Northwest Scotland ‘Alpine’ Week

Fitness level
Tech level
Number of guiding days
5
Guiding ratio
1:2

A fantastic week of climbing and mountaineering in the northern Scottish Highlands. On this 5 day climbing holiday we’ll make ascents of some of the finest mountaineering routes in Scotland, enjoying long mountain rock routes and traversing alpine style ridges in Torridon, An Teallach and Assynt. If you are looking for an adventurous uk climbing holiday, then this is a great trip and easily accessible via air, rail and road to Inverness.

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Trip overview

A fantastic week of climbing and mountaineering in the northern Scottish Highlands. On this 5 day climbing holiday we’ll make ascents of some of the finest mountaineering routes in Scotland, enjoying long mountain rock routes and traversing alpine style ridges in Torridon, An Teallach and Assynt. If you are looking for an adventurous uk climbing holiday, then this is a great trip and easily accessible via air, rail and road to Inverness.

Dates and Availability

Dates are by arrangement, from April to October – please contact us with your preferred dates and we will confirm availability. You can join this trip as a ready made team of 2 along with a friend or partner, or you can also join as a single person, in which case we will team you up with someone on the same dates to form a team of 2.

NB If you are interested in a trip with a different duration or program, then please get in touch.

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.

Download factsheet (PDF)

Trip Info

This is a 5 day climbing and mountaineering holiday, making ascents of long mountain rock routes and ‘alpine style’ ridge routes on Munros and other peaks in Torridon, An Teallach and Assynt.  The focus of the week is on doing as much high quality climbing as possible, whilst bagging some great summits – so if there are any Munros or other summits that you’ve got your eye on, then please let us know!

Possible ascents include Cioch Nose Direct on Beinn Bhan, Piggotts Route on Beinn Eighe, Traverse of An Teallach, Liathach via the Northern Pinnacles, Traverse of Stac Pollaidh, Pinnacle Ridge on Cur Mor etc.  If you’ve climbed in the Alps before, then this is a similar style holiday – and if you haven’t, then this is a great starting point(!) as it’s a chance to learn some key skills from a highly experienced Alpine Guide.

Any items of specialist climbing equipment that you need are also included (eg helmet, harness etc) and afterwards, we’ll send you plenty of great photos and video of your trip to share with family and friends.

  • Fully qualified IFMGA British Mountain Guide
  • 5 Days of climbing and mountaineering
  • Equipment hire included
  • Photos and videos of your trip

The itinerary described below is a typical plan for the trip, but we regularly vary itineraries to make best use of weather and conditions.


Suitability

This is an intermediate level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 2-3 and Tech Level 2 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines). A number of the days are 6-8 hours long, involving long mountain rock routes and some exposed ridge terrain; so you need good levels of hillwalking fitness and either some PD-AD alpine experience, or V Diff – Severe outdoor rock climbing experienceNB If you have a reasonable amount of indoor wall climbing experience, then the trip will also be fine – we’ll include some skills training at the start of the week!


Guiding ratio

One IFMGA guide climbing with 2 clients.

ifmga british mountain guides

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.


Included in price

  • All guides fees and expenses
  • Local travel 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

Excluded from price

  • Travel to Strathpeffer
  • Accommodation
  • Lunches, Drinks and Evening Meals
  • Insurance

Accommodation

You can choose your own hotel/B&B/holiday cottage/camp to suit your budget.  Our base for the week is the Highland village of Strathpeffer, but Muir of Ord and Dingwall make equally good bases, just north of Inverness.


ABTOT Protected

This trip is protected by ABTOT – Alpine Guides Ltd, Membership Number 5394.  For further information, please visit our Financial Protection page.

Detailed Itinerary

Briefing

Your guide will brief the team on the first morning of the trip.  Here we will run through safety routines and kit checks, as well as hand out any rental equipment – before going on to discuss plans and the current weather and mountain conditions.

We’ll also have maps and guidebooks to show you, so if you’ve any further questions or last minute requests, then this is the ideal time to bring them up before we head out on the hill.


Climbing Days

Five days climbing classic mountain rock routes and ‘alpine style’ ridge traverses around Northwest Scotland.  Climbs and venues are chosen to make best use of the current weather and enjoyable routes for the team.  We plan to do the biggest outings on the best weather days eg Liathach/Beinn Eighe, An Teallach and make use of the local micro climates in different areas – if you’ve climbed with us in the Alps before, then you’ll know how good we are at keeping the ball rolling and making best use of the weather!

There are some great lower level scrambling options available too; eg the West Ridge of Meall Cean Na Creige at Diabeg is an excellent Sea to Summit day out – this brilliant grade 3 scramble is reached along the shoreline at low tide, before climbing 270m up excellent rock to the summit.

Possible outings include:


An Teallach Traversescrambling on an teallach

The traverse of An Teallach is without doubt one of, if not the, best mountain day out in Britain.  There are numerous options along the more technical sections of the ridge, to include or avoid the trickiest sections of scrambling.

If all the harder options are taken, the ridge merits grade 3 and a good head for heights is essential, as the north face drops away spectacularly to Loch Toll An Lochain far below.


Cioch Nose Direct, Applecross

The Cioch Nose Direct is one of the best long V Diff rock routes in the Uk.  The route climbs an imposing sandstone buttress, leading into a long alpine style ridge.  The summit is a Corbett rather than a Munro, so provides a slightly shorter and much quieter day in stunning scenery.


Liathach Traversetraversing lliathach, torridon

Liathach is one of the finest Munros in Scotland and a long day out, traversing the many striking towers that make up it’s 2km long summit crest.

