Climbing & mountaineering

Make Me a Mountaineer: Winter Expedition Skills - Full Course

Climbing & mountaineering
Climbing & mountaineering
Climbing & mountaineering
Learn skills
Learn skills
Learn skills

Learn more essential winter mountaineering skills than you can shake an crampon at

Snowshoeing, safety in the winter environment, self-arrest techniques, assessing avalanche hazards, etc.

Beautiful spot, away from the crowds

Pyrenees, France ‍

7 days ‍



Mountain hut and guest house (or hotel)



HASSLE FREE, fully guided


£ 97.00 GBP (Deposit)
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What's Included
Recommended Kit List
Getting There


DAY 1 : Arrive Luchon

Settle into your guest house in beautiful Luchon. You’ll have time to pick up any rental equipment before kicking the trip straight off with an afternoon rock-climbing session, which will allow you to familiarise yourself with the equipment and the basic climbing and abseiling techniques. In the evening there’ll be a full briefing on the days ahead. 

Night in the guest house.

(Dinner included)

DAY 2 : Transfer to Mountains

The mountains are calling! Today we’ll snowshoe up to our mountain hut for the night. We’ll either head up to the Hospice de France, Valle de Benasque or the Vignemale depending on weather conditions, but it’s generally hard to catch these places on a bad day, so expect some excellent views as you learn the art of snow shoeing and avalanche safety. 

Night in a mountain hut.

(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included)

DAY 3 : Technical mountain skills

As you wake up in the middle of the mountains with your steaming cup of coffee, you can look forward to a day of crampon and ice axe training across various terrain. We’ll be building ice anchors and belays, focussing on crevasse rescue, the construction of snow holes and the importance of weather forecasting. 

Night in mountain hut, snow-hole or snow camping.

(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included)

DAY 4 and 5 : Mountain ascent in winter conditions

Today is the first day that we start to consolidate the skills learnt over the previous few days. We’ll take on a small peak, often Le Mulleres (3,010m), the Vignemale (3,298m) or Pico de Aneto (3,404m), all under instructor supervision. Time to put that ice axe knowledge to the test!

Night in mountain hut, snow hole or snow camping.

(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included)

DAY 6 : Return to Luchon

We’ll snowshoe out of the mountains and have a de-brief on how the program has been and what we’ve learnt, before celebrating with an evening meal back in Luchon.

Night in a guest house.

(Breakfast, Lunch included)

DAY 7 : Fly home

Your flight time will probably dictate your plans, but if it’s later in the day, Luchon is a beautiful town to explore - get that last croissant in before you go home!

Transfer to Toulouse Airport.

(Breakfast included)


What Adventurers are Saying

Very good blend of practical experience, technical learning and enjoyment. Thoroughly enjoyed the course.

Neil, Expedition Skills

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I just couldn’t fault either the course content, the organisation or the team that supported it. The week surpassed my expectations and has now cemented my confidence to step up and get stuck into the more challenging expeditions I want to get into. They were superb.

Mark, Expedition Skills

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Learnt so many new skills, with the ability to further practice them. I feel that the skills gained from this course will open up many new trekking and climbing opportunities for me. And the whole course was filled with laughter which is always a good thing!

Sarah, Expedition Skills

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Despite having done other similar courses, I still learned new things. There was a lot of variety, with ice climbing, snowshoeing etc. and it was geared towards what sort of expedition I’d like to undertake in the future i.e. more self-sufficient.

Charlene, Expedition Skills

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Amazing! Learnt lots of great skills in the company of some inspiring women. They are very experienced and ethical as well.

Sarah, Expedition Skills

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An excellent week. Great fun with a lot of learning and good for anybody with a spirit of adventure. Great introduction to the world of expeditions.

Neal, Expedition Skills

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I had an incredible week away with everybody. Thanks to the team. The trip was not only incredibly detailed regarding the information given by our guides, but I also really enjoyed the physical challenge of summiting Aneto on the Wednesday. Came home feeling more intelligent about the environments that we worked in throughout the week and satisfied that I’d worked hard.

Tom, Expedition Skills

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I had an amazing time on this week long Expeditions Skills Course in the Pyrenees. Guides were incredible. I felt very safe and would trust them with my life on any other expedition. The course is great for people that have just got into mountaineering and want to learn the required skills. We learnt so much within a week. I would highly recommend this course to anyone!

Sam, Expedition Skills

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Excellent course. The guides are both legends in their own right, it was great to spend a whole week with them. Listening to their stories and learning the skills we need, to be a Winter Mountaineer!

Jack, Expedition Skills

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I wanted to go on this course with the hope that it would provide me with confidence to go on longer and bigger expeditions. I can honestly say that it surpassed my expectations!! The week was led by the ledgend leader and was jam packed with all the fundamentals needed to go on a big expedition.

