Winter Gold Expedition 2018


Like the snow? Want to try something different for your expedition? In winter 2018 Aspen Outdoors Ltd is offering an opportunity for Gold participants to take part in winter expedition programme based in the Scottish Cairngorms. The dates for the programme are as follows:

  • Training and Practice Expedition: 19-23 February 2018
  • Qualifying expedition: 12-16 March 2018

What will it be like?

So the big differences with this expedition programme are:

  • It’s happening in the winter time in February and March
  • You’ll be using bothies
  • There will be a big focus on expedition aim activity

Winter in Scotland brings short days, rain, snow and cold, windy weather. That means you’ll need some different equipment and clothing like winter boots, ice axe, salopettes, mittens and ski goggles. It also means learning new skills and knowledge: like kicking steps in snow, building snow shelters and assessing the risks posed by winter weather and snow conditions.

Bothies are open shelters – usually old cottages – in remote parts of Scotland used by walkers and climbers. They don’t have electricity or running water but usually have fireplaces and some simple furniture like sleeping platforms, tables and chairs. Users must use bothies responsibly and follow the ‘bothy code’. Bothies provide a great base for overnight stays in the winter time.

There will be strong focus on expedition aim activity (rather than just journeying). The distances you walk and number of hours of journeying will be closer to the minimum stipulated in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition 20 conditions. A typical day will involve half a day of walking and half a day of expedition aim activity. Examples of expedition aim activity could include:

  • Bothy maintenance
  • Building a snow hole, igloo or quincy.
  • Visiting and recording the condition of howfs and shelters of the Cairngorms (Shelter stone, Fords of Avon Refuge)
  • Recording changing weather conditions (using thermometer, anemometer, precipitation gauge)
  • Recording tracks in the snow left by wildlife.
  • Dig a snow pit to analyse the snow pack.
  • Make a snow sculpture / snow man

Training and Practice Expedition, Braemar and Lochnagar,19-23 February 2018

The base for the training and practice expedition will be Braemar in the Scottish Highlands. Braemar is the coldest inhabited place in the UK and provides an excellent base for winter skills training. In summary this part of the programme will involve:

DAY 1: Travel to Braemar from Glasgow by minibus, PM. Accommodation in hostel in Braemar. Briefing on the expedition week, review of weather and snow conditions; lecture / talk on winter skills and trekking in winter conditions in Scotland.

DAY 2: Training day at Glenshee Ski Area, introduction winter skills. Participants learn about specialist winter clothing and equipment; winter footwork techniques; introduction to crampons and ice axe; bothy bags and snow shelters; risks and hazards of winter environments. Accommodation in hostel in Braemar.

DAY 3: Morning spent packing and preparing for practice expedition. Practice Expedition begins with afternoon walk into Gelder shiel bothy from Crathie / or Glas-alt-shiel from the Spittal of Glenmuick . Overnight stay in the bothy.

DAY 4: Second day of practice expedition – Hike to explore Corrie of Lochnagar and practice winter skills and navigation techniques. Distance travelled and route will depend on weather and snow conditions. Return to bothy and overnight stay.

DAY 5: Third day of the practice expedition – walk out from bothy and return to Braemar to review of practice expedition. Return to Glasgow by minibus.

Qualifying Expedition, Glen Derry,12-16 March 2018

The qualifying expedition will take place in Glen Derry starting from the Linn of Dee. Expedition participants will use bothies as base camps, and from these undertake ‘exploration days’ and expedition activity. 

Examples of ‘exploration days’ undertaken from the bothy bases could include:

  • Walk to Loch Etchachan from Hutcheson’s Memorial Bothy (5km)
  • Walk to a snow hole site from Hutcheson’s Memorial Bothy (5km)
  • Walk to the shelter stone from Hutcheson’s Memorial Bothy return (6km).
  • Walk from to the Fords of Avon Refuge from Hutcheson’s Memorial Bothy return (10km)

Participants will be supported to plan their expedition, deciding upon bothies to use as base camps and deciding what ‘exploration days’ to undertake. An example of a qualifying expedition itinerary could look like this:

DAY 1: Travel from Glasgow to Braemar by minibus PM, picking up specialist equipment from Perth and Braemar. Overnight accommodation at Braemar Youth Hostel. Expedition prep and pre-expedition assessment briefing.

DAY 2: Day 1 of expedition: Hike from Linn of Quoich to Bob Scott’s Bothy. Expedition aim activity: record weather conditions (precipitation, wind speed and temperature) and write a report on the condition of the bothy.

DAY 3: Day 2 of the expedition: Hike from Bob Scott’s Bothy to Hutcheson’s Memorial Bothy. Expedition aim activity: record weather conditions and then go for a walk to study the snow conditions (looking for signs of wind transportation of snow; studying ice crystals, dig a snow pit to look for layers in the snow).

DAY 4: Day 3 of the expedition: Hike around Loch Etchachan returning to Hutcheson’s Memorial Bothy. Expedition aim activity: record the weather and bothy maintenance (with prior agreement from NYS and Mar Estate).

DAY 5: Day 4 of the expedition: Hike back to the Linn of Dee. Expedition aim activity: tidy and clean the bothy and record the weather. Return to Glasgow by minibus.

Expedition Supervision

The expedition would be led by Alastair Ewen, Winter and International Mountain Leader with extensive experience of cold weather and mountainous environments.


If you would like more information on this winter programme please contact Alastair Ewen or Viki Williams:

Alastair Ewen, Director, Email:, Phone: 07427326697

Viki Williams, Duke of Edinburgh’s Development Officer, Glasgow City Council, Email:, Phone: 0141 287 6501