|Walking in the hills in winter is a natural progression from summer mountain walking. Once you as a walker have confidence and skills in summer it is easier to
move onto winter terrain. The winter environment presents a whole new bag of sights, sounds and experiences - you also need many new skills and some
special equipment to cope with the conditions. Being able to deal with the winter environment is a vital key to enjoying winter walking and although a blue sky and
sunshine is very enticing during the winter months, the conditions can change and put you in a desperate situation if not well prepared. With dedicated training in
the Scottish winter environment and many seasons of experience, I can introduce you safely to the winter environment and teach the skills needed.
|Approaching Ben Nevis and Cairn Mor Dearg from the north. The sun is shining through a thin layer of cloud on our early morning walk-in. Below, a group
approaching Carn Mor Dearg prior to traversing the impressive Carn Mor Dearg Arete linking it to Ben Nevis. The steep northern side of Ben Nevis is the location
of Scotland's most classic winter climbs across a range of grades. Ben Nevis's altitude, although modest, and the close proximity to the west coast of Scotland
give it a climate of its own. On average the summit is only clear roughly 30 days a year, and the average summit temperature is -0.3 degrees Celcius.
|Below left, a very atmospheric picture of an evening in the Black Mount mountains south east of Glen Etive on the west coast of Scotland and below right, getting
ready for a night out. With some know how, a night out can be a fantastic experience be it in a tent or snowhole, even when the weather isn't very inviting.
|The view east from the summit of Ben Nevis. Two climbers pack their kit together while enjoying the superb conditions. Below, the summit shelter.
|Above, more experienced winter mountaineers on the The Fiacaill Ridge which separates two of the most popular winter venues in Scotland, namely Coire an
t-Sneachda from Coire an Lochain in the Cairngorms. The route along the ridge can be selected to give more or less technical scrambling, or a challenging
ascent for an experienced winter walker. Below, superb conditions near Ben Starav at the end of Glen Etive looking towards Glas Bheinn Mhor.
|Above left, the ptarmigan in its winter plumage and right, surface hoar crystals which form on the surface of the snow during cold nights. If the temperature at night
falls very low then these crystals grow quite large and if buried by fresh snow they then form a very weak layer in the snow pack.
|The weather is often far from perfect during a Scottish winter and the conditions in the mountains are often as these four pictures indicate - rime ice, strong
winds and poor visibility. The right equipment and skills to cope are essential. Above, navigation in a white-out near Cairngorm in eastern Scotland. Snow or
sleet falls in the Cairngorm's on 100 days a year and the strongest gust of wind in the UK has been recorded at the weather station on the summit - 173mph!
|Below left, taking a break in good Scottish winter conditions and below right, a warning sign near the cliffs above Coire an Lochain near Aonach Mor.
|Above, training another important skill namely ice axe arrest were one uses the ice axe to arrest a fall. It is a good idea to re-train these skills each season.
Below, late afternoon sun on the mighty bulk of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor seen from the village of Corpach across the waters of Loch Linnhe. The town of
Fort William lies along the waterline in the distance. This viewpoint is well worth an early evening visit if you are in the area.
|Below, a cold and grey day in Glen Etive on an ascent of Ben Starav and Glas Bheinn Mhor. Light piercing the clouds though gave the landscape tremendous depth.
|Below, approaching the summit weather station of Cairngorm early one January morning back in 1997.
This picture is the one that is part of the Mountain Environment logo.
|Above, good crampon and ice axe skills are essential for effective and safe movement and right, on the summit of Ben Macdui without a view!
Below, safely descending a steep hard snow slope.
|Above, looking down over a morning inversion above Achriabhach in Glen Nevis with Cairn Dearg to the right. Below, looking onto the east face of Stob Ban.
|Above, learning to evaluate snow pack stability and thus avalanche risk by use of a rutsch block test here on an "ideal" slope in loading conditions in Coire an
Lochain and below, ascending out of Easy Gully from the coire onto the plateau near Aonach Mor.