Lee, Expedition Skills

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  • Airport transfers to and from Toulouse
  • World class mountaineer as your guide for the whole week
  • Transfers to and from the mountain base
  • SOME technical equipment (ice axe, harness, crampons and snow shoes)
  • Food while on the mountain
  • 2 nights of accommodation based on 2 sharing in a Luchon hotel or guesthouse with breakfast
  • 1 town meal on arrival
  • Mountain accommodation
  • 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor
  • Monthly payment plan, on request


  • Flights
  • Additional kit
  • Insurance
  • Any additional town accommodation due to bad weather
  • Lunch when in town and final dinner
  • Alcohol
  • Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early


Recommended Kit List

  • Day pack - approx 60 - 65L capacity
  • Waterproof rucksack cover
  • Sleeping bag – 3 season (bring a 4 season one if you fancy a night in a snow hole!)
  • Sleeping bag liner - light
  • Full length sleeping mat – if you fancy a night in a snow hole
  • Warm head gear
  • Wide brimmed hat
  • Buff/scarf
  • Sunglasses
  • Ski goggles
  • Sunblock & lip salve
  • Gloves – inner gloves
  • Ski gloves
  • Base layer
  • Mid layer eg fleece
  • Down jacket
  • Waterproofs – jacket and trousers
  • Soft shell windproof jacket
  • Climbing trousers
  • Long johns/thermal leggings
  • Underwear
  • Climbing shoes – if you don’t have these, trainers will suffice for beginner grade climbs
  • 4 season walking boots – crampon compatible
  • Gaiters
  • Warm/ climbing socks
  • Trekking poles with snow baskets
  • Climbing harness (available to borrow)
  • Climbing helmet (available to borrow)
  • 2 Prusik loops or 3 metres of 5mm paracord (Decathlon sell these)
  • 3 screwgate carabiners
  • Sling (80 – 100 cm)
  • Ice axe (available to borrow)
  • Crampons (available to borrow)
  • Snowshoes (available to borrow
  • Water bottle/bladder
  • Basic wash kit and travel towel
  • Alcohol gel
  • Personal first aid kit/medication
  • Head torch
  • Passport
  • Copy of passport
  • Travel insurance


  • Pen knife
  • Snacks - you'll be well fed but bring any additional favourite snacks
  • Camera
  • Plastic mug – handy for outdoor brews!


We haven’t included flights as this gives you options from the UK. There are many flights that come to Toulouse daily from many different airports.

We will be at the airport at midday on day one of the itinerary for pick-up, and on the day you leave we will be dropping the team off at Toulouse airport for midday. Please find flights that work for these timings, or plan to have the night before or after the trip in Toulouse.

If there are any issues with this please let us know and we will also try and help however it might mean getting a hire car/train or taxi to your start / finish point.

Luchon is1h 40 mins drive away from the airport.


Food and Water

Where do we get drinking water from?

All drinking water is from the refuge or can be bought at various stops for the first day’s walking. We pass streams in various places that you can top up from if you should run out, so take purification to add to it in the form of silver chloride or chlorine.

What is the food like in the refuge?

The food in the refuges is plentiful and of very good quality,often using locally sourced ingredients. Breakfasts consist of pastries, fresh bread and jams and you can expect hearty meals in the evenings.

Do you provide snacks during this expedition? Or do you recommend that we bring our own?

We provide some snacks for your days on the mountain, however do bring some of your favourite snacks from home, a range of fast and slow release energy snacks. The pure ‘energy’ style bars which are solid are quite tough to eat on the mountain so go with simple things. Flapjacks, shortbread, sweets, nuts and chocolate are great, snacks that you’re going to really look forward to eating and which will give you energy.


What are the guesthouse and refuge like?

The guesthouse is a comfortable lodge that sleeps 10 to 12 guests.

The Refuge is dormitory style accommodation but each person will have their own bunk bed.

Can you get a hot shower there?

Yes, hot showers are available. There may be a small supplement for hot water.

Health and Safety

What happens if there is an issue on the trek with a client – a fall or an illness?

The leader have conducted detailed risk assessments and put the necessary plans in place to cope with any accidents or illness whilst out on the trek. Our expedition leaders are highly qualified and experienced mountain leaders who hold expedition first aid qualifications and are used to working in remote environments. Their training allows them to deal with situations quickly and safely.

Should someone find themselves requiring further medical attention, the leader will organise for that individual to be taken from the trail and transferred to the nearest hospital. The leader and the office team will also be on hand to offer guidance and support for insurance claims and contacting next-of-kin.

Is there any risk of altitude sickness?

There is minimal risk of altitude sickness on this one.

Is there a minimum age for this trip?

Yes, all our trips are for people of 18 years of age and older.


A kit list will be sent on booking but here's a few guidelines;


Boots should be waterproof with ankle protection and able to take a C1 crampon (the strap on kind). Make sure they're worn in and comfy.


Layers will be key to maintaining an optimum body temperature. A down jacket is ideal or a good quality warm Goretex jacket with layers underneath. We don't provide clothing but very occasionally we get freebies from our sponsors we like to share.

