Scotland offers some of the best ice and mixed climbing in Europe, with an unmatched variety of climbing styles all within a few hours of its 2 main centres Fort William and Aviemore. Hiring your own private guide is a flexible way to go – whether you’re an individual or a small group we can offer winter skills for general mountaineering, alpine training courses, coaching in ice and mixed climbing, or guiding on any of Scotlands great classics.
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.
If you are a small group looking to learn some winter skills, teams of up to 4-6 people work best. For general mountaineering and intermediate skills – teams of up to 3 people. For coaching in ice/mixed climbing techniques and guiding up to grade 4/5 – teams of 2 people. For longer/more involved routes in the harder grades – 1:1 guiding. We will work with you to create a suitable itinerary at your preferred venue, ideally with some built in flexibility to suit the weather and conditions.
You simply pay the guides daily fee in advance, then cover the guides and your own expenses as you go during the trip – these can be split between your group. Please contact us to discuss your plans and by return, we will provide an (obligation free) outline itinerary, guiding fee quote, and an estimate of all expenses. When you are happy to proceed, we will then send a personalised link to make your booking.
Private guiding is suitable for any ability, however, your group should be well matched in terms of fitness and ability, so everyone can make the most of their holiday.
The Scottish winter season extends from December to late April, with the most reliable conditions occurring mid-season. For ice climbing on Ben Nevis however, April can often be the best month!
All our UK guides are fully qualified IFMGA guides and members of British Association of Mountain Guides, the professional association for mountain guides in the UK – meet some of our team here.
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.
Guide fees (price per day)
- 1 person – £260
- 2 people – £280
- 3 people – £300
- 4 people – £320
The following expenses are payable during your trip:
- Accommodation – half board
- Local travel – fuel and tolls, for use of guides vehicle
- Your travel to the venue
- Your insurance
- Your equipment hire
You are responsible for organising your accommodation at the venue – we are happy to make some recommendations to suit your budget.
Please get in touch to discuss your aims and objectives, and we will be happy to create an outline itinerary for you.
Location and Travel
We will provide help with your travel arrangements once final plans are in place.
Fitness and Experience
To view all climbing Technical and Fitness Levels, and for advice on trip preparation and training, please visit our training advice page.
Scottish Winter Equipment List
Equipment can take a real hammering in winter-time, so a substantial hardshell is preferred, rather than lightweight summer waterproofs.
- Waterproof Jacket – full weight breathable model preferred
- Waterproof trousers – durable model with 3/4 or full length side zips
- Socks – warm ‘Smartwool’ type, plus thin liner socks and spares
- Gaiters – made from breathable material
- Wicking thermal baselayer tops – synthetic not cotton!
- Softshell Jacket – mid weight, wind resistant, light insulating layer (or a mid weight fleece jacket)
- 2nd fleece – or equivalent insulating mid-layer
- Belay jacket – synthetic insulation is best for Scotland
- Powerstretch tights or warm mountain trousers – should fit comfortably under your waterproof trousers
- Thin inner gloves
- Warm mountain gloves – Goretex or equivalent water/windproof model
- Second pair of mountain gloves as above – one pair will often get wet
- Hat or balaclava – must fit under a helmet.
- Spare mittens – especially if you suffer from cold hands
- 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 with side protection
- Goggles – for windy/snowy conditions
- Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
- Wallet and passport
- Alpine Club/BMC card (if you are a member) and insurance docs
- Rucsac 40-50l – to handle extra winter kit
- Rucsac – superlight 15/20l model, for taking on long multi-pitch icefall routes (optional)
- Rigid 4 season mountaineering boots – Axe, Boot and Crampon advice
- Harness, locking karabiner and belay device
- 120cm sling and locking karabiner
- Climbing helmet
- Technical ice axe and ice hammer
- Crampons – vertically orientated front points are best, or sharp new mountaineering crampons are also fine
- Snowshoes or ski mountaineering equipment for Winter Couloirs/Norwegian ice climbing trips – please contact us for advice
Your guide will have ropes, climbing rack, first aid and survival equipment.
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.
Please see our Equipment Hire page for more 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.