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
Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist
Dramatic GoPro video shows backpacker Alexander Hennessy warding off armed robber in Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Best Place To Be Today shows 365 of the world's most amazing places - and the perfect time to visit them
Watch a man race the Circle line - and win
The 10 Best hiking boots
Pakistani passenger power forces two politicians off plane
- 2 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 3 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 4 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...
Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...
£15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...