Good morning to you,
I was recently lucky enough to receive a couple of refunds from canceled holidays. My partner has kindly suggested that I spend the money on a course that I would like to do, and we stick to tent based accommodation for future holidays.
I have been looking at the five-day mountaineering courses offered by both Plas Y Brenin and Glenmore Lodge.
A keen (though not very talented) climber and walker, my winter experience is limited to a couple of seasons in Snowdonia.
I was very lucky though that my far more knowledgeable and cultured friend and climbing partner was there to show me the basics of movement in crampons, use of ice axe, avalanche awareness etc. I would like to consolidate and build upon these skills so that I have greater confidence in going out with others of a similar experience or solo in winter conditions. I'm a great believer in just doing it, and intend to head to more northerly places as soon as the snow falls and the government permits, but I feel a structured learning environment would be the best place to cement and develop my winter mountaineering skills.
Forgive the long introduction, I wanted to provide some background. I've been looking at these two courses:
Plas Y Brenin: 5 Day Scottish Winter Mountaineering
Ratio 1:4 - Cost £1400
Glenmore Lodge: 5 Day Winter Mountaineering
Ratio 1:4 - Cost £725 with accommodation
Both courses seem to cover the same learning terrain, both include evening lectures - breakfast and dinner, accommodation.
So my questions are:
1. What am I missing? What is it that makes the PYB course nearly twice as expensive?
2. Does anyone have any personal experience of either course or similar, that they would be willing to share?
> 1. What am I missing? What is it that makes the PYB course nearly twice as expensive?
Possibly the rarity value of the snow in Snowdonia?
The PyB course looks to be based out of a hotel while Glenmore Lodge will probably be based in their bunkhouse.
As Spenser said PyB is hotel based as opposed to Bunkhouse
. Good luck with it
Oh I very much agree, for the next month or so at least I'd think. Think of this more as research into a future trip should the Covid situation permit it.
Ah well spotted. That's probably it then isn't it. Thanks for the input.
Describing Glenmore Lodge’s accommodation as “bunkhouse” style does it a bit of a disservice, it’s pretty plush!
I'd imagine the tuition would basically be the same; both employ both BMGs and MICs, so the choice comes down to preferred location (PyB used to be out west), and the bits and pieces that are around the learning itself. I would imagine both have a few rubbish instructors, so that aspect would be luck of the draw (unfortunately!). Given PyB is double the price, I'm not sure you'll get double the instruction! (from memory, PyB recently lost quite a bit of subsidy from the government, while the Sports Scotland has kept theirs up, so this is possible also part of the cost difference).
Can't talk for PyB directly, but my wife and I have done both 1 week, Winter Skills and Winter Mountaineering at Glenmore (back to back, it was our honeymoon!), and loved it. As well as excellent tuition (obviously the most important thing), the lodge had a great buzz about it, food was excellent, lots of like minded people about, rooms good etc. Also worth nothing that at Glenmore there is a lot for the evenings as well as lectures. There is a climbing wall, gym and think sauna.
Depending on how you want to travel you might find the lodge is more suited as lots of people take the train there (they'll pick you up from the station etc, no driving required while there)
As you'd be going by yourself, I'd go for the lodge, as there was many more people will be around (assuming some semi balance post covid!).
Oh one other thing, Glenmore lodge have a huge supply of kit that you can borrow while on courses, to try different things out.
Thank you ever so much for such a detailed reply. What a fantastic thing to do for a honeymoon!
You make good points about the lodge and the atmosphere, certainly would be an added bonus as a solo participant.
I've been on winter & summer with both providers and personally felt that it really boils down to how you relate to the instructors. Very much an individual thing. Both, all things considered are equally good at the courses they provide. Most PyB winer courses are based in Scotland.
Hope that helps.
Cheers Sean, much appreciated
Glenmore Lodge doesn't have a bunkhouse.
As far as I know, the accommodation will be in single occupancy rooms
The course is in Scotland.....
Glenmore Lodge doesn't have a Bunkhouse
The accommodation is in single occupancy rooms
What happens if you book a winter course with PyB and there isn't any winter, do you get a refund?
> Glenmore Lodge doesn't have a Bunkhouse
> The accommodation is in single occupancy rooms
Its more likely to be twin rooms. It certainly was when I did my mountain leader training and assessment. I was impressed by the quality of the refurbished accommodation and the food was excellent. There is also a decent bar up stairs in the Lodge.
> Its more likely to be twin rooms. It certainly was when I did my mountain leader training and assessment. I was impressed by the quality of the refurbished accommodation
Ah, sounds like it has been upgraded somewhat since I last stayed there in...well, around the turn of the millennium, I think. It was definitely twin rooms in those days, with a communal shower & toilet block which, in winter, was ffffreezing cold. I wouldn't mind sharing a room again if they've made the ablution facilities a bit more comfortable.
