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Skills and safety in the mountains

Enjoying Scotland's mountains safely means having the right skills and knowledge to cope with the conditions you’re going to meet.

This section of the website outlines some of the essential skills you should master, including navigation and a knowledge of the effects of weather and conditions, along with ways to avoid or cope with any risks involved.

Where you lack particular skills, it may be that one of our courses can fill in the gaps in your knowledge or help you hone and refresh existing skills.

There’s also that knowledge which requires updating for every trip: what the weather is likely to do, and what the snow and avalanche conditions are.

All that can be found in this section.

Essential skills

There are a number of skills essential for anyone wishing to take responsibility for themselves in the Scottish moungains, whether walking, climbing or mountaineering, and whether in summer or winter. Read more here about those skills and how to acquire them.

Mountaineering Scotland courses

Mountaineering Scotland runs a range of courses to help members acquire the necessary skillset to be self-sufficient in the mountains. These subsidised courses are usually arranged over a day or weekend and are aimed at people looking to improve existing skills as well as those looking to acquire the basic skills.

Weather and avalanche forecasts

Knowing what the weather is likely to be is crucial when you're planning a trip, and in winter you need to be aware of snow conditions and avalanche risk too. Our page has links to the main weather and avalanche forecast sites as well as some alternatives.

Health and hygiene

From questions about whether it's safe to drink the water to the thorny issue of 'where to go' in the great outdoors, health and hygiene play an important part in our own enjoyment of the hills and in looking after the environment.

Using your smartphone for navigation?

Read our guidance for keeping your smartphone working for you when you're out in the hills.

Read about #SmartNav

Navigation courses

Learn how to read maps and use a map, compass or electronic devices to find your way in the mountains.

Book a course

Going the Extra Mile - navigation for 18-25 year olds

Low cost navigation skills courses for young people aged between 18 and 25 who enjoy exploring the hills.

Book now