Need a new down jacket? We've done our research into the best women's down jacket.

The Course

How tough is this course?

Just because we’re in Europe and reasonably close to home, doesn’t mean that you’re undertaking a gentle walk in the hills! This is a fairly challenging trek with significant altitude gain and some long days, learning techniques that may be new to you like use of crampons.

What is the course content?

The following is included:

Snowshoeing, Safety in the winter environment, Self arrest techniques, Assessing avalanche hazard, Basic navigation, Ice-axe and crampon work on varying terrain and conditions, Building snow and ice anchors and belays, Moving together over snow and ice. Construction of snow holes and weather forecasting, Basic ice climbing techniques, Ascent of a mountain in winter conditions

A greater understanding of expedition travel will be gained as further skills such as expedition nutrition, clothing and winter camp-craft will be demonstrated on the journey phase of the course.

Is there a quicker way to climb this peak than the one outlined on your itinerary?

Yes there is, we call it the fast and furious. This involves a very long day of both driving and climbing. We leave the guest house at around 3am to arrive at the national park gate at 6am. Then we walk 40 minutes up to the refuge and from there commence the ascent of Aneto peak. We usually summit after a 5 – 6 hr climb and (conditions depending) descend in 3 – 4 hrs. Then its back into the car for a 3 hr drive to the guest house in France. Total time is around 16 to 17 hours.

The Weather

What is the weather like?

During the day temperatures can be warm and can even reach to the mid teens C. In the evening higher up, it could drop to below freezing and with a distinct chill in the air. For early spring or late autumn ascents there can be snow from the refuge up and the temperatures on the summit well below freezing. As you will be trekking in a mountain environment, the weather can rapidly change for the worse so you need to be prepared for all conditions. Even in good weather it is not uncommon to have short heavy downpours or snowstorms


Flights aren’t included. What time should I arrive and depart to Toulouse?

We haven’t included flights as this gives you options from the UK. There are many flights that come to Toulouse daily from many different airports.

For our skills weeks we will be suggesting you get the following flights:

  • EasyJet Gatwick – Toulouse 0840 arriving at 1130
  • EasyJet Toulouse –  Gatwick 1805 arriving at 1900

If these do not suit then all you need to know is that we will be at the airport at midday on day one of the itinerary.

On the day you leave we will be dropping the team off at Toulouse airport for 3 PM.

Please therefore find flights that work for these timings.

If there are any issues with this please let us know and we will also try and help however it might mean in getting a hire car/train or taxi to your start / finish point.

Bagneres de Luchon is 1h 40 mins drive away.


Do I need special travel insurance for the course?

You must carry individual travel insurance to take part in the course. We cannot take you on the mountain without proof of insurance.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.

Your insurance details are requested on the booking form, however this can be arranged at a later date. We will be requesting your insurance details 8 weeks before your departure.

Do I need an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for this expedition?

As the trip is based in France it is also worth having a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as this “gives card holders the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries or Switzerland. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would be to a resident of that country and is provided either at reduced cost or, in many cases, for free.

The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until the card holder returns home. This includes treatment for pre-existing medical conditions.” If you don’t already have one, you can apply for one here and it is free.

Many travel insurers won’t cover your medical costs in the unlikely event that you need medical treatment whilst you are away which could have been covered by an EHIC.


What training do we need to do?

Being trekking fit before coming to the mountain is of great importance not only to maximise your chances of reaching the summit but much more importantly to enhance your overall enjoyment of the expedition: if you are struggling from day one then you will not enjoy the rest of the trip.

Physical preparation does not have to be Herculean: concentrate on cardio vascular exercise during the week by taking short runs when time allows and try to spend at least 2 weekends a month going on good long walks (longer than 6 hrs) carrying a rucksack of around 10kg, and head for the hills.

This kind of regime will not only prepare your body for carrying minor loads but will harden your body against the big days on the mountain itself. In addition it will help break in your boots and get used to your equipment. This will pay dividends when you reach the mountains.


Will I be able to get WIFI along the way?

The refuge doesn’t have WiFi due to its remoteness, but you will be able to get it at the guest house at the start and finish.

Is there mobile reception?

Mobiles tend to work fine once you get to 3,000m but not at the refuge.

Can I charge my camera / phone in the mountains?

The refuge does have electricity so you will be able to plug things in to charge, but depending how busy the refuge is, you might find yourself competing for a socket with other guests.


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Make Me a Mountaineer: Winter Expedition Skills - Full Course

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7 days ‍

ANNUAL leave needed:

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Very good blend of practical experience, technical learning and enjoyment. Thoroughly enjoyed the course.

Neil, Expedition Skills

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Toulouse airport ‍

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Mountain hut and guest house (or hotel)

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£ 97.00 GBP (Deposit)

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Make Me a Mountaineer: Winter Expedition Skills - Full Course



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