Cairngorms Winter Skills 1 Day

Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 1 customer rating
(1 customer review)


Come and learn the basics of getting around the winter mountains on foot. You’ll have plenty of fun and gain loads of confidence (and possibly also a face full of snow).

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The Cairngorms Winter Skills 1 Day course aims to introduce summer hillwalkers to the foundation skills needed to travel efficiently in winter mountain terrain.

Course content

Day 1

We aim to cover the following topics:

  • Interpreting weather and avalanche reports
  • Recommended personal equipment
  • Good footwork: making progress both with and without crampons
  • Ice axe skills including self belay and self arrest
  • Introduction to safe route choice and avalanche awareness

What to Expect

These are not guided winter walking days. A key aim of these courses is to help you develop your own decision making and judgement in the winter mountains. Therefore, expect some opportunities for exploration and experimentation (all under close supervision, of course!).

Learning ice axe self arrest involves optional sliding and tumbling on short, safe slopes (with helmets and expert coaching). See the short clip below:

Cairngorms Winter Skills: Getting you ready for winter

You will discover that the urban myth saying that ‘Scotland doesn’t get enough snow for avalanches’ couldn’t be more wrong. The Scottish Highlands are actually internationally renowned for often harsh weather and variable snow conditions. With this in mind, winter walkers here need to build up a good level of skills, experience and judgement to get around efficiently and safely.

The Cairngorms Winter Skills 1 day course is run by Malcolm O’Reilly , who has over twenty years experience instructing and guiding in Scotland and abroad. Having worked for some of the leading nature-based tourism and training providers in the industry, you are definitely in good hands.

Winter Sports in the Cairngorms

Based in the Cairngorms National Park, Arc Guiding is arguably in the best place in Britain to discover and practise winter sports. And in Aviemore and the surrounding villages, you get a wealth of options for accomodation, places to eat and equipment outfitters, all within close proximity to national road, train and air transport networks.

Additional information



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Walking Grades

Group size (maximum)


Group size (minimum)


Hire equipment

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What's included?

Complimentary transport, Course materials, Instruction/guiding

Booking types

Individual (1 person)

Meeting time and place

Tisos coffee shop, Aviemore, 0900 (unless otherwise stated). Guests are expected to have collected any hire kit ideally the night before and be ready to go after a welcome briefing. If you need to collect hire equipment this morning, please let me know.


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Tisos Aviemore: 57.192692, -3.831160
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Tisos Aviemore
Tisos Aviemore
Aviemore Scotland, United Kingdom


Walk 3 is the grade for this course. No previous experience of using axes or crampons is required.



The Scottish mountains experience some of the world’s harshest weather conditions, going from sunny and calm to extremely cold, wet and windy, sometimes even during a day! Please bring adequate clothing (please get in touch if you have any questions). 

Availability of hire winter mountaineering equipment (axe, boots, crampons) is generally pretty good. But it is recommended to arrange this as soon as possible. Note that equipment hire is not included in the course fee. 

See the ‘Additional Information’ tab for links to more equipment details.

Recommended suppliers in Aviemore are:


The map below shows an overview of the region visited on this trip. Precise locations and routes used will be decided on the day, depending on weather, terrain, interests, etc. Click and drag to explore, refresh the page to re-centre.

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Aviemore: 57.193700, -3.828800
Cairngorm ski carpark: 57.134400, -3.670807
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Aviemore Scotland, United Kingdom
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Cairngorm ski carpark
Cairngorm ski carpark.

1 review for Cairngorms Winter Skills 1 Day

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Robin Versteeg

    I booked Malcolm for some general winter skills instruction. Having walked the munros all my life, in all weathers, I felt it was time I had some proper tutelage from a mountain expert. Cairngorm mountain is a hill I thought I knew, but Malcolm’s breadth of knowledge – from weather awareness and snow conditions, to kit choice and steep ground techniques – was an eye-opener. Our excursion was well-planned and thoroughly enjoyable, and whether in learning about the intricacies of wind-slab and avalanches, or in sliding around with an ice-axe, I was in no doubt that I was in the hands of a consummate professional. Highly recommended.

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