas y Brenin if you are delayed on route.

To contact a member of staff, please call Plas y Brenin main centre on 01690 720214.

The address of PyB in Scotland is Alltshellach, Onich, Fort William, Inverness-shire PH33 6SA.
If you are delayed please contact HF Holidays on 01855 821357 and let reception know.

Download travel information here

By Car
From the South, you can travel by car along the A82, through Glencoe and over the Ballachulish Bridge towards Fort William. When you reach Ballachlish Bridge, ake the second road on the right after crossing the bridge, signposted B863 Kinlochleven. Alltshellach is a short distance along on the right (approx. 400 yards).

By Train
You could also travel by train. Most trains leaving from London Euston will take you direct to Glasgow Central Station. A short walk will take you to Glasgow Queen Street Station, from where trains leave to Fort William. Fort William is 13 miles from Alltshellach. You can take the overnight sleeper from London Euston direct to Fort William.

Scottish Citylink Buses (tel: 0871 266 33 33 or www.citylink.co.uk) depart from Fort William High Street fairly regularly. Or take a taxi (approx. £15 with Blue Bird Taxis tel 01397 703000). Scottish Citylink also have a service from Buchanan Bus Station, Glasgow (close to Glasgow Queen Street Station). Both will stop just past Ballachulish Bridge, just ask the driver when you get on.

The Plas y Brenin minibus will meet the Scottish Citylink Bus which leaves Glasgow at 6pm and arrives at approximately 8.34pm each evening, please let us know if you arriving on this bus by ticking the box on your equipment loan form. Details of how to reach Alltshellach from the main road are above.

By Bus
The final option is to travel by coach. National Express (tel 0871 781 8181 or www.nationalexpress.com) offer an extensive service throughout the country. Take a coach to Buchanan Bus Station, Glasgow. For onwards journey details from Glasgow, please see above.

By Plane
It is also possible to fly into Glasgow from major UK airports, and continue your journey across country from there.

If you are delayed please contact HF Holidays on 01855 821357 and let reception know. If you need to contact a member of Plas y Brenin staff, please call Plas y Brenin main centre on 01690 720214.

follow this link for more details

Please e-mail your application at

What Equipment Do You Need To Bring?


• Ice axe* - 55-60cm long. This should be a walking/mountaineering axe rather than a light weight ski touring one or a technical climbing axe. Such as theDMM cirque.

• Boots* - Good quality leather boots with a stiff sole - B2 or B3 rated. See boot advice below, the Scarpa Manta Pro Gtx would be a good example.

• Crampons* - 12 point mountaineering crampons that have anti-balling plates on and are compatible with your boots. See crampon advice below. The Grivel G12 is a good example.

• Gaiters - Extremely useful to prevent snow and scree entering your boots and help to keep your feet warm. For example the Mountain Equipment Trail DLE gaiter.

• Crampon Bag - A tough Nylon bag to protect the contents of your rucksack from the sharp points.

• Climbing Helmet* - A CE rated climbing helmet that is large enough to fit over a hat, such as the DMM Ascent.

• Snow/Ski Goggles - An essential item for days out in the Scottish winter environment. A budget pair with two layer lenses will be fine.

• Rucksack* - There is generally a lot more that needs to be carried on a day out in the mountains in winter compared with summer. A 35 to 45 Litre rucksack is fine such as the Deuter Guide 35+.

• Rucksack Liner - Almost no rucksacks are waterproof, so a waterproof liner is needed to keep your kit dry. Either a large dry bag or several small ones works well or a strong plastic bag such as a rubble bag (not a bin bag).

• Flask/water bottle - A small flask (1/2 to 3/4 litre) and a similar sized water bottle. Hydration systems with tubes rarely function well in winter.

• Map - Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 map Sheet 41 of the Glencoe and Ben Nevis area. Ideally laminated or in a small map case.

• Compass* - Silva Expedition Type 4, in degrees.

• Waterproof case for your mobile phone - A method of protecting your mobile phone from the elements is essential.

• Whistle - A cheap plastic whistle is a useful item of emergency equipment.

• Head Torch - An extremely useful item of emergency equipment. A Petzl Tikka + or similar would be fine.

• Survival Bag - An orange plastic survival bag is an important item of emergency equipment.

