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How to get into Winter Mountaineering

Mountaineering during winter can present challenges like no other pursuit. It will test you both mentally and physically – but the rewards can be breathtaking. The view from the summit, and the sense of achievement you’ll enjoy after having climbed there, are difficult to match. No wonder this activity is more popular than ever!

In this pursuit, the right preparation can often spell the difference between success and failure. Let’s consider a few of the things you’ll need to know before getting started.

Know your route

You’ll want to pick your first route based on your skill level. This, ideally, means picking something extremely forgiving. From there, you can quickly work your way up to more challenging climbs.

Check the weather

Of course, what’s challenging and what isn’t will often depend on the local weather. It’s worth checking the Met Office. But, for the most detailed possible forecasts around a particular summit, it’s actually the Mountain Weather Information Service you should be checking. When the weather appears favourable, it’s time to get going – but don’t push yourself to make a climb in horrible conditions.

Get Equipped

Certain equipment is needed to tackle a mountain. To handle any weather, you'll need layers and a waterproof jacket. But when it comes to equipment, your boots will be the most crucial purchase you make.

Boots come in four basic categories. There are B0 boots, which are flexible and designed primarily for summer walking. There are B1 boots, which are suitable for beginners, but lack the body required for difficult terrain.

The boots appropriate for serious mountaineering are B2 and B3. Both have a high ankle profile, but the latter usually have toe welts for crampons, in addition to the heel welts offered by the former.

What should I carry?

When climbing a mountain, there are a few essential supplies you’ll want to have to hand. These include things like ice axes and crampons for when you’re tackling difficult rock faces, as well as whistles for when you’re stuck and need to attract the attention of your would-be rescuer. 

You’ll also want to pack spare clothes. This is essential if the climb is going to take place over several days. A compass, a watch, a headtorch (or two) and a pair of sunglasses and goggles are all essential, too. Finally, you’ll want to take a mobile phone with you, and a spare battery pack to go with it. Signal can be patchy in certain parts of the UK, but you can still often place a call from the side of a mountain. 


Getting into mountaineering in winter can be tricky. It’s usually best to start by gaining some experience during summer. But if you have a few climbs under your belt, there’s no reason to retire from this activity during the winter – since this is a time of year where the challenges, and the rewards, are most considerable!


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