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5 Day Winter Skills Course

Holiday summary

Winter Skills in the Cairngorms - ice axe & cramponing skills, winter navigation plus a whole lot more


02/01/2019, 25/01/2019, 15/02/2019


5 days, 6 nights

Meeting Points

Pick up available from: train = Aviemore station airport = Inverness

All Inclusive




3 out of 5

Tour Highlights


  • fully inclusive of 6 nights accommodation
  • all meals at our accommodation from evening of arrival to morning of departure
  • ascend the Munro summit of Sgorr Gaoith
  • acquire vital navigational and winter skills
  • qualified ice axe instruction
  • <

  • traditional Hogmanay Ceilidh complete with band in our local village hall

The course is based from the homely and friendly atmosphere of Fraoch Lodge in the Cairngorms National Park.

Days 1 & 2: After a boot and crampon adjustment check, a good look at the weather and avalanche forecasts and a talk on the equipment that should be carried, we head out into the winter hills. Continuing the ongoing process of avalanche hazard evaluation, we cover the various step kicking and cutting skills. We then move on to the technique of self belay (preventing a loss of footing developing into a sliding fall) and then the various self arrest techniques, both with and without an ice axe to stop a sliding fall. Day 1 is rounded off by ascending the remaining 150 m to Cairngorm’s rime ice encrusted summit (1245m) and panoramic views across the plateau.

Day 3 is a low level navigation day covering a lot of techniques. It acts both as a bit of a physical rest day as well as introducing flexibility into the week to accommodate winter storms. Early on the difficult skill of contour interpretation is introduced and its importance related to attaining a high level of accuracy. Along with looking at compass techniques and micro-navigation (timing and pacings) a whole number of other skills are covered. As well as improving your accuracy in all these techniques we also look at the highly important tactical approaches & techniques that either minimise or negate the effect of error. Your given the right approach and understanding to deal with winter whiteouts.

Days 4 & 5: The last 2 days are spent consolidating and furthering what we’ve learnt in the context of a mountain journeys across the high tops of the Cairngorms. Many regard the Cairngorm plateau as being featureless. It isn’t but the features tend to be a lot more subtle. Under you’re instructors expert guidance and for each leg of the days route you practise compass bearings, timing and pacing as well as the vital skill of contour interpretation both in terms of confirming your direction and distance as well as recognising features as navigational objectives on the ground. By having more objectives you can keep the legs short and hence keep any errors small. Nothing about winter mountain navigation is rocket science but neither is it a sixth sense. It’s down to repeated practise and the experience that results. Further time is given to route planning. On the last day we hope to round the week up by navigating to Sgorr Gaoith spectacular summit 2000ft above the deep trench of Gleann Einich.

This course doesn’t presume any previous winter mountain walking experience though summer hillwalking experience is advisable along with a good level of fitness. Due to the focus on the vital and complex skill of contour interpretation and the repeated opportunity to practise, the course is equally suited to both the novice mountain navigator as well as those with a little more experience. By the end of the course you will have a whole array of techniques and skills at your disposal. You won’t be reliant on the absolute accuracy of just a few and you’ll have an understanding of how they interrelate. You’ll finish the course both confident and proficient in both dealing with steep snow and ice covered slopes as well as winter white-outs.

We asked our guests what sets Scot Mountain Holidays apart, why they return year after year:

“the social aspect”  –  “the camaraderie, food and conversation”   –
“the company of the hosts”  –  
“so warm and welcoming”  –  

 “a profound sense of belonging”  –  “the welcome of Rebecca’s home cooked meal”  –  “Andy’s skills as a guide, naturalist and leader”  –  “stewardship, sustainability and a small footprint”  –  “in harmony with the land”  –  “a slice of rural Scottish life”

Scot Mountain Holidays is the ONLY adventure tour operator in Highlands of Scotland with a combined home and guest lodge. We strive to be more than just an tour. We aim to provide you with a ‘home away from home’ on your adventures. We thought of no better way of doing this than to welcome you into our own home.

We have owned and operated Fraoch Lodge as our home base and business since 1999. In that time, we have come to embrace our guests as members of our extended Highland family.

Fraoch Lodge, Boat of Garten

Andy and Rebecca displaying their awards at Fraoch Lodge

winter guide

Andy getting excited about snow in the Cairngorms

We source our meals from locally produced and home grown ingredients to provide you with the most delicious flavours and traditions the area has to offer (while minimising our impact on the environment, too). Our dining room and lounge are shared spaces where we gather with guests and friends to share in the holiday and offer you extensive knowledge of your tour.

No matter the season, the Cairngorms and Fraoch Lodge is a place to relax and explore all its beauty and comforts, and we hope to make you feel as at home as we are.

Top quality food

Enjoy top class family friendly and freshly prepared food.


We have achieved Gold Star Awards from the world’s most highly respected green accreditation scheme, Green Tourism, and were awarded Highly Commended in their Green Star Awards 2013 for both Scot Mountain Holidays and Fraoch Lodge. We offer a Green Travel Discount of £15 to any guests who travel to us by public transport. Our primary aim is to minimise the carbon footprint of our holidays, and to this end we donate 1% of the price of our tours to the RSPB’s Abernethy Reforestation project.

It is a holistic approach we have to the care of the environment. Andy your adventure guide has a passion for the natural world – whether it’s the flora, fauna or fungi. He has a background in geology and a lifelong interest in natural history, as well as being a keen gardener.  He knows a Golden Plover from a Dotterel, a Green Shank and a Dunlin. He also makes no apologies to being very excitable upon spying a Golden Eagle!


For further information, please don’t hesitate to check out our Environmental Responsibility page, or contact us directly at info@scotmountainholidays.com.

Gold award - Green Tourism

Gold standard for Green Tourism

Booking Procedure

Departure Guarantee

We are proud to continue to offer our unique departure guarantee*. If your booking is confirmed by Scot Mountain Holidays you can be assured that your holiday will run. We can offer this guarantee as we are unique amongst walking holiday operators in Scotland by providing all the parts of your holiday (guiding, accommodation and catering) in-house.
* Scot Mountain Holidays reserves the right to alter the venue and itinerary of holidays advertised as based away from Fraoch Lodge.

We work with Worldpay to process our online transactions now so you can rest assured that your payment will be processed securely. We accept the following cards:

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Booking online is straightforward and enables us to confirm your reservation immediately. We also accept bookings by telephone, email, and post.

Attention! Don’t forget to read our trip dossier and booking terms and conditions, BEFORE you complete the booking process!

A deposit of 50% is required at the time of booking unless you are booking less than 28 days before departure. In this case, full payment of the trip price is required

Your Financial Protection

In compliance with the UK Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 a client deposit account has been arranged with the Royal Bank of Scotland to protect monies paid in respect of travel arrangements offered in the Brochure and to cater, where necessary (and subject to the terms of the insurance policy), for a refund of such monies in the unlikely event of our financial failure. The balance of payment is due 28 days prior to the commencement of the course. Credit/debit cards accepted are: Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard, Switch, Non-refundable deposits will be debited on receipt of the booking form. Balance of payment reminder will automatically be sent out to you. Please be prompt in paying the balance. If you decide to pay by internet bank transfer please use your own name or booking number as a reference for the payment so it can be reconciled.


It is a condition of booking that you are insured against medical and personal accident risks. This must include cover for the activities to be undertaken during the trip. We also recommend that you take out insurance which includes cancellation and baggage cover.

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