Frequently Asked Questions about Winter Courses

We have a list of general Frequently Asked Questions (available here) but, with so many specific things to consider when choosing a winter course, we thought a dedicated Winter Frequently Asked Questions page should help you decide if Peak Mountaineering is the best course provider for you.

If you have a question that isn’t answered here (or in the course details pages) please let us know and, as well as answering it for you, we’ll add it to this list.

 

What if I find a winter course cheaper with another provider?

That’s easy. Just let us know and, once we’ve checked that it is a comparable course, we’ll match the price.  

We are happy that our courses are very competitively priced but we’d much rather you come with us then head elsewhere (please note that this is in addition to any early booking discounts!). 

Do you offer any early booking discounts?

If you want to make the decision earlier that’s great news and really helps with our scheduling.  In return we are more than happy to reduce the cost.

So, anyone booking a winter course before the end of December will get a 10% discount. 

Why don’t you offer 5 day winter courses?

We used to offer 5 day options but we found that most clients were becoming too tired to enjoy their winter adventure after the first few days and we felt the quality of the learning was compromised.  Infact, we’d go as far as to ask you, if you are planning to book a 5 day course with any other company, to strongly consider if you have the hill fitness to cope with 5 full continuous days in the winter mountains.

We therefore prefer to offer shorter itineraries with the flexibility to add other activities on if you choose.  For example, you may choose to do our 2 day Winter Skills Course, have a rest day, then go on to do our 2 day Snow Shelter Adventure.  You’ll get a chance to rest and recuperate and the follow on course is likely to feel much more manageable.

We also stick to shorter itineraries because we know it still leaves enough time to cover a brilliant package of skills.  Our 2 day courses are perfect for busy people who can’t spare more than a weekend and our 3 day options allow a little more time to build the skill and experience levels. 

What equipment is provided?

We supply all the technical equipment you’ll need for your course FREE OF CHARGE (of course if you have your own and want to bring them along that’s not a problem either).   Some companies may try to charge for equipment hire but we strongly believe you have paid enough for your course and there should be no hidden costs (the only exception is our boot hire service because this is provided by an external supplier).  We want, above all else, to make our winter courses as affordable as possible for you.

The technical equipment you require will vary depending on your course type but may include ice axes, crampons, harnesses, helmets, ropes and climbing hardware. For snow shelter trips we can also provide cooking equipment, insulated mats and bivvy bags.  We can also help with the loan of compasses and maps (although many clients like to buy their own) and we have a limited supply of snow goggles and some head torches available for client use.

What makes and models of equipment do you provide for clients?

We use excellent equipment ourselves and we believe you should expect us to provide that for you too. Currently, for example,  winter clients are receiving  quality options like Petzl Elios helmets, DMM harnesses,  Black Diamond crampons, Grivel mountaineering axes and DMM Fly technical axes.  Current hire boots are either Scarpa Mantas or La Sportiva Nepal Evo’s.  Infact, above all we try to choose the type of equipment you may want to buy in the future so you can give it a good test on the course first.

What if I have a specific winter objective or want to learn things not offered on one of your courses?

That’s what we specialise in!  Just get in touch and we will tailor an itinerary to suit your requirements.  We have a lot of clients that want to climb a specific route, visit a particular area or learn a specific skill.  We can always help.

Why is the instructor to client ratio so important for winter activities? 

While the ratio of clients to each instructor is always important, it is especially important in winter.   We favour small instructor to client ratios so that you benefit from quality time and instruction, where you have time to ask all the questions you want, the routes chosen can be tailored to suit you, and we can take plenty of time to show you specific techniques and skills.  By the end of our courses we want you to be as safe and independent as possible.

Are there any hidden costs?

Not really.  The only exceptions are that sometimes the group makes a decision to use the uplift gondala at the Nevis Ski Area (a ride that will gain us about 600 metres of height in a very short time and feels worth every penny when your legs are tired!).  You will never be forced to use this but if we do it costs approximately £11 per person for a return ticket.  

Similarly, if conditions are very poor we may make use of the indoor ice climbing facility and climbing wall in Kinlochleven.  A 2 hour session on the ice wall costs £20.00 (with an additional £5.00 for boot hire and crampons if the ones you have already aren’t suitable).  Entry to the ice wall also allows us to stay on to use the rock climbing wall free of charge.  Alternatively, access to the rock climbing wall alone is £6.50 (plus £3.00 for rock shoe hire).

Can you guarantee good conditions?

By its very nature the weather in winter is less predictable and unfortunately, despite trying to plan our winter courses as carefully as possible, we have no control over that!  Making the best of the winter requires a flexible approach and we do our very best to use areas and routes that offer the best options for the conditions.  Occasionally this may include driving over to the east side of the Highlands to access the Cairngorm range, visiting the indoor rock and ice climbing facility at the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven or running a session back at the accommodation.  We’ll always keep you busy and learning!  Other than that, we will usually be out in most weathers so please follow the kit list carefully and be as prepared as possible for all the ‘interesting’ weather the Scottish winter mountains have to offer.

What are the timings for courses?

We ask you to arrive the night before the course starts if possible (we appreciate that some participants travel after work on Friday and may get there late).  Meeting you the night before then allows us to give you the information you need for the next day.  We’ll then meet up after breakfast and head out for a full day in the mountains.  The days are short in winter and we typically return at around 4.30pm.  Once you’ve had chance to have a shower and eat dinner we’ll meet up for an evening interest talk before retiring to the bar, lounge or simply for an early bedtime to allow you to recharge your batteries ready for the next day. On the last day of the course we’ll aim to finish around 4pm to help those heading home that evening.

What about transport arrangements?

We ask you to provide your own transport or use public transport to get to and from our base.  If you let us know your arrival time in advance.  Once the course starts we’ll use car sharing to get us around during the course.

How do you try to reduce your environmental impact?

We are passionate about protecting the natural environment. Please read our environment policy here to find out more.