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Mountaineering In The Highlands

Are you looking for a more challenging form of hiking in the Scottish Highlands?  Look no further—mountaineering is the sport for you.  Scotland’s rugged Highland mountains may not be the highest in the world, but they are spectacularly beautiful and present quite a challenge for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy skiing, hiking, hillwalking, and mountaineering.  Mountaineering in the Scottish Highland mountains will be one of the most fantastic adventures you have ever had in the most magnificent of surroundings.  Imagine being able to conquer the likes of Ben Nevis, Ben Lomond, Ben Bhraggie, Suilven and Canisp.  You can when you go mountaineering.  See some of the most fabulous vistas anywhere in the world from the top of the Scottish Highlands.

Mountaineering is essentially the sport of mountain climbing.  It is sometimes referred to as alpinism.  Mountaineering is one of the toughest and most challenging outdoor activities, but it is also one of the most rewarding.  It is unsurpassed as a form of exercise combined with nature exploration, wildlife watching, and even relaxation.  Strenuous it is, but refreshing and rejuvenating as well.  Mountaineering will offer you challenges and rewards unlike anything you can find in other forms of outdoor activities and sports.  The view from the top is motivation enough for most mountaineering enthusiasts.  There are basically three forms of mountaineering:  rock climbing, snow and ice climbing (which is the most dangerous form), and mixed climbing.  All three are practiced in the Scottish Highlands.  Mountaineering will use techniques of hiking, scrambling, rock climbing, rappelling, and in some instances, skiing.

Mountaineering brings with it inherent dangers and challenges.  It is true that accidents and injuries happen on a fairly regular basis.  However, with adequate preparation and training, you can enjoy a safe and spectacular climb.  Mountaineering requires you to be in good physical condition, as your body will be taxed both by strenuous exercise and altitude.  Cycling and swimming are excellent activities to increase your fitness level for mountaineering.  It is advisable that you go mountaineering in groups, and preferably with an experienced guide.  Mountaineering requires training, and it also improves with experience, which can be the best teacher in this case.  Always remember the weather conditions of the Scottish Highlands.  They are widely varied and changeable.  There is no way to accurately gauge the weather beforehand, although it is recommended that you check weather forecasting services before heading out.  Other than that, be prepared for wind, wet, and cold.

A fair amount of equipment is required for most mountaineering.  It is wise to check with any outdoor or mountaineering centre beforehand to see if they either provide or rent the necessary kit.  At the least, you will need proper rock shoes and / or mountain boots, a helmet, a harness, crampons, and a rucksack.  Of course, you will need the basics like a good map, compass, whistle, and first aid kit.  You may also require chalk, tape for your hands, and protective clothing.  Preparedness is essential in the sport of mountaineering, so it is not advisable to skimp.

Throughout the Scottish Highlands, there are centres which will provide training courses in mountaineering.  This is not a one-day sport or activity.  Mountaineering requires skill and technique, and is something which is learnt over time, with practice.  West Coast Mountain Guides out of Fort William offer all kinds of courses in mountaineering from beginner to advanced.  Generally, it is best to begin learning to mountaineer in the summer.  For this, check out the beginner rock climbing courses at West Coast Mountain Guides and other centres.  From here you can progress into scrambling courses, safety weekends, and Munro bagging.  If you discover that mountaineering is for you, think about trying out some winter mountain courses.  These will include special safety courses, mountaineering weekends, and winter climbing. 

Mountain Sports are very popular in the Lochaber area.  A number of providers offer a wide variety of mountaineering courses and challenges, as well.  Everything from climbing to mountain safety, Munro bagging and ski mountaineering is available in this area.  In particular, check out Snowgoose Mountain Centre, Wild Adventure, and Abacus Mountaineering.  Abacus runs summer mountaineering courses from May through October, and you may even wind up on Ben Nevis!  Try scrambling, rock climbing, and hill walking on the Munros.  These all prepare you for longer treks at higher altitudes.  Wild Adventure offers guided mountaineering trips with the coaching of an experienced leader.  Snowgoose Mountain Centre offers summer and winter mountaineering courses, including mountain safety, expeditions, and private guiding.  Highland Mountaineering, also in Fort William, runs summer and winter courses at all skill levels.  For something a little less daunting, Tarmachan Mountaineering runs guided days out, to give you a taste of mountaineering, which will be suited to your particular skill level. 

When you are looking for mountaineering opportunities in the Scottish Highlands, remember that most activities will be offered as courses, many lasting longer than one day.  Mountaineering is a highly-skilled sport and safety is paramount.  Choose a good guide or mountaineering outfit to get you up on the mountains of the Highlands.  Mountaineering is challenging for beginners and experts alike, and the many varieties of courses and skill levels illustrate that.  You will never be at a loss for new horizons and broader challenges when you take up mountaineering.  You may surprise yourself at just how much you are able to tackle and conquer when you take up the sport of mountaineering.  Book a course today at one of the many Scottish Highlands mountaineering centres and go for the top!