Image of snowy mountains in the sun

Winter Climbing Guide: Kit Essentials

Want to enjoy the frosty mornings we'll see over the next few months? Add these safety staples to your winter climbing kit with this guide from Decathlon. 

Winter climbing, also known as alpine climbing, comes with epic sights and the cold to boost, which means you’ll need to stock up on a few extra essentials. Check out what you need to ensure a safe, warm and comfortable climb on your next adventure. 

Training for Winter Climbing

Winter climbing is an exhilarating and challenging sport, popular amongst adrenaline junkies looking to level up their mountaineering skills. Designed to test your physical and mental strength against the harsh conditions of icy mountains and freezing temperatures, there are some prerequisites you should meet before setting off this winter.

With the unpredictable weather, avalanches, and steep, icy slopes pose, you’ll need to possess advanced mountaineering skills, experience climbing in normal conditions as well as a good sense of judgment to stay safe and make informed decisions during your ascent.

Before going winter climbing, make sure to learn:

• Using an ice axe and crampons for approaching climbs
• Rope work, including typing into multi-point anchors
• Different climbing techniques for ice and mixed ground
•Avalanche awareness and safety procedures training

You should also work on getting your fitness level up; summer rock climbing, as well as winter hill walking are great ways to prep for your first winter climbing and train the right muscle groups.

UK Climbing Winter Conditions

Winter climbing in the UK offers an exhilarating challenge for adventurous climbers seeking to test their skills and endurance. The UK is full of rugged terrain with the added hurdle of unpredictable weather making for a unique climbing opportunity during the winter months. Whether it’s the stunning peaks of Scotland's Cairngorms or the snow-covered mountains of Snowdonia in Wales, you’ll find scenery worth the climb.

The UK climbing winter conditions vary a lot, ranging from mild and damp to extreme and icy. The best conditions are usually between December and March when snow and ice are more prevalent. Make sure to stay updated on weather forecasts and avalanche conditions to keep on top of the changing conditions.

Ben Nevis is one of the sought-after UK climbing spots – the highest peak in the British Isles, coming with challenging ice and mixed climbing routes. You can also venture to the Lake District and the Peak District for winter ascents, offering icy crags and frozen waterfalls.

Winter mountain climbing

Winter Climbing Grades

Before embarking on your winter climbing journey, it is essential to understand the grading system. Winter climbing grades indicate the difficulty level of a climb. This takes into account:

• Steepness
• Overall danger
• Degree of ice coating
• Mixed routing

In Scotland, the Scottish winter climbing grading system is commonly used, which ranges from I (easiest) to XI (most difficult). The term "tech" is also used to denote technical difficulty. It's important to choose climbs that match your skill level and experience.

Winter Climbing Equipment

Whether you're a seasoned climber or a novice new to the world of climbing, getting the right gear is essential for safety, comfort and success. Get the following winter climbing equipment below. 

Climbing clothing

1. Climbing Clothing

When it comes to winter climbing clothing, layering is key. A moisture-wicking base layer will help regulate body temperature and keep you dry. A mid-layer fleece or synthetic insulation provides warmth, while a waterproof and breathable outer shell protects against wind, snow, and rain. Decathlon offers a wide range of technical mountaineering clothing designed specifically for winter climbing, ensuring comfort and performance.

Climbing boots

2. Climbing Boots

Sturdy and insulated climbing boots are essential to tackle icy slopes and provide grip on slippery surfaces. Look for boots with crampon compatibility and a waterproof membrane to keep your feet dry and protected. Decathlon offers a variety of winter climbing boots suitable for different terrains and conditions.


3. Crampons

Crampons are metal spikes that attach to your boots, providing traction on icy surfaces. They come in various styles, from general mountaineering to technical ice climbing. Consider the type of terrain you will be climbing and choose crampons accordingly. Decathlon offers a range of crampons suitable for different skill levels and climbing styles.

Ice axes

4. Ice Axes

Ice axes are essential tools for winter climbing, providing stability and allowing you to self-arrest in case of a slip. Look for axes with a comfortable grip and a durable pick. Decathlon offers a selection of ice axes suitable for both beginners and experienced climbers.

climbing helmet

5. Helmet

A climbing helmet is vital to protect your head from falling ice, rock, or other hazards. Ensure the helmet fits securely and comfortably. Decathlon provides helmets that meet safety standards and offer excellent protection without compromising on comfort.


6. Harness and Belay Devices

A well-fitted harness is crucial for safety during winter climbing. It should be adjustable, comfortable, and compatible with wearing additional layers. Belay devices are used for rope management and are an essential part of your winter climbing kit. Decathlon offers a range of harnesses and belay devices suitable for winter climbing.

Climbing rope

7. Ropes

Choosing the right ropes is crucial for winter climbing. Dynamic ropes are commonly used for their ability to absorb the impact of falls. Consider the length and diameter suitable for your climbs. Decathlon provides a variety of ropes designed for different climbing scenarios.

Other Essentials

Other essential items for winter climbing include headlamps, insulated gloves, goggles, balaclavas, and a first aid kit. These items ensure safety, comfort, and protection from the harsh winter conditions. Decathlon offers a comprehensive range of accessories to complement your winter climbing kit.

Climbing Equipment 

Decathlon offers a wide selection of winter climbing essentials, from clothing and boots to technical tools and accessories. By investing in high-quality gear, you can embrace the thrill of winter climbing while staying protected in the harshest of conditions. So gear up, prepare yourself, and embark on an unforgettable winter climbing adventure with Decathlon as your trusted partner.

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