Winter Navigation

Based in the Cairngorms, this one day course focuses on improving existing summer navigational skills and weatherproofing them to make your “toolboxes” more robust for the winter environment. Participants must already have some summer navigation ability (such as an Intro to Navigation course with us.) If you have done the Intermediate Navigation Course as well, then all the better, but this is not essential.

Min 2 Max 6

Difficulty: ⛰️🌶️



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Winter presents the added hazards of low light, inclement weather, possible “white-outs”, high winds and uncomfortable temperatures, not to mention the complexities of navigating a safe route through potential avalanche terrain. Therefore, navigating in winter can be a serious affair and consequential if practised incorrectly. Navigating in reduced visibility and cold temperatures means becoming conversant in your techniques with gloves, goggles, etc on. This course will build on your existing skillset, weather-proofing existing techniques and introducing more complex navigation skills than the introductory course, such as boxing in, aiming off and aspect of slope interpretation, with greater emphasis on route selection and interpretation on more complex terrain. We aim not just to show you the processes, but improve your confidence in your own abilities! 

Course Content:

    • Theory introduction – confirmation of participants’ understanding of fundamental navigational techniques such as:

      Use of different map scales 1:25,000 1:50,000 and 1:40,000

    Feature and contour identification

    Orientating a map

    Use of grid references to identify your location

    Bearings grid to  map

    Bearings map to grid

    Compass types - pros and cons

    Role of speed, distance and timing in planning and practical navigation

    Route planning based on weather and avalanche forecast

    • Practical Intermediate-Advanced techniques on the hill

      Weatherproofing our kit and above techniques for winter conditions

    Navigating in avalanche terrain

    Navigating in a “white-out”

    Relocating techniques and strategies


    *We have scheduled our Avalanche Awareness courses around the same time as these, so if you feel there are holes in your knowledge in these areas, you can easily combine both courses into a two day trip. 

    ** We will cover some theory before heading out onto the hill. We will provide all technical equipment such as laminated mapping of various scales and learning resources, but bring a notepad and pen for notes during the theory session. However, as this is a predominantly outdoor, practical day: please dress and equip yourself for a winter day on the hills and bring any food and drink you may need. If you have any questions, please contact me in advance. 

    ***Please also be aware that there is no technical skill instruction element to these courses (ie: use of axe, crampons, etc). If you are not confident in these areas, please be aware that we cover all of the above (navigation, avalanche awareness and technical winter skills) on our Winter Skills Courses: Winter Skills Long Weekend, Winter Skills Week

    ****You will need your own mapcase, compass, winter clothing, boots, crampons and ice axe. (*NB: axe and crampons available for hire from us if required. We also have affiliations with local hire providers)

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