Our plan is to traverse Liathach via the Northern Pinnacles, which is a longer and more technical option, but the most memorable way to climb the mountain.


Central Buttress of Beinn Eighe

This great Torridon classic starts with a long walk round into Coire Mhic Fhearchair, where the magnificent Triple Buttress of Beinn Eighe rears into view.  The great Central Buttress is nearly 300m high and can be climbed via a number of routes to make an 8 pitch long Severe rock climb – first up the lower sandstone tier and then the quartzite tiers above, to finish on the summit of Coinneach Mhor.


scrambling on stac pollaidhStac Pollaidh Traverse

Stac Pollaidh is a brilliant 600m peak in Assynt, that offers excellent alpine style scrambling and V Diff rock climbing up an impressive sandstone face, then over a series of towers along the summit crest.  It only takes half a day, so is perfect for a shorter outing in mixed weather, or the day following one of the bigger peaks.

A visit to the sea cliffs out at Reiff can also be combined in the same day, which offer hundreds of excellent shorter climbs in a beautiful coastal setting.


Cul Mor, Pinnacle Ridge

Situated close to Stac Pollaidh, but a much quieter summit, Pinnacle Ridge on the NW side of  Cul Mor is a fun alpine style scrambling route with some entertaining harder options.  The West Ridge of Ben Mor Coigach is another similar route a few miles to the south, giving plenty of options in this area.


Cairngorms

Being based just north of Inverness allows us to access a variety of different micro climates during the week.  The weather is often different in the Cairngorms compared to the West Coast – so if it’s wet out in the west for a day, we have the option of heading down to the Cairngorms and enjoying some great granite climbing instead.


Climbing on the East Coast

The east coast of Scotland frequently stays dry when the weather is poor in the mountains further west, which means we can usually continue climbing throughout the week, whatever the weather decides to do.  There are a number of good crags close to Inverness, as well as some great sea cliff climbing out on the Moray and Caithness coasts, should we need to escape a day of wet weather in the mountains.

Day 5 PM – roundup of the trip, feedback, advice for the future and farewells.


Location and Travel

The trip is based around the highland village of Strathpeffer, just north of Inverness.  From here we have access to all the main mountaineering venues in Northwest Scotland.  You need to arrange accommodation in or near to Strathpeffer, so that you can make daily meet ups and reach the various venues.


Travel

  • Road – Strathpeffer can easily be reached by car via the A9 to Inverness, then A835.
  • Rail – Trains are available to Inverness and on to Dingwall, then take a bus or taxi to Strathpeffer.
  • Air – flights are available to Inverness, then bus, taxi or hire car to Strathpeffer.
  • Bus – Bus services are available to Inverness and on to Strathpeffer.

Fitness and Experience

To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 2-3, 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.

Fitness Level 3
You do 3-4 hours CV training/sport per week. At this level you are happy doing a 5-6 hour hillwalk, 40-50 mile cycle or 3-4hr mountain bike ride without being totally exhausted. If you are into challenges – then the thought of doing a road sportive, or training to do a 1/2 (or maybe even a full) marathon, wouldn’t seem too ridiculous. Eg: you should be able to do the full Langdale Horseshoe: Langdale – Pike of Stickle – Angle Tarn – Bow Fell – Crinkle Crags – Pike of Blisco – Langdale in a day without finishing up exhausted.


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.

Equipment

UK Scrambling 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!).

Technical Clothing

  • Waterproof jacket – lightweight breathable model
  • Overtrousers – with side zips
  • Socks – warm pair, plus lighter pair and spares
  • Thermal tops/t-shirts – made of synthetic materiel (ie not cotton!)
  • Softshell jacket – or equivalent light insulating layer
  • Mountain trousers – light/mid-weight trekking or climbing trousers (leggings are Ok in good weather)
  • Thin gloves – windproof ‘hardfleece’ model is good
  • Hat or Buff – must fit under a helmet
  • Spare warm layer – fleece or lightweight synthetic jacket

Personal Items

  • Water Container – at least 1 litre
  • Headtorch
  • Map, compass, whistle (optional, but a good idea)
  • Personal medications and blister kit – zinc oxide tape, compeed, ibuprofen etc
  • Sun Glasses
  • Sun cream
  • Sun hat
  • Shorts and t-shirt

Technical Equipment

  • Rucsac 30/40l is perfect for general use
  • *Approach shoes or mountain boots – see notes below
  • Climbing Harness – with locking karabiner and belay device
  • 120cm sling and locking karabiner
  • Climbing helmet

Other Equipment

Depending on the trip, these may be ‘nice to have’ or ‘required’ items – see individual joining instructions.

  • Trekking poles
  • Camping gear if you choose to camp in the valley

Your guide will have ropes, climbing safety equipment, first aid and survival equipment.

*Footwear for scrambling is an important consideration – trekking shoes or walking boots are fine for easier scrambles and whilst you are getting into the sport, but a pair of climbing approach shoes (especially ones with ‘sticky rubber’) or reasonably stiff 3/4 season B2 mountaineering boots will perform much better on rockier sections and trickier terrain. Footwear specifically designed for scrambling, or for via ferratas are also a good option. If you are thinking of investing in a pair of boots with a view to getting into mountaineering, then read our axe, boot and crampon advice article and get some expert advice (we can highly recommend Backcountry Uk, who are one of the country’s leading boots fitters and always offer friendly advice and a high level of service).


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!

Purchasing Equipment
Backcountry UK in Otley offer an excellent walking boot fitting service and general equipment advice.

Hiring Equipment
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.


Insurance

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.

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From £895