01690 720214

Scottish Classic Winter Climbs

Course Overview


Climb with the most experienced Guides and Instructors in Scotland. This superlative Winter Climbing experience aims to help you get the best from five days in Scotland. Our high staff to student ratio gives you a tailormade week of action to help you fulfil your winter climbing potential and move up the grades.

Experience Required

Experience of winter climbing on routes of grade II or above.

Scheduled Dates

Detailed Course Notes

You should be 18 years old to attend this course.

Is it for me?

If you have attended our Scottish Introduction to Winter Climbing course or gained similar experience the this is the next step for you. A high level of fitness will allow you to make the most of this week.

Fitness requirements

You should have a high level of winter mountaineering fitness with the ability to spend 6-8hrs moving over steep, 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 8-10kgs. 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 be challenging and tiring sessions. Some upper body strength will be beneficial and training in this area, such as weight sessions in the gym, should be included in your preparation. Time spent rock climbing either outside or at an indoor climbing wall will also be valuable.

Course Content

The aim of this week is to put your previous experience and enthusiasm to good use. We hope to develop your skills by sharing our passion for winter climbing as we find our way up the big routes. Climbing some of the longer classics will require a need for speedy and efficient climbing, and you are bound to pick up plenty of top tips along the way. The intention is to climb routes of grade III to IV and to experience both ice and mixed terrain.

The 1:2 ratio throughout the course will make all this possible for you at your level.

Examples of some routes climbed on this course include:

Twisting Gully (III), SC Gully (III), Raeburns Route (IV), Stob Coire nan Lochan, Glencoe

Crowberry Gully (IV), North Buttress (III/IV, Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe

Deep Cut Chimney (IV), Central Gully (IV), Stob Coire nam Beith, Glencoe

Taxus (III), West Buttress (III), Beinn an Dothaidh

Sunshine Gully (III), Quartvein Scoop (IV), Beinn Udlaidh

Left Twin (III), Morwind (III), Aonach Mor

Comb Gully (IV), Green Gully (IV), Number Three Gully Buttress (III), Tower Ridge (IV), Ben Nevis

Useful Books


  • Winter Skills by Fyffe and Cunningham - The official handbook of Mountain Training it covers all the essential information and techniques for climbers & walkers.
  • Navigation in the Mountains by Carlo Forte - The official navigation book of Mountain training covers all aspects of mountain navigation.
  • A Chance in a Million? Scottish Avalanches by Barton and Wright - A useful and understandable explanation of avalanches in Scotland.
  • Snow sense by Fredstan and Fesler - An easily accessible guide to snowpack and avalanches.
  • Scotland's Winter Mountains by Martin Moran - Lots of great background information on the skills of winter walking and climbing.


  • Ben Nevis, Britain's Highest Mountain by Crocket and Richardson - The definitive book on the history of climbing and mountaineering on 'the Ben'.
  • Hostile Habitats - Scotland's Mountain Environment edited by Wrightham and Kemp - A comprehensive guide to Scotland's flora. Fauna and landscape.
  • Mountaineering in Scotland by W H Murray - An inspirational history of early mountaineering in Scotland.
  • 100 Best Routes on Scottish Mountains by Ralph Storer - Classic walking and mountaineering routes of all grades.
  • The Munros edited by Bennet and Anderson - An essential guide to the Munros of Scotland.
  • The Corbetts and other Scottish Hills edited by Milne and Brown - An essential guide to hills that don't have Munro status.
  • Scottish Winter Climbs - SMC - A generic winter climbing guide with routes of all grades.

What's Included In The Price?

Whether you choose to stay with us or you have alternative accommodation nearby, the following items are included in the total cost.

    Afternoon tea & homemade cakes
    Equipment hire
    Snow safety equipment hire
    Free (low-speed) wifi access in the bar & dining room
    In course transport
    Parking with CCTV surveillance
    Free use of swimming pool

    If you choose to stay with us, these items are also included in the total cost:

    Accommodation the night before your course
    Accommodation during your course
    Accommodation the night after your course ends
    Breakfast & evening meal
    Bar Lunch/packed lunch

Accommodation For This Course


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

What Equipment Do You Need To Bring?


• A pair of technical Ice axes* - These would generally be 50cm long with a pair having one with an adze on and one with a hammer on. They should have dropped pick and include leashes or a lanyard. Many types of axes are available the DMM fly is a good example of an axe for easier grades and the DMM Apex is a good example of an axe suitable for higher grades.

• Boots* - Good quality stiff boots that are rated B3 and have a Vibram sole. A good example is the Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro Gtx.

• Crampons* - 12 point crampons that have anti-balling plates on. They should have clip- in rear bindings that are compatible with your boots. Good examples are Grivel G12 and G14s.

• 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.

• Harness* - A sit harness with adjustable leg loops that is large enough to go over all your layers including waterproofs. A good example is the DMM Mithril.

• Climbing Rack* - Bring along any hardwear that you already own. A belay device, 3 screwgates and a 120cm sling are particularly useful.

• 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.

