01690 720214

Scottish Winter Hillwalking (Women's Course)

Course Overview

 
 

Scottish winter hillwalking will introduce you to the delights and rewards of walking in the winter hills. With our experienced and enthusiastic instructors you will have the opportunity to explore the hills and learn the specific skills you need to feel confident and stay safe above the snowline.
Core skills covered:

  • How to plan a winter day out using weather and avalanche forecasts.

  • Prepare and equip yourself for the winter mountains.

  • Move safely and securely using ice axe and crampons.

  • The important basics of winter navigation.

  • Decision making to stay safe while journeying in such an active environment.

  • Emergency procedures.

Experience Required

Days in the winter hills can be long so you should have summer walking fitness but more important is the enthusiasm and determination to discover what is out there. No previous experience on snow is necessary.


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Scheduled Dates

blackBlack = Open for booking

blackGreen = Guaranteed to run (additional places are limited please email to enquire)

blackRed = Course fully booked

 

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Detailed Course Notes

You should be 18 years old to attend this course.

Is it for me?

The days in the winter hills can be long so you should have summer walking fitness but more important is the enthusiasm and determination to discover what's out there. No previous experience on snow in necessary.


Course Content

This course will take you progressively through the skills of winter hillwalking. 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:


  • Use of Ice axe and crampons

  • Ice axe arrest

  • Winter navigation

  • Avalanche risk assessment and avoidance

  • Emergency snow shelters

  • Terrain, route choice, and decision making


These areas will be incorporated into mountain journeys, hopefully taking in some of the classic peaks by some of the easier routes.


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

Useful Books

Technical

  • 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.

Inspirational/Historical/Guidebooks

  • 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.



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What's Included In The Price?

    Afternoon tea & homemade cakes
    Instruction/coaching
    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


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

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Accommodation For This Course

Alltshellach

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 7321247 or jamie-leewhite@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.

Travel
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.

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What Equipment Do You Need To Bring?

Equipment


• 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.


Clothing


• 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.




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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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