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Winter Mountaineering in Scotland

The Cairngorm Plateau: Winter Skills Snowhole Expedition

from £270pp

Duration 3 days ~ For three days and two nights this trip allows the best environment for safety skills training

Trip Only Option


Price Includes
-Qualified, local guiding and instruction
-All local transport throughout
-Free pick up/drop off at local rail station (Aviemore)
-Free pick up/drop off at Inverness airport
-All specialist equipment: No hidden hire costs
-FREE accommodation - shovel supplied to create your snowhole!!
We know how expensive it is for family groups to share a holiday together so, if you are a family of 4 or more, we give you a 10% reduction on the prices shown here. And we never increase pricing during school holiday periods.

Fully Catered


Everything shown in the Trip Only option plus all your meals throughout


"A spectacular trip through an inhospitable, Arctic landscape. We encountered a full range of mountain weather from blizzard conditions and total whiteout to brilliant sunshine and fantastic views. I didn't expect to be coming back from the hills with a suntan! The hospitality and friendliness shown to me by everyone has made this trip truly memorable." Dave King

Cavernous snowhole during the Cairngorm Plateau Expedition March 2008

Cavernous snowhole during the Cairngorm Plateau Expedition March 2008

Crossing the rim of Coire an t sneachda Cairngorm Plateau Expedition

Crossing the rim of Coire an t sneachda Cairngorm Plateau Expedition

Cairngorm Loaded for over night snow holing expedition Jan 2011

Loaded for overnight snow holing

Cairngorm Snow holing

Home sweet home - overnight snow hole

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learning to assess avalanche risk

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Essential rope skills which every winter walker should know

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A pristine day on the plateau can very quickly become . . . .

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. . . this ! Winter navigation skills become life saving.

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The Cairngorm Plateau

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Spindrift blowing over the plateau

Trip Description

Why descend every night just to waste time getting all the way back up to the plateau the next day? Stay high and eat, sleep and live as an expedition mountaineer for three days. Discover the confidence that constructing your own shelter in a harsh climate gives you and the satisfaction and warmth of having a wee dram in your sleeping bag, by candle light.

A traverse of the Cairngorm Plateau summits and corries will allow us the best mountain craft training environment possible. The allure of the highest, wildest, sub-arctic plateau in Britain is the main attraction and the icing on the cake is a chance to learn night navigation, avalanche awareness, emergency shelters, ice axe and crampon training throughout the trip in this raw wilderness. We’ll cover basic ropework and snow anchors to improve your security on steep ground. Two nights will be in a snowhole which we’ll spend time digging out into a luxurious palace! If you want to improve your winter mountain safety skills then this is quite simply the best way to do it.

It doesn't matter whether you are new to the winter mountain environment, or have a few winter seasons under your belt, as everyone is able to learn new skills, hone rusty ones or simply find out if their safety levels are up to scratch. The standard of training, over the three days, is that of the winter mountain leader syllabus, although aimed at independant mountain enthusiasts not wanting the hassle of registering and becoming part of the formal training and assessment network. As such this is not a certificated course and is aimed at improving personal safety on the mountains as well as being a great guided experience.

Typical Itinerary

Day One: meet Aviemore for planning and packing session before transferring to Cairngorm ski car park and ascent onto the plateau aiming to traverse the rim of Coire an t-sneachda to snowhole site.

Day Two: a day of snowcraft skills with a crossing of the plateau via Ben MacDui practising navigation skills en route and locating a site for the last night bivvy. Night navigation session after dinner. Second night in snowhole.

Day Three: Walk out with security on steep ground session and avalanche training en route.

Please note: the above itinerary is a guide only as actual plans will be flexible to suit group & prevailing weather. In the event of unsafe weather we will base ourselves in Aviemore and go up into the Corries as lightweight training days. In this event you will need to use the SYHA hostel in Aviemore ( or B&B) on the saturday night and pay for this as an extra. All meals are still provided if you stay in the hostel where your guide will be.


Monday morning meet at 9am Aviemore at rail station entrance
Monday to Wednesday mountain days
Wednesday finish and depart Aviemore late afternoon.

Instructor Ratio


Suitable For

Anyone with good summer hill walking experience wishing to learn core safety skills for winter walking/mountaineering.

NOV 24-26,
DEC 1-3, 15-17
JAN 12-14, 26-28
FEB 2-4 , 16-18
MAR 2-4, 23-25