Here at 56 degrees North, the western highlands create a physical barrier to atlantic weather systems. This makes for some rugged winter conditions, and the maritime track of these depressions frequently brings saturated air onto frozen cliffs, creating the rime ice folk travel hundreds of miles to climb. Whilst more stable continental air to the east or south may produce lower temperatures, our climatic battleground invariably creates some of the finest winter climbing conditions to be found in Europe.
Such conditions test most visitor’s laminate waterproofs beyond their limits and most mountaineers serve a lengthy ‘apprenticeship’ including uncomfortable occasional soakings, appreciating that lightweight equipment wears out quickly! Please consider reproofing anything over two weeks old, replacing “waterproof” gloves before travelling north. Fortunately once you’re up in the snow with good modern kit it’s much easier to stay warm and dry these days.
As long as the Gulf Stream continues to bring warm water up Loch Linnhe glaciers are unlikely to begin forming here in our lifetime: each summer lingering snowpatches add only scenic value to the North Face. Consequently, crevasse rescue, avalanche avoidance and safe travel techniques are practiced in mainland Europe during the summer months, whilst bergshrunds (rimayes) and other crevices offer safe locations for training anytime from February through to June. This absence of glaciers means that West Highland Guides are not required to hold the IFMGA carnet and cannot offer European Alpine courses to you.
All instructors working with you have a passion for the mountains that extends to the Alps and Greater Ranges. Hundreds of clients have progressed with us to succeed in their ambitions following alpine training courses covering transferable mountaineering skills and crevasse rescue techniques in the UK.
If your aspirations extend to summiting four- or eight-thousand metre peaks we will be very happy to direct you to one of our friends based in Kathmandu, Nairobi or Chamonix who all hold the necessary certification, insurance and local knowledge.