Garry Smith
climbing and mountain skills
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mountain skills
Crossing the remote 'Northern Pinnacles' of Liathach.
Torridon, North West Scotland.
The elegant snow arete of Sgurr Dearg.
A lovely finish to a PyB winter
mountaineering course, Glencoe.
Taking in the view of the vast Coire Mhic Nobuil.
Torridon, North West Scotland.

mountain skills  a little bit of knowledge and experience can open up a world of opportunities in the mountains. Training can be arranged to help you enjoy the hills at any level. This can range from a single day's instruction through to a comprehensive multi-day course, depending on what you'd like to learn and how much time you have available.

winter skills training  for most people, as little as 2 or 3 days training is all that's required to gain the core skills for venturing into Scotland's winter mountains. You'll learn how to use an axe and crampons to travel across snow-covered or icy terrain, and how to plan a mountain journey that fits with the day's forecasted snow and weather conditions.

winter mountaineering  2 to 4 days training (depending on your experience) can give you the advanced skills needed for tackling grade I/II gullies and snow-covered ridges. These traditional mountaineering skills, as they are often called, can involve just a single mountaineering axe or two climbing axes, whatever your preference. Either way, the aim would be to set you up for venturing onto steeper or more serious winter terrain. You'll get to grips with winter scrambling and become proficient at dealing with the situations where a rope can add some safety.

where can winter skills training take place?  the usual venue is the Northern Cairngorms, with an accommodation base in Aviemore or one of the surrounding villages in the Spey Valley. The Cairngorm Mountains, an area of outstanding natural beauty, are an ideal environment for learning the basic skills of winter walking and mountaineering - the easily accessible Northern Corries have reliable snow cover throughout the season and contain a wealth of easy mountaineering terrain, particularly gullies. And the high and extensive Cairngorm plateau is about as arctic as it gets outside of the Arctic Circle.

Winter skills training can also be based elsewhere in the Highlands, just ask. It's easily feasible to arrange courses based in Glencoe, the Fort William area or even the North West. There may be a small additional charge to cover my re-location expenses, which is always quoted upfront before any booking.

It's worth noting that being based in the Aviemore/Northern Cairngorms area gives the option of a day's mountaineering in other mountain ranges (Aviemore is centrally located in the Highland road network). The Laggan Hills and Creag Meagaidh are only 50 mins drive away. Ben Nevis and the Mamores can be reached in an hour and 15 minutes. And with an early start, Torridon, the Lochcarron Hills and An Teallach are also within a day's striking distance.

navigation training  learning how to find your way around a mountain in poor visibility can be far easier to learn than you might think. In just a couple of days you can have the whole map and compass thing de-mystified and become comfortable at navigating around the hills. You'll learn essential techniques such as how to walk on a bearing and how to pace or time the distance you've covered. You'll also learn how to pick out the safest route to your destination and how your smartphone's GPS can be used as a back-up tool. Navigation training is available on a daily basis, all year round.

alpine preparation  make life in the bigger mountains that much easier with a bit of pre trip training. Learn the art of safe glacier travel and make sure you can haul a partner from a crevasse. If your objective is alpine rock, the ability to 'move together' quickly and fluidly can be practised on the numerous mountain crags in Snowdonia.