Normally it would be but this year afaik its all single occupancy rooms unless you come as 2 from the same household- Covid.
Glenmore are brilliant. The accomodation is pretty good although you do share the room although you can pay a bit extra to have a single room, I'd say it's similar to a budget chain hotel.
The instructors are very knowledgeable and I thought my course (2 day winter skills) was excellent and pretty good value.
One thing worth noting is that when I booked Glenmore were stated they would not run the course if there was no snow, PYB told me that the course would be run regardless and we'd be pretending that it was snowing. They alone made me choose Glenmore.
> One thing worth noting is that when I booked Glenmore were stated they would not run the course if there was no snow, PYB told me that the course would be run regardless and we'd be pretending that it was snowing. They alone made me choose Glenmore.
When I did a Glenmore spring run off kayak Couse years back there was sod all water in the rivers and they refused a refund and went ahead with what we had. So we did a day trip on the Spean Gorge and a full day trip on the Garry play section, which I think is only a mile or do long. Bit rubbish really. Quite a few on the course sacked it off and went skiing/ boarding for a couple of days instead. ( I did)
That's Scotland for you.....
Thanks a lot for the advice all, much appreciated and great to hear about some personal experiences.
Its single rooms due to Covid
Its single rooms due to Covid
It is indeed single rooms due to Covid
Its single rooms due to Covid
Having done the Jagged Globe course last year, I would recommend it as an alternative to the PyB and Glenmore options.
Course and staff excellent. Accommodation and food all in the price which was really good, adverts this year are for single occupancy rooms as standard too.
Going back to the original question I’d go with Glenmore Lodge, personally, cheaper, great mountain lodge atmosphere ( plus good bar!) and great tuition.
I think the price difference is due to the amount of cake the Brenin serve at 4pm, on the dot, that you’ll be sprinting down the hill to get to the front of the queue for 😉
I suspect most of the price difference is based on Glenmore Lodge using their own accommodation and being subsidised by Sport Scotland. I would imagine the quality of tuition is broadly similar with both.
I can't speak for PyB, but I've done a couple of courses and events at Glenmore and always had a good time. As others have said, the atmosphere there is fantastic, which is a particular bonus if you are going alone. The bar is good and the food is plentiful, they often run lectures or videos in the evenings, and their kit is good quality.
They described their accommodation as "bunkhouse style" but I think whoever said it is like a budget hotel put it best. Rooms are simple but warm and have an ensuite shower room and toilet. They are usually double-occupancy unless you pay a supplement, but for now single is standard due to Covid.
Fantastic, thank you. Cheers everyone who replied some very good points in there.
> I suspect most of the price difference is based on Glenmore Lodge using their own accommodation and being subsidised by Sport Scotland. I would imagine the quality of tuition is broadly similar with both.
PyB are owned by Sport England, so I assume they are subsidised too.
> PyB are owned by Sport England, so I assume they are subsidised too.
I believe this funding was cut quite heavily though - someone else above said they thought the same thing. Having said that, I can't remember where I got that information from and the only information I can find now is about cuts to National Governing Bodies so maybe I misremembered...
I did the Winter Mountaineering course at Glenmore back a few years ago and it was great a fantastic experience and taught me a lot. They offer a great service.
Another option would be to go with a partner get an 2-1 course with a guide. This was the option me and partner opted for the teach him winter mountaineering/climbing skills and to give me a refresher. The tuition was tailored and lot faster paced than the Glenmore courses e.g. on the Glenmore lodge we did a day of rope work which as climber you know already.
There are less options for grade 2 terrain in the Cairngorns so we did it on the West Coast so we were able to really consolidate what we'd learnt from the few days of tuition. We did Ledge Route, Dorsal Arete etc, our guide was able to give practical suggestions of routes suiting our experience level and the conditions (it was a magical stable week).
> I think the price difference is due to the amount of cake the Brenin serve at 4pm, on the dot, that you’ll be sprinting down the hill to get to the front of the queue for 😉
-not wanting to compete but I seem to remember the Glenmore Lodge kitchen works to an energy budget of 5000 calories a day. Plenty of cake there too but don’t remember if it was at 4pm or not.....
Thanks Hannah, cheers for the detailed reply, that's a really good suggestion. Now, to find an interested friend...
I did my winter climbing at the Glenmore. Heated floors, luxury food, great kit if you need it and ended up making a great friend with the random I was paired with. The instructors are often contractors, ours was an instructor based in Bamford who had learn his skills there years ago and now sells his services to them.
Have you looked at other services? If accomodation and food isn't an issue there are plenty of operators working at a high standard. Kirkhope Mountaineering runs the Facebook conditions page, I've heard good things about what they do.
This Winter Conditions page gives a summary of what is being climbed at the moment, what is 'in' nick and what the prospects are...
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