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Introduction to Winter Mountaineering


About Us

We are passionate about the natural world and its beautiful wild places.

We have a deep respect and appreciation for the environment and a love for adventure and silent human-powered sports.

More about us

This two-day course with a maximum ratio of 1:4 is designed to bridge the gap between winter walking and winter climbing.

It’s for folks who have winter hill walking experience in Scotland and now have aspirations to move onto steeper and more challenging terrain.

The course aims to teach you techniques and procedures for moving safely on steeper and more challenging terrain during winter such as gullies, headwalls and rocky ridges, using ropes and mountaineering techniques.

Ocean Vertical Associate Instructor Andy Spink leads this course. Andy has over 30 years of experience as an Instructor and Guide, and extensive climbing and hiking experience in the Himalayas, South America, the European Alps and the UK where he has completed all of Scotland’s Munros.

Andy is Co Founder and General Manager of Hebridean Pursuits Outdoor Learning and has an array of high-end qualifications including International Mountain Leader Award and Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor.

The Instructors’ aim is to introduce you to a variety of mountain areas in order to learn and practice a range of winter skills.

These include: movement on snow and ice with axe and crampons, using the rope to safeguard your ascent or descent on steep ground, the choice and construction of snow and rock anchors.

The focus is on a progression of winter skills so that you are able to venture into the often-challenging Scottish mountains during winter, with increasing confidence and accurate decision making, to become your own independent adventurer.

Our courses take place in Glen Coe, and we will be in touch to let you know the specific location for an 8.30am start. The course will cover:

– Planning a mountaineering day

– Equipment requirements

– Safe route choice and navigation

– Advanced crampon and ice axe skills

– Basic rope work for ascending and descending steep terrain

– Skills for ascending graded routes, ridges and gullies

– Appraisal of avalanche risk

Recent Introduction to Winter Mountaineering Courses

Introduction to winter climbing Stob Coire nan Lochan Glen Coe Scotland

Moving safely over steep and challenging terrain in Glen Coe

Introduction to winter skills and climbing with Ocean Vertical on Buachaille Etive Beag in Glen Coe Scotland

Buachaille Etive Beag, Glen Coe, in blue bird winter conditions

Winter climbing skills course on Stob Coire nan Lochan and Bidean nam Bian Glen Coe Scotland

Helmets are a key item in our kit list for winter mountaineering

Introduction to winter climbing and skills with Ocean Vertical on Stob Coire Sgreamhach Glen Coe Scotland

Approaching the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach, Glen Coe, Scotland

winter climbing skills on buachaille etive mor glen coe Scotland

Full winter conditions in Glen Coe - Buachaille Etive Mor

Introduction to winter climbing course with Ocean Vertical on Beinn Fhada and Stob Coire Sgreamhach Glen Coe Scotland

Winter mountaineering on Stob Coire Sgreamhach, Glen Coe, Scotland

Winter mountaineering skills and climbing course with Ocean Vertical on Beinn Fhada Sron na Lairig and Stob Coire Sgreamhach in Glen Coe Scotland

Winter navigation skills on Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe

Winter climbing skills with Ocean Vertical on Sron na Lairig and Stob Coire Sgreamhach and Bidean nam Bian Glen Coe Scotland

Practicing skills for ascending graded routes, ridges and gullies in Glen Coe

Winter climbing skills course on Buachaille Etive Beag and Buachaille Etive Mor Glen Coe Scotland

Learning basic rope work for ascending and descending steep terrain safely in Glen Coe

Had a super day out in the hills (fairly big hills) with OV. Both Stevie & Adrian are experts what they do, complimenting any anxiety with understanding and calmness. Nothing was any trouble for these two.

Myself and those I climbed with were put at ease from the walk in to the walk out. We were given time to eat, rest and to absorb the splendour and majesty of those hills!

I learned so much in one day from map reading, to weather reading, even that apple cores & bananas do not decompose as fast as we think… take them home!

More importantly and as someone who has an irrational fear of heights I was reminded ‘your feet never leave the ground’ Even if the trajectory is steep, your feet are still planted. Thank you, I look forward to my next Scottish winter mountaineering adventure with you OV.


Lisa | East Lothian

Just back from a day with Stevie and Adrian. Both are masters of there trade. Making sure everyone was comfortable and understanding the terrain. I felt in very safe hands on my first winter mountaineering day out with the boys.

I would highly recommend Ocean Vertical to everyone thinking of winter mountaineering in Scotland. Both guys’ are very knowledgeable of mountains and the surrounding areas. I’ll definitely be back out with Ocean Vertical very soon!

Kev | Newcastle

Fantastic day out with Stevie and Adrian today climbing Stob Ghabhar. Scottish winter mountaineering at its best! These guys really know their stuff and I felt in very safe hands for my first venture up to this height in winter.

Amazing experience and I learned to use an ice axe and crampons! to be repeated! Highly recommended!

Caroline | Edinburgh

Exceptionally great outings! I have done Scottish winter mountaineering, coasteering and soon paddle boarding in East Lothian with this company.

