Our Uk Alpine Training Weekends are designed for people planning to visit the Alps for the first time, or those wanting to brush up on skills and fitness for a return visit. They are the ideal way to make your alpine trip both safer and more successful. Based in North Wales, the emphasis is on covering as much mountain terrain as possible, incorporating formal skills training into real days out on the hill. This makes an ideal training weekend for our introductory and intermediate level Alpine trips and courses.
Please visit our Covid-19 Climb Information page for Covid FAQs, details of our new participation requirements, travel advice and what to expect on your trip.
Who is this course for?
If you are planning your first climbing trip to the Alps (either with friends or a guide), or you want to brush up on skills and fitness for a return visit, then this is a perfect 2 day pre trip training weekend based in North Wales.
To take part you should be at Fitness Level 2 and minimum Tech Level 1 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below). If you plan to head out to the Alps on your own, then previous climbing ropework skills are necessary – but if you are coming on one of our own alpine trips this is not essential, as further training will be provided when you are in the Alps.
Over the two days you will learn alpine ropework and moving together techniques on classic scrambles and climbs around Snowdonia, in addition to glacier travel, crevasse rescue and prussiking skills. Advice will be given on alpine route planning, using huts, alpine weather and climbing conditions. Throughout the weekend you’ll have the opportunity to further quiz your guide on whatever topics you would like to learn more about.
Any items of specialist climbing equipment that you need are also included (eg helmet, harness, rock climbing shoes etc).
- Fully qualified IFMGA British Mountain Guide
- Two full days of alpine skills training
- Everyone welcome!
- Equipment hire included
- Photos and videos of your trip
The itinerary described below is a typical plan for the weekend, but we regularly vary itineraries and objectives to suit your ambitions and the weather.
Trip Reports >> Alpine Training Weekend – North Wales
One IFMGA guide working with 4 clients.
In terms of added value, climbing with an IFMGA guide is a great option if you want to learn from someone with the widest possible range of experience, or you aspire to/are already obsessed with winter or Alpine climbing! IFMGA guides work worldwide on rock, ice, glaciers and ski – so we can offer training, advice and recommendations for all your future plans, whatever and wherever they may be.
Included in price
- 2 days of guiding and instruction
- All guides expenses
- Local transport in guides vehicle to complete the itinerary
- Use of communal technical equipment eg ropes and climbing hardware
- Hire of personal equipment including harness, helmet, belay equipment and rock shoes
Excluded from price
- Travel to North Wales
- Food and accommodation
We price this course on a guiding & instruction only basis. Food and accommodation must be paid for separately. Hotel/BnB/camping ideas can be found on our Accommodation page.
Meet in morning for Course Briefing.
Your guide will run through kit checks and safety routines, as well as hand out any rental equipment, before going on to discuss the itinerary for the weekend, together with the current weather and mountain conditions and how these affect our planning. We’ll have maps and guidebooks of the area to show you, so if you’ve any further questions or last minute requests, then this is the ideal time to bring them up.
Alpine Ropework Day
We usually head to the Ogwen Valley on day one; teaching on a series of multi pitch scrambles and easier grade rock routes, focussing on the following skills:
- Alpine ropework and taking body coils – shortening the rope by taking in and locking off body coils is a fundamental skill for alpine climbing, so naturally it’s one of the first things we look at!
- Moving together using natural terrain belays – an essential time saving technique that is used every day in the Alps for traversing moderate but exposed terrain on longer climbs.
- Short pitching – used for dealing quickly and safely with short, trickier sections along a route.
- Selecting and using direct belay anchors – direct belaying is a technique rarely used in traditional Uk rock climbing, but it’s an important skill used all the time in the Alps.
- Route finding – Alpine routes are very long and route descriptions are brief; so you need to develop good route finding skills to climb effectively in the Alps.
- Descending – getting down from an Alpine peak is often as difficult as climbing up it, so good descending technique is a vital skill.
- Multipitch abseiling – an essential technique for descending difficult terrain or making a safe retreat.
PM Overnight in Snowdonia
Glacier Travel Skills
Review of first days training, before heading on the hill to look at:
- Glacier travel – ropework, spacing, advice and techniques for safe glacier travel.
- Personal prussiking – an essential skill for getting yourself out of a crevasse!
- Crevasse rescue training – crevasse rescue techniques appropriate to the skills and experience of the group.
- Route choice and navigation – picking a sensible route for the conditions and finding your way.
- Putting in all together – how to organise an alpine climb, from planning to undertaking the actual ascent.
PM Q+A session, course debrief and advice for the future.
In addition we can talk through issues such as using Alpine huts, suitable Alpine areas to visit, alpine climbing conditions, route selection and using guidebooks, Alpine hazards and hazard evaluation, equipment selection etc. We try to be as flexible as possible, so if there’s a particular topic you would like to cover then please let us know beforehand or on the first morning and we will do our best to fit it in.