Customer Reviews For This Course

If you are a fan of

Mike Purse

I did my research carefully before deciding to choose this PYB course and I wasn't disappointed in my choice! We had a fantastic weeks climbing helped by the alpine-like conditions! I cannot praise our instructor Dave highly enough. His confidence and professionalism inspired me to climb routes that beforehand I had only dreamed of! This was probably my tenth week in Scotland over the past two decades and by far the most memorable and the best. It was an intensive week with the focus well and truly on getting routes done. We had a steady progression starting on Grade III classics in Glencoe and eventually finishing on Grade V classics on the Ben. In answer to the question - would I choose this course again? Absolutely!
In summary, this course does exactly what it says on the tin!

Great experience with a great instructor

Peter H

I would recommend this course. Five days of great climbing in Glencoe, The Ben and Coire an t-Sneachda in the Cairngorms. The weather was typically Scottish with snow rain, strong winds but also a good crisp but windy day on Cairngorm (Haston Line Grade III). Dave my instructor was patient, extremely helpful and considerate, and very good company on the hill. I felt safe and confident with his decision making in foul weather on the Ben (climbing Moonlight Butress with powder avalanches in the gully beside us!). A morning at the Ice Factor on the dry tooling wall improving technique was exhausting but rewarding. Dave helped do routes and techniques I didn't think I was capable of doing. I am converted to leashless axes. I'm now feel confident to look at climbing grade IV and V routes. I can confirm that PYB has the best instructors and would thoroughly recommend a winter course with the team.

A great week of climbing classic routes


This was a fantastic week of climbing. Having previously done an introductory course to winter climbing, this course followed on really well. The routes we selected throughout the week were always at the right level and allowed for progression and improvement in skills, but the focus was always on getting out climbing.

The week started on Green Gully grade III and ended on Hadrian's Wall grade V 5, and we were able to get out climbing every day. The knowledge and professionalism of all the instructors at PYB is excellent. I highly recommend this course for people who either want to get out climbing, or to improve on skills you already have with experienced instructors.

A big thanks to Matt for a great week.

Fabulous Fanstastic F**king Lets Have it!

Katie Gibson

Guys and Galls,
Well as a gall myself, I applaud the organisation of this course providers. I enrolled in this course with barely a week to go. What a priveldge to be involved in such an incredible venture to bring Mountain Equipment and Plas y Brenin together with the shop staff of nationwide, If i may say my experience in this Scottish winter skills course has been challenging, renewing, awe inspiring & most definitely wholesome. I have experienced a great adventure, the best day so far of the winter. I truely thank the staff of Mountain Equipment that we were able to come on this course, Richard & Rich, I thank you. I do want to most importantly thank and praise the Great team that Plas y Brenin have provided, Rob, Dave, Keith, Stuart ( " The Guns" & " Not the Face") & the lovely lass!. Without some of these Guides/ instructors/ staff of Plasy Brenin I would not have made it. I can not express the gratitide I feel for the experience in this review. I thank you.

A great week of winter routes, just as billed

Julian Davis

This was a really good week. I had previously been on a week of Scottish Winter 'Technical', and wanted to try out some more routes at a slightly higher level. The guiding was really first class - both guides looked after us very well, and pushed us (well me, at least) just hard enough to make us feel we'd done more than we thought we'd be able to do, albeit on the safer end of the rope. I would quite like a little more instruction, but the fact of being guided meant that we could cram in a lot. We managed to pack a lot into a few days, on different types of routes, and it was a really enjoyable experience.

Thanks Dave and Dave, it was a memorable week - I want to come back and do more of this!

Will we be coming back next year?

Derek Thomas

The climbing had been uncomplicated neve. Almost too easy. But as Dave Evans set off on the next pitch, Roger and I suddenly became aware of a dramatic change. Soon we would leave the comfortable security of our gully and follow which "may be grade IV in unhelpful conditions". We pitched the scramble to the foot of the chimneys -

enough said! I have climbed the route in summer, but this was totally different and much more challenging. Just a pity that time (and brownie points) dictated an abseil from two thirds the way up the chimneys.

Tuesday brought alpine weather. Wonderful! Teams were swapped around, and on Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe, Dave K, Gareth and Julian tackled Innuendo. Julian was modestly thrilled to discover that he had just received his Scottish grade V baptism. The climb Roger and I did with Dave E is called Langsam which at II/III* is technically easier than the climbs on our first two days. Forget grades! - for us two it will always be "The Traverse of the Gods".

On Wednesday the Atlantic storm swept in. Coire an t-Sneachda in the Cairngorms treated us to the perverse but exhilarating enjoyment of battling the wind; but no climbing was done. Our final day saw us making the most of the indoor climbing walls (real ice, artificial rock) at the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven. The 12m ice walls provided good sport up to about grade V, and the opportunity for the Dave duo to give us some much appreciated extra coaching.

Will we be coming back next year? - Do you need to ask!

Yours sincerely

Derek Thomas

Not found what you were looking for?

You can hire one of our coaches instructors or guides from only £250 per day. They'll tailor the day to suit your aims and aspirations perfectly.
You can enjoy one to one coaching for that cost or if you get together as a group, depending on the activity, you can split that cost between up to 6 of you. If you are a group we can run any of our courses on a date that suits you and your friends. Or you could just write your own agenda for a week or weekend and we'll price it up for you - with or without accommodation. What's more, just like out normal course fees, our private instructor hire charge covers all your equipment too. Click on the link below to fill in a request form and one of our coaches will call you back (or e-mail if you'd prefer) to discuss things in detail with you.

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