Places to Go Mountaineering for Beginners
In many ways, the British Isles are the perfect place to go mountaineering for beginners. Without the complexities of glaciers or high altitudes, the landscapes allow newbie climbers to build up crucial mountaineering skills in preparation for tackling bigger peaks. However, that is something of a disservice to the mountaineering scene in the UK.
Many peaks are stunning climbing locations in their own right. Conquering these summits will be fraught with challenges and it certainly won’t be a walk in the park! Just because these regions make good training grounds does not mean they will be easy. To get your alpine dreams off the ground, here are some of the top places to go mountaineering for beginners.
1 . The Glyderau, Snowdonia
The Glyderau are a set of craggy mountains in North Wales. They sit between the famous hiking regions of Snowdon and the Carneddau, overlooking the Ogwen Valley. The Glyderau have some great locations to go mountaineering for beginners. Perhaps most famous of all is the scrambling summit of Tryfan. This shark-fin peak can be ascended by following a Grade I scramble (a route that has less exposure than the Crib Goch scramble up to Snowdon).
Then there are the ice climbing opportunities in Cwm Idwal or the trad climbing routes on the rock faces of the Glyders. The Glyderau are a great place to go mountaineering for beginners because they are easy to access and there’s a huge variation of climbing grades on offer. This lets newbie mountaineers ease themselves into the sport and build up confidence on the summits.
2 . Glencoe, Fort William
Glencoe is an outdoor hub that attracts anyone attempting mountaineering for beginners. Between Glencoe and Fort William, you’ll find campsites and hiking stores galore. Not to mention the throngs of hikers that descend on this region to complete the long-distance walking trail, the West Highland Way.
Glencoe is an excellent winter location to go mountaineering for beginners. Each year, an estimated 15,000 mountaineers visit this region for climbing and hiking. Scaling Ben Nevis is as testing a climb as any big mountain in the UK, particularly if you follow the Carn Mor Dearg arete. If you’re looking for a new scrambling challenge, try Crowberry Ridge or Curved Ridge on the Buachaille Etive Mòr ridge. If you want to work on your ice climbing to prepare for winter conditions, you can take lessons on the world’s biggest indoor ice wall at Ice Factor, Kinlochleven.
3 . Kinder Scout, Peak District
The Peak District is a brilliant hiking area. Situated above Edale and the Hope Valley, this region is easily accessible by road or train from nearby cities, Manchester and Sheffield. In the winter, the snow-covered plateau will give new mountaineers the chance to battle against cold hiking conditions.
Some of the rocky slopes are perfect proving grounds for ice axe technique and crampon use. In warm weather, the gritstone slabs of Kinder South are excellent for rock climbing and bouldering. Kinder Scout is also a perfect place to try your hand at wild camping where you can get used to sleeping in winter conditions. On the opposite side of the valley, you have Mam Tor and Lose Hill, an ideal ridge for traversing when mountaineering for beginners.
4 . Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons
Pen y Fan is the highest mountain in south Wales. It’s also a great place to go mountaineering for beginners. Taking the direct route to the summit from the car park isn’t much of a challenge. However, if you climb the horseshoe route along the ridge and bag Corn Du (873 metres), Cribyn (795 metres), and Fan y Big (719 metres) you’re going to have a mountaineering adventure on your hands.
In the winter, snow and ice often cloak this mountain giving you the chance to work on your cold-weather trekking skills. Pen y Fan is also a good place to work on your navigation – a valuable mountaineering skill. Pen y Fan is another mountain with useful access points. For example, there’s the nearby YHA Brecon Beacons, a bunkhouse where you can meet other climbers and get involved with the mountaineering community, and plenty more campsites in the surrounding area.
5 . Scafell Pike, Lake District
Scafell Pike is the most prominent peak in the Lake District National Park. Despite its high footfall, this is not a summit to be trifled with, particularly in bad conditions. Climbing to the summit is a testing mountaineering experience for beginners. If you head up Mickledore ridge, there’s a difficult scramble up Broad Strand to reach the summit. A challenging but doable route for novice hikers – but only in good weather!
Alternatively, there’s the Scafell Pike Corridor Route. A rocky walk in the summer that verges on a Grade I scramble in winter conditions. Adjacent to Scafell Pike, you have the hulking summit of Great End (910 metres). It is an imposing climb but one that will truly get the adrenaline pumping for new mountaineers.
In cold weather, the gullies of Great End freeze to a wall of ice making it one of the best places to go mountaineering for beginners. Ice climbing is a valuable skill for mountaineers and taking lessons at Great Gable could advance your alpine skills drastically.
When you are searching for top places to go mountaineering for beginners, be conscious of the fact that you must walk before you can run. Even if you’re an experienced hiker, don’t jump right into an Aonach Eagach ascent in the dead of winter. Get familiar with climbing these routes in the summer when the weather is fair.
Focus on rock climbing and exposed ridge scrambles when there’s no snow or foul conditions to contend with. Then, when the weather turns, look for places to go mountaineering for beginners with hiking trails. Test yourself on these routes in cold conditions when there is a suitable safety net to support you if anything goes wrong. By following these small steps, you will grow into mountaineering over time and become a better alpinist as a result.