PM Farewells and depart
Your initial meeting point is the village of Llanberis in the heart of this historic rock climbing region, on the Northern edge of the Snowdonia National park.
You should arrange outward travel in order to meet your guide in Llanberis at 9am on the first day of guiding. We usually meet in the famous climbers cafe ‘Petes Eats’ on Llanberis high street – a great place to plan the day ahead over a cup of tea! Return travel should be arranged after 5pm on the last day of guiding.
Llanberis is just 25 mins drive from Bangor, off the main A55 which runs along the North coast of Wales – use the RAC or AA online route planners online for your best route by car. Llanberis can also be reached by train to Bangor, then a connecting bus service – use the Travel Line website to plan your journey.
To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 2, and Tech Level 1 (as appropriate for the style of climbing on this trip ie Alpine, rock climbing or ice climbing).
Fitness Level 2
You do 2-3 hours CV training/sport per week. At this level you should be happy doing either a 3-4 hour hillwalk, cycling 30-40 miles or mountain biking 2-3 hours without being exhausted. Eg: you should be able to walk from Ogwen Cottage in North Wales up Glyder Fach – Glyder Fawr – Y Garn – Ogwen in ~5hrs. Or in the Lake District Langdale – Bowfell – Esk Pike – Angle Tarn – Langdale in ~ 6hrs.
Tech Level 1
Hillwalker/scrambler. You have UK hillwalking and perhaps summer UK scrambling, or European via ferrata experience – but no rock or ice climbing, or previous alpine mountaineering experience.
To view all climbing Technical and Fitness Levels, and for advice on trip preparation and training, please visit our training advice page.
UK Rock Climbing Kit List
Above all, your kit needs to do the job but be as light as possible. Lightweight breathable fabrics are ideal for waterproofs, which are carried as often as worn (hopefully!).
- Waterproof jacket – lightweight breathable model
- Overtrousers – with long side zips
- Socks – warm ‘Smartwool’ type, plus thin liner socks and spares
- Wicking thermal tops/t-shirts
- Softshell jacket – or equivalent light insulating layer
- Mountain trousers – light/mid-weight windproof softshell model
- Thin gloves – windproof ‘hardfleece’ model is good
- Warm hat – must fit under a helmet
- Spare warm layer – fleece or lightweight synthetic belay jacket
- Water Container – at least 1 litre
- Headtorch and batteries
- Map, compass and whistle (optional, but a good idea)
- Personal medications and blister kit – zinc oxide tape, compeed, painkillers etc
- Sun Glasses – CE rated 3 or 4
- Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
- Sun hat
- Shorts and t-shirt
- Rucsac 35/45l is perfect for general use
- Approach shoes or trainers – sticky rubber models are excellent
- Rock climbing shoes – must be comfortable enough to wear for several hours
- Climbing Harness – with locking karabiner and belay device
- 120cm sling and locking karabiner
- Climbing helmet
- *Semi rigid B2 mountaineering boots – Axe, Boot and Crampon advice
Depending on the trip, these may be ‘nice to have’ or ‘required’ items – see individual joining instructions.
- Superlight rucsac – superlight 15/20l model, for taking on long multi-pitch rock routes
- 2 prussik loops and karabiner – if in doubt, bring 3m of 6mm climbing cord!
- Trekking poles
- Camping gear if you choose to camp in the valley
Your guide will have ropes, climbing rack, first aid and survival equipment.
*On trips where boots are required, these should be reasonably stiff 3/4 season mountaineering models. They will be needed if we decide to go ‘big boots’ climbing on easy rock climbs or scrambling terrain. Soft bendy walking boots are not very good for technical scrambling/climbing (you may be better off in a pair of ‘sticky rubber’ approach shoes). See below for advice.
Recommendations and Advice
Visit the Knowledge Base section of our website or our blog for equipment advice. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch!
Backcountry UK in Otley offer an excellent walking boot fitting service and general equipment advice.
It’s best to have your own rock climbing shoes so you can get a proper fit, but if you need to hire some please get in touch. Other safety equipment can also be hired from us (subject to availability) – please see our Equipment Hire page for details.
For UK residents – we strongly recommend that you purchase cancellation cover, in case you’re unable to attend your trip due to personal circumstances or injury.
For non UK residents – search and rescue is currently free in the UK, but you may be charged by the NHS for certain treatments, and you should also consider the need for emergency repatriation in the event of a serious illness/accident. We also strongly recommend that you purchase cancellation cover, in case you’re unable to attend your trip due to personal circumstances or injury.
Please arrange your insurance as soon as your trip is confirmed to run.
Please find further details on our insurance info page.