There are several organisations offering subsidised places on mountaineering courses for young people and members of university hillwalking and mountaineering clubs, thus making valuable training available at an affordable price.

The exact range of courses on offer various from year to year but this page lists some of those which club members have mose frequently attended in recent years. Remember you can also find out a lot about these courses by having a chat with committee members and other experienced club members – many of us have attended one or more of them and and so can offer a bit of insight and advice.

Mountaineering Council of Scotland – Mountain Safety and Skills Courses

The MCoS Winter Skills Course held in February/March each year is a weekend course for Scottish student mountaineering clubs which focuses on winter hillwalking and mountaineering skills. It is usually based at Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms. The course is heavily subsidised by the MCoS and is therefore offered at a bargain price of around £30 to club members – which includes two nights full board accommodation and two days of instruction. As this course is specifically for scottish university clubs there are usually a few places available every year to the Rucksack Club. If you are unable to get onto this course the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust offers a very similar course (listed below).

The MCofS Safety and Good Practice Seminar held in November each year is a weekend course for Scottish student mountaineering clubs which includes some mountaineering skills training as well as important lectures on a variety of topics. This event is extremely valuable for anyone who is (or is interested in becoming) a committee member as it covers a lot of relevant topics, but is equally valuable for anyone keen to learn more about mountaineering skills and mountain safety.

Details of the MCoS courses are sent out by the committee each year via the club’s announcements forum.

Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust – Mountaineering Courses

These are probably the most well-known subsised mountaineering courses nationally. They run every year and are organised by the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) with funding from the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust. There are three types of course, although all three types do not necessarily always run every year:

Mountain Skills Workshops (1 day)
Based in the Lake District in England (usually in early February), these 1 day courses focus on topics such as navigation, ropework, use of equipment, and avalanche assessment.
Scottish Winter Mountaineering Courses (2 days)
Winter mountaineering requires a unique set of skills (generally involving spiky things). These courses cover the skills needed to stay safe in the Scottish mountains in winter. A lot of our members have attended and have found it a very valuable experience. Based in the Cairngorms (usually in January), the Scottish Winter 2-day courses typically cover use of ice axe and crampons, navigation, avalanche assessment, and some snow belays.
Alpine Courses (3 days)
Moving from the Scottish mountains on to the Alps and the Greater Ranges presents additional dangers (altitude, rockfalls, glacier crevasses etc.) The Alpine course provides traning in the skills necessary to manage these dangers. Based in Chamonix, France (usually in June, July and August), the Alpine 3-day courses provide an introduction to Alpine Mountaineering skills – typically Glacier travel, Crevasse rescue, Ropework, Alpine safety awareness and use of equipment.
Contact the BMC for details of the Conville courses.

Ancrum Outdoor Centre

Based in Dundee, the Ancrum Outdoor Centre offers a wide range of courses, including navigation and winter safety, and are highly recommended. For details visit the Ancrum website here.

Other Subsidised Courses

The Plas y Brenin Outdoor Centre in Wales runs mountaineering and climbing courses in the UK and abroad. Each year there are bursaries and awards which provide subsidised places on some of their courses. The details vary from year to year so check their website for current information. If there doesn’t seem to be much information on their website when you look then it is worth contacting them, because these places are well worth applying for.

  • In 2006 the Benjamin Brabner Bursary Fund provided subsidised places on the Alpine Apprenticeship course (an excellent 5-day Alpine Training Course in the Swiss Alps).
  • In 2007 and again in 2008 this bursary offered subsided places on an Essential Alpine Skills course (a mountaineering course in Wales focusing on techniques for Alpine Mountaineering) and also some places on a Ski Touring course based in the Alps (though even with the subsidy this particular course remains relatively expensive).
  • Also in 2008 the Godfrey Jackson Memorial Award provided 8 subsidised places on the Alpine Apprenticeship course and another 8 places on their Scottish Winter Mountaineering Course
  • Additionally, the Gerald Harris Memorial Trust is in 2008 providing subsidised places on Mountain Leader Training or Walking Group Leader Training courses.

Refer to the Plas y Brenin website for details of these and other awards and bursaries.

Non-Subsided Courses

In addition to the subsidised courses mentioned above, outdoor centres such as Glenmore Lodge in Scotland and Plas y Brenin in Wales operate a wide range of other courses (for details see their websites).