The difference between hill-walking and mountaineering: ice
Saturday 16 December 1995
Hill-walking is a summer pursuit, but hill-walking in winter is mountaineering. Winter courses for the inexperienced are essential. Their aim is to teach the basic skills, starting with navigation. After you have acquired compass proficiency you should try it in blizzard conditions, when direction- finding and timing become survival skills. Beginners should also practise such essentials as walking in crampons and using a rope.
The most popular climbing areas in Scotland are Glencoe (including the 8km ridgewalk along Aonach Eagach on the north side) and Ben Nevis (Scotland's highest peak at 1344m), both on the western side of the country. The east is colder and drier than the west, whose coastal climate produces unique climbing conditions including white, sparkly, hoar frost which can be several centimetres deep. Torridon, though more northerly, is nearer the sea than Ben Nevis, and the Gulf Stream can ruin the wintry possibilities of its Mts Liathach and Eighe.
Ice in its many forms co-stars with snow in winter climbing. Most Scottish ice-climbing takes place in gulleys where the snow has melted and frozen several times, forming a surface hard enough to grip on to with basic equipment. With newer and better equipment, climbing on ice-smeared faces and buttresses has become increasingly popular. It is even possible in a hard winter to climb on giant icicles, some of them 100m long, formed where water drips over the crags and precipices.
As any winter mountain enthusiast will tell you, part of the fascination of climbing is the way the climate produces constantly changing conditions, while the mountains themselves have so many facets and formations that you can never tire of them, which is reason enough to get your crampons on.
For further information, contact Kevin Howett, The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (01738 638227), based in Crieff, Perth. The MCS also organises one, two and three-day winter skills courses in January and February. For women enthusiasts the MSC can provide access to a networking group.
Glenmore Lodge (01479 861276) in Aviemore runs summer and winter training courses for beginners up to the highest levels of expertise. Beginners' all-inclusive, five-day courses cost pounds 216.
Martin Moran Mountaineering (01520 722361) organises courses in the Torridon region. An all-inclusive five-day standard course costs pounds 360.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...
£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...