Our website uses cookies throughout our system and to help us provide a better service. Continue to use the site as normal if you're happy with this, or click here to change your settings

Winter navigation courses

Navigation takes on an extra dimension in winter, when snow, weather and limited daylight hours all add different challenges to finding your way around the mountains in safety. This course is designed to equip you to face up to these challenges with confidence.

THIS IS OUR MOST PHYSICALLY DEMANDING COURSE, candidates MUST be fit enough to spend 8 hours on the hill and ascend up onto the Cairngorm Plateau in the dark in hostile conditions. If you are unsure whether this course is for you, please contact us at info@mountaineering.scot.

Fitness Grade

Our most demanding courses. A very high level of fitness is required over many hours. Rough terrain and hostile conditions will be encountered.  Max distance 15km, max ascent 1000m per day.

Nine hours of intensive winter navigation training with particular consideration to avoidance of avalanche-prone slopes and cornice features. Techniques will include timing, pacing, walking on bearings, aiming off, boxing away from cornice edges, attack points and much more. We will  ‘walk into the dark' and experience the challenges of night navigation.

The courses will be held in the Northern Cairngorms, meeting at the Tiso Store in Aviemore and travelling in our own cars to starting point for our time on the hill.  

We work on an instructor to student ratio of 1:6

Is this course suitable for you?

  • This course is specifically designed to practice navigation techniques after dark so we start at 12 noon and finish around 9 or 10pm.
  • All course participants MUST have completed a winter skills training course either with Mountaineering Scotland or another provider and be familiar with the use of ice axe and crampons prior to attending this course. As well as the basic skills of kicking and cutting steps with their RIGID winter mountaineering boots. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances we will accept people who have not attended a formal winter skills training course but who have considerable personal experience.  Please contact us if you think this applies to you.
  • Course participants must provide all their own equipment.
  • Course participants MUST be fit enough to spend 8-9 hours on the hill and ascend up onto the Cairngorm plateau in hostile conditions.

It is VITAL that you come prepared for a full day in the winter mountains - download the list of essential winter kit below.

  • What's provided: Mountaineering Scotland will provide helmets and an appropriate map, map case and compass where needed, although you can use your own.
  • What you need to bring: You will need to be equipped for a full day in the hills in winter conditions with adequate warm and waterproof outdoor clothing, winter boots, ice axe and crampons, as well as plenty of food and drink (ideally some warm drink) - see the full kit list below. 
  • You will also need a good quality head torch (min 300 lumens) plus spare head torch and/or batteries.

Not sure if you have the right boots? Read more about winter boots here

If you have any questions regarding the suitability of your kit or indeed any other questions about the course please contact us in advance.

2024-2025 Winter Navigation Course dates will be announced later this year 

(Please note that most of the one day winter skills courses run the day before these dates.  You MUST have attended a winter skills course prior to attending the navigation course)

Courses will start at 12 noon and finish between 9 & 10 pm.

Cost: £TBC

The course fee does NOT cover equipment, accommodation or transport.

Pre-booking is essential. Please read the course information and booking and cancellation conditions - by making a booking you are agreeing to these terms. 

To take part in our mountain safety courses, you need to be over 18 and a member of Mountaineering Scotland. Thanks to your membership, we can subsidise the costs of our courses and offer them at affordable prices for all.

  • Mountaineering Scotland members can book and pay easily and quickly online in our members’ web portal
  • If you are not a Mountaineering Scotland member, you can join and book your course at the same time online in our members web portal.

Our cancellation policy:

  • Cancellations 7 days or less before the course date are non refundable and non-transferable.
  • Cancellations less than 4 weeks before a course date - we will only offer a refund or transfer if we find a replacement to take your place (admin fee applies)
  • Cancellations more than 4 weeks before the course date will incur a £10 admin fee per booking to cover admin costs.

If you have any questions please get in touch.

  • It felt totally alien to be gaining height as night fell, even a bit of apprehension but in fact my surroundings and positional awareness were very clear, a strange feeling! But weirdly finding I would do it again.
  • A memorable experience, thanks again to you both.
  • The course was well planned by Heather and she engaged the group well throughout - as an example there were route choice options and decisions on the plateau in which the group was fully involved.  I found the whole course immensely rewarding and I gained valuable experience.  As a result I will be more self-reliant and able to discuss decision making about route choice with colleagues and make informed choices.
  • While the skills weren't completely new to me, your top instruction has made a few previously woolly concepts clear in my mind. Can't wait to get out and put them into practice over the winter season.