Winter 2019 Winter Skills Course offerings in Scotland and The Lake District with Lakes Outdoor Experience.
Winter 2018/19 Scottish & Lake District Winter Course dates now available.
Winter conditions have started to put in an appearance on the UK'S mountains in recent weeks and it has been feeling noticeably colder at the same time. Feels like we might be in for a good winter this season!
We will again, be running our Winter Skills Courses for the 2018/2019 season in Scotland and The Lake District starting in early January and we are now taking bookings. Contact us here to make your enquiry.
Gift vouchers can be bought for our Winter Skills Courses. What a great idea for a Christmas present for your family & friends to redeem at their liesure. Click here for more info.
So why should you attend a Winter Skills Course?
If you enjoy walking in the mountains in Summer then you'll definitely enjoy winter walking. It's an exhilarating experience in a cold, fresh, crisp environment. However, the landscape looks very different under a blanket of snow & ice and this different surface can present it's own hazards & dangers. Accumulations of soft, fresh snow can be prone to avalanching, whilst, at the opposite end of the spectrum, old frozen snow (Neve) and ice, present surfaces that can be difficult, if not impossible to walk on; and a slip on this sort of surface could prove fatal!
This year we have two winter skills offerings for you - a two day and a four day winter skills course!
The two day Winter Skills Course.
Our two day Winter Skills Courses follow a comprehensive syllabus designed to teach you all of the skills to be able to venture into a winter mountain environment with confidence, allowing you to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the moutains in winter whilst dealing with the challenges that winter conditions can throw at you. By attending one of our Winter Skills Courses, you will learn techniques you can use, where appropriate, to keep you safe and secure at all times; and to survive to tell the tale, if, for whatever reason, things go wrong!
Ideally, your two day winter skills training course will take the following format:-
Day one. Staying safe!
- How to interpret weather conditions & snowpack using forecasts from both the Mountain Weather Information Service and the Scottish Avalanche Information Service.
- How to walk on hard surfaces of varying degrees of hardness using your winter boots and walking axe to aid progress. We will be cutting & kicking steps up & down snow slopes as well as sideways and diagonally across snow slopes.
- How to use an ice axe to arrest a slide on hard snow or ice (photo right) in four possible positions. Ice axe braking - head first on your back, is a most challenging skill to master!
What to do when on hard snow or icy conditions!
- On day one we will also practice crampon usage (photo right) to deal with moving on hard snow (Neve) and ice when kicking or cutting steps becomes a laborious process.
Crampons can be a real life saver on one hand and a serious hazard for yourself and others on the other!
We will teach you how to use crampons properly during your winter skills course by keeping as many points as possible in contact with the ice to give you maximum security on icy terrain and how to change the way you use them as the angle of the slope gets steeper.
Depending on how much time we have left on day one, we may begin to cover aspects of the syllabus from day two; or we can revisit parts of the syllabus already covered on day one if further practice is required for a better understanding of techniques.
Please note, we do not consider Microspikes or any form of "slip on" Micro - Crampon as suitable for attending any of our winter courses. You need 12 point mountaineering crampons such as these for example.
Day two. Ropework, snow & ice belays and snow shelters.
The MTA winter skills syllabus ceased to include ropework techniques a number of years ago when a sharper distinction was made between winter walking where it was felt that a rope was not required; and winter climbing which necessitates the use of a climbing rope. Basically, the MTA "watered down" the winter skills syllabus.
We feel that it is beneficial for you to have a knowledge of basic winter climbing techniques involving the use of a rope and basic winter snow & ice belays. Most modern winter skills courses do not include ropework and snow belays - ours always have and they always will!
There are many methods of forming belays using a rope, your ice axe or even just your body and a hole in the snow. As part of your winter skills course, we will look at
basic snow & ice anchors, buried axe anchors and how to use a deadman (a shaped Aluminium plate specifically designed for use as a snow anchor).
Other methods include the use of a body belay and bucket seat the use of equipment in other ways such as a stomper belay or a boot/axe belay (New Zealand boot-axe belay) shown in the photo to the right.
If time permits on day two, we will also show you how to use the anchors in basic winter climbing scenarios.
Surviving an incident; or a night out in the mountains.
Accidents or incidents can happen in the mountains. You may have been injured, and are unable to walk out and need shelter from the conditions whilst waiting for help to arrive; or you may have gotten lost, and it is getting dark. You cannot find your way off the mountains and need to "dig in" to avoid freezing to death.
You need to dig a snow shelter!
- There are a number of options for digging an improvised snow shelter - the easiest is to dig sideways into a steep bank of snow to form a snow hole.
- Other methods include digging a body-width slot into a snow slope and covering it with blocks to make a shelter where you can sit out the night (as in this photo - called a lean to, sitting bivvi), digging a trench in the snow and covering it over with blocks (a snow grave) or piling up a mound of snow over rucksacks and then removing them to make a hollow snow mound called a "Shovel up".
- We will provide you with snow shovels to fashion your snow hole and a n ice saw to cut out blocks of snow. Making snow shelters can be a great deal of fun; and it is an excellent way to get warm!
Learning this skill can be a real life saver in the mountains and we would recommend trying an over night sleep-over in a snow hole....something else we can arrange for you!
And secondly, the four day winter skills course!
In our four day winter skills course, we cover everything outlined in the two day winter skills course and then put these skills into practice during two days of winter mountain walking.
Days one & two, we cover the winter skills course syllabus as outlined in the two day course.
Day Three. Winter Navigation practice.
- Winter navigation, pacing & timing, relocation techniques, safe navigation in whiteout conditions.
- Movement on steep ground (up to Scottish grade 1).
- Munro day taking in classic ridgeline or gully. Guided, with all decisions & route choices discussed with the group and fully explained to help aid learning.
- Evening session for route planning on day four.
Day four. Winter Mountain Walking Day.
- Using all of the winter skills and navigation skills gained on the previous three days, you will undertake a mountain journey taking in a Munro summit as part of the day whilst coached by your instructor where necessary.
2 day open winter skills course: Open to anyone wishing to join a group to learn winter skills - price £150.00 per person. Maximum group size - 6 persons per instructor. Minimum group size for course to run - 2 persons.
2 day private Winter Skills Course 1 on 1 - £360.00. Add additional people to your group for just £90.00 and share the overall cost. Maximum group size 6 persons per instructor.
4 day open winter skills course: Open to anyone wishing to join a group - £300.00 per person. Maximum group size - 6 persons per instructor. Minimum group size for course to run - 2 persons.
4 day private winter skills course 1 on 1 course - £720.00. Add additional people to your group for £180.00 and spread the cost.
Course dates - 2 day open courses
February. 9th & 10th: venue - Northern Corries, Cairngorms. 16th & 17th: venue - Glen Coe, 23rd & 24th : venue - Northern Corries, Cairngorms.
March. 2nd & 3rd: venue - Glen Coe. 9th & 10th: venue - Northern Corries, Cairngorms. 16th & 17th: venue - Glen Coe. Please note - all courses need a minimum of two persons per course before they will run.
Course dates - 4 day open courses.
March. 20th - 22nd: venue - Glen Coe. Please note - all courses need a minimum of two persons per course before they will run.
Course dates - 2 day and 4 day private courses.
Private courses will be arranged for you at dates of your choosing and can be run during a weekend or during week-days until the end of March 2019. Contact us to enquire.
Lake District Winter Skills Courses.
Will be running if suitable winter conditions prevail - please, again, contact us to enquire.
Saturday 1st of December 2018