The team are very informative about the terrain experienced and the activity we’re doing. The team are really kind and pleasant to be touring with, recommend this company 100%.

Fiona | Edinburgh

Enjoyed a great day in early January with Stevie and Adrian bagging 3 Munro’s – Ben Lawers, An Stuc and Beinn Ghlas.

Great to have the knowledge to take us on the less trodden route to the top of Ben Lawers, help negotiate the atmospheric conditions on the day and give us options for climbs. Thanks, guys! Looking forward to the next winter mountaineering in Scotland trip!

Gary | East Lothian

Lucky enough this year to go out with Ocean Vertical winter mountaineering in Glen Coe, paddle boarding in East Lothian and just recently rock climbing outdoors in Northumberland. Each experience has been an awesome day! Learning valuable skills like navigation in the winter to learning how to safely climb on rock from Stevie and Adrian who are both great at what they do. Loads of experience and knowledge in the outdoors. Looking forward to hopefully more adventure in Scotland soon.

Darrel | East Lothian

Thoroughly enjoyed another trip mountaineering to stunning Glen Coe with the highly experienced team at Ocean Vertical. With transparent and on-going risk assessment, Stevie and Adrian strive to provide their adventurers with the best experience in the conditions available – adapting where necessary with their extensive knowledge of the area. Whether it’s been paddle boarding, climbing or mountaineering in Scotland, I have always had a safe and truly rewarding experience. Can’t wait to get out with them again!

Ruth | East Lothian

What a day! Spectacular weather and views. Lots of snow and it was freezing! First time with an ice axe and crampons. The guys at Ocean Vertical were brilliant. We talked about planning, decision-making, navigation and how to use our technical equipment – I now know how to fit a crampon! Huge thanks and will be back!

Karen | Edinburgh

First time with an ice axe and crampons! What a day in the Glen Coe mountains with Ocean Vertical. It was absolutely breath taking with amazing views and lots of snow! Feeling a lot more confident after this trip and cant wait to get out again….. Brilliant!

Sally | Edinburgh

I thought we were mad getting up for a 3.30am start to go winter hillwalking! I now know why we did it. Watching the winter sunrise over Glen Coe was pretty special. Would I do it again? I’m already booked in for my next trip!

Emily | Edinburgh

What a adventure climbing with Ocean Vertical in Glen Coe!. Not being an experienced climber the guides led us to the top of a very snowy mountain with knowledge experience and skill. Mesmerised by the views I am already looking to book my next trip. There is a whole other world in those mountains – epic day. They also provided transport, ice axes, crampons and boots!

Sarah | North Berwick

I was working in Edinburgh and planned to do some walking with a group of friends. A colleague recommended Ocean Vertical. I called but they were booked out, had a call-back and they coordinated a mountain trip for us!
A day later, I was standing 3,500 feet up on Stob Coire nan Lochan in snow and ice looking out over the most incredible scenery in Glen Coe, a brilliant trip that I couldn’t have accessed without Stevie and Adrian who were fabulous guides. Totally recommend!

Angus | London

Best Hogmanay Ever!!!!

Ended 2019 by climbing up Stob Ghabhar in the Black Mount region close to Glen Coe with @ocean_vertical and @etjo17 and I loved it from start to finish. The weather was clear and crisp, making for phenomenal views for miles around. Our guide @the_stevie_boyle was brilliant – full of knowledge, encouraging, and general all round top bloke! They got us there and back from East Lothian and provided us with all the kit. If you haven’t already been on an @ocean_vertical experience then I highly recommend you do…you won’t regret it!

Suzanne | Edinburgh

Course Overview

Course Overview


January - April

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Day Duration

2 Full Days

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Course Overview



Course Overview

Meeting Point

8.30am. Pre arranged meeting point in Glen Coe

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Minimum Age


Course Overview

Total Distance

8 - 10km / day

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Mountaineering Time

6-7 hours per day

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Course Overview

Group Size

Maximum 4

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Minimum Number


Course Overview


If the weather is unsafe your Guide will choose an alternative mountain location.

What’s included (and not)


  • Experienced & qualified AMI guide
  • Ice Axe
  • Crampons
  • Helmet
  • All Climbing Equipment

Not Included

  • Winter mountaineering boots - crampon compatible
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Warm clothing
  • Hat and gloves
  • Lunch
  • Accommodation
  • Transport

What to bring with you

Winter mountaineering boots - crampon compatible

Waterproof trousers

Please do not use cotton clothing

Wool socks

Base layer

Gloves – plus spares

Lightweight fleece

Warm hat – plus spare

Fleece or soft-shell jacket

Spare fleece / warm top

Trousers – synthetic that dry quickly

Lunch, snacks and liquid

Waterproof jacket with hood

If you have your own - Ice axe and crampons

Trip map

Distance dependent on location and weather

Adventure Activities Licensing Authority ASI Accredited School - Stand Up Paddle ASI Academy of Surfing Instructors NCC Promoting Safe Coasteering