The Scottish Highlands are home to the biggest mountain rock climbs anywhere in the Uk. Since the 1860s, Scottish rock climbing guides have been sharing their expert knowledge of highland crags and summits with visitors from across the Uk. Hiring your own private guide is a flexible way to go – whether you’re an individual or a small group, we can offer guiding on any of the Highland’s classic routes, as well as coaching and skills training for both outdoor rock climbing and alpine mountaineering.
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.
British Mountain Guides
All our UK guides are fully qualified IFMGA guides and members of British Mountain Guides, the professional association for mountain guides in the UK – meet some of our team here. Only a small number of guides working in the UK are holders of the IFMGA guides carnet, which is the highest professional qualification in mountaineering.
In terms of added value, climbing with an IFMGA guide is a great option if you want learn from someone with the widest possible range of experience, or you aspire to/are already obsessed with winter or Alpine climbing! We 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.
You simply pay the guides daily fee in advance, then cover the guides and your own expenses as you go during the trip. Any items of specialist climbing equipment that you need for the activity are also included (eg helmet, harness, rock climbing shoes etc). 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
- Everyone welcome – beginners to experts!
- Fully personalised program
- Equipment hire included
- Photos and videos of your trip
Just get in touch with your group size and requirements and we will create an itinerary for you. When you are happy to proceed, we will then send a personalised link to make your booking.
Private guiding is suitable for any fitness/technical level, from 1-5 (see Fitness and Experience guidelines). However, your group should be well matched in terms of fitness and ability, so everyone can make the most of their holiday.
As a rough guideline, these guiding ratios apply:
- Scrambling routes – 1:2 to 1:4 depending on difficulty
- Classic multipitch rock climbs – 1:2 max ratio
- Introductory level skills training – 1:4
- Intermediate level skills – 1:3
- Training involving multipitch climbing – 1:2 max
- Serious/technical/big objectives – 1:1
Just let us know which activities and objectives you have in mind and we will advise on the maximum guide to client safety ratio.
For trips of 1 or more days in length.
Our season runs from April to November, with best conditions/milder weather between May and September.
Guide fees (price per day)
- Rock climbing, scrambling and instruction – from £220
- Bigger objectives – from £300 (eg Skye ridge attempts, higher grade rock climbing etc)
Please contact us to discuss your plans and we’ll send you a personalised 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.
The following expenses are payable during your trip:
- Local travel – fuel/tolls for use of guides vehicle
- Your travel to location
- 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.
We offer rock guiding and skills training throughout Scotland and across the grade range – just let us know your aims and aspirations and we’ll put together a personalised program. Popular outings and types of climbing include:
Scottish Scrambling and Mountaineering
Scotland is home to the finest selection of scrambling and mountaineering routes anywhere in the Uk. Many famous ridges and buttress across the Highlands give thrilling days out, scrambling through superb scenery and frequently leading to the summit of an excellent Munro.
- Glen Coe – Buachaille Etive Mor – Curved Ridge, Aonach Eagach traverse
- Ben Nevis – Ledge Route, Castle Ridge, CMD Arete
- Mamores – Ring of Steall
- Skye – Cuillin Ridge, Clach Glas – Bla Bheinn traverse
- Applecross – A’Cioch Beinn Bhan
- Torridon – Liathach traverse, Beinn Alligin traverse
- An Teallach traverse
- Assynt – Stac Pollaidh, Suilven
We regularly combine several classic scrambling routes over a few days to make a great mountain holiday. Please get in touch to discuss your aims and objectives and we will be happy to create an outline itinerary for you.
Scottish Classic Rock Climbs
The Lake District is home to many of the finest and most historic classic rock climbs in the British Isles. These routes lie in the V Diff to Severe grades of difficulty, making them accessible to anyone who climbs regularly indoors.
- Skye – Cuillin Ridge, Cioch Direct, Arrow Route
- Sgurr a’ Chaorachain – Cioch Nose
- Ben Nevis – Tower Ridge
- Glen Coe – Archer Ridge, Crypt Route, Agags Groove
- Cairngorms – Squareface, Cumming-Crofton, Savage Slit, The Talisman
- Lochnagar – Eagle Ridge
- Binnein Shuas – Ardverikie Wall
- The Cobbler – Recess Route, Punsters Crack
- Arran – Sou’wester Slabs
Although the grades are not difficult by modern standards, these routes are memorable for a reason! Classic status always indicates something special and outstanding about the climb; an exposed or strenuous crux pitch, incredible rock, an amazing situation, or frequently a combination of all three…
Classic Scottish VS’s
Moving up the grades to VS terrain opens up a huge number of amazing climbs from the pre and post war era.
- Skye – Integrity
- Sheigra – Am Buachaille
- Ben Nevis – Long Climb
- Buachaille Etive Mor – Crows Nest Crack, May Crack
- Glen Etive – Sparten Slab
- Ben Macdui – Scabbard
- Hell’s Lum – The Clean Sweep
- Creag Dubh – King Bee
- Beinn Eighe – Central Buttress
- Old Man of Stoer –
- The Cobbler – Ardgarten Arete
- Arran – South Ridge Direct
To enjoy these climbs you need to be fit and climbing regularly, as well as having some trad climbing experience, so you know how to remove gear, organise belays and abseil safely.
Higher Grade Rock Guiding
For strong and experienced trad climbers, we offer specialist rock guiding in the higher grades.
This is a bespoke 1:1 service – so if you’ve got your eye on some classic Hard Rock ticks, or want to push yourself on E grade classics, then drop us a line with info about your current level of fitness experience and we’ll get in touch to discuss plans and ideas to make the most of your climbing time in Scotland.
We will provide help with your travel arrangements once final plans are in place.
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 mountain 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.