• Personal First Aid - A small first aid kit in a waterproof bag to include Compeed or similar for blisters, a wound dressing, a triangular bandage and pain relief eg. Ibuprofen or paracetamol

• Emergency Food - Some spare items of high energy food that are sealed in a bag eg. Chocolate or muesli bars.

• Sun block and Lip Salve - To provide protection from UV radiation and the wind.

• Trekking Poles - Useful for walking below the snow line and for low angle snow slopes. Should be collapsible into 3 or 4 sections to make stowage inside your rucksack easier.

• Camera - Of your choice - the smaller and lighter the better.


• Waterproof Jacket* - A robust breathable and waterproof jacket that fits over several layers. It should have a permanently attached hood that is large enough to go over a helmet.

• Waterproof Trousers* or Salopettes - A robust pair of breathable and waterproof over trousers, ideally long side zips (to aid putting on whilst wearing crampons) and braces.

• Insulated Jacket - A large warm jacket to wear whilst stationary is useful. It should be insulated with a synthetic material rather than down, which does not perform well in damp conditions.

• Base Layers - A couple of lightweight 'thermal' tops, short or long sleeved. Should be of a synthetic material and not cotton.

• Mid Layers - A couple of mid weight layers, ideally fleece, gives more flexibility for managing your temperature rather than one thick one.

• Trousers - Fleece trousers or power stretch tights work very well under waterproof trousers.

• Hat - A fleece or wool hat that is suitable to be worn under a helmet - no bobbles! A neck gaiter is useful.

• Waterproof Gloves - At least two pairs are essential. They should be dexterous enough that you can put crampons on whilst wearing them. The Mountain Equipment Guide or similar is recommended.

• Thin gloves - A thin fleece pair is useful for wearing whilst approaching the hills. For example the Mountain Equipment Touch Screen Glove.

• Socks - Several pairs of loop stitch style socks

• Personal clothing and effects for life in the hotel including swimwear for the pool.

*Indicates available to borrow free of charge from our kit store.

If you would like to borrow waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, helmet, winter boots or crampons please complete our equipment loan form available here and return to Plas y Brenin. For all other items marked with a * we don't need to know in advance, just ask your instructor when you get there.

If you would like to request a pick up from the 8.30pm Scottish Citylink Bus at approx. 8.30pm and/or would like a late dinner if you arriving after 7.15pm you can request this on the equipment loan form.

Advice on Mountaineering Boots and Crampons for Scotland in the winter

Boot advice

Boots for winter walking and mountaineering in Scotland should be warm enough for the coldest days (Minus 10 Celsius) and sufficiently waterproof to stay dry whilst walking through the wettest bogs. They also need to be rigid enough to kick steps in firm snow and to take a crampon; so rated either B2 or B3.
Most people, including our instructors, opt for good quality leather or a leather / Gore-Tex combination. Plastic boots are warmer but may be more cumbersome, and the warmth offered by high altitude boots is simply not necessary.

Larger sized boots will flex more than smaller sizes so if you have large feet, then definitely go for a more rigid boot. You will be less likely to slip out of your crampons. Our General advice is to buy a quality boot that fits your foot well; it is well worth the extra expense. Be prepared to spend some time ensuring the size and fit is correct. A quality boot will last many years and can be used all year round; most types allow the soles to be replaced. It is important to wear your boots in and it can be advisable to initially place tape on your heels and any 'hot spots'. Spend time walking around locally, even around the house, before attempting anything more adventurous. Most staff wear either one thick sock or a thin and thick combination. Buy good quality socks, and bring several pairs. For most winter mountaineering courses, our staff use footwear from the excellent range by Scarpa.

Crampon advice

Match your boot with your crampon both in crampon/boot shape and fit, as well as crampon/boot stiffness. Take your boot with you when you buy your crampons and fit them to the boot in the shop to ensure a good fit. With leather boots avoid a crampon that uses a wire bale at the front, but opt for a 'French style' plastic bale. Most good makes now offer a cradle and strap system, which is ideal, and helps avoid cold fingers! Buy a 10 to 12-point crampon with a general mountaineering configuration with anti-balling plates. Technical ice climbing crampons are difficult to walk in; the front points protrude excessively and are more likely to catch. Lightweight alloy touring crampons are not up to the harsh conditions of Scotland! With small feet (size 6 or under), certain types of crampon are best avoided - get crampons fitted by the shop.

Please e-mail your application at