Types of Tour

This page describes our ski touring programmes and sets out some of the principles of the club’s safety culture. In particular, it aims to set out the differences in leadership style and levels of responsibility between guided and unguided touring. 

Ski touring programme

Our club runs an extensive ski touring programme in Scotland, the Alps and further afield. These tours can range from informal meets to instructional courses, and from day tours or hut to hut tours to ski mountaineering expeditions to remote ranges. The programme is usually published in late August or early September each year, and includes:

Trips led by professional guides and instructors

About a half of the tours are led by professional guides or instructors, who have relevant professional qualifications and charge participants a fee for their services. They will organise the tour and take overall responsibility for route planning and decision-making on the tour. These trips are usually instructional courses, day trips from a valley base or hut-to-hut tours.

Trips organised by club members

The remaining tours are organised by experienced club members, many of whom have been through our Leader Development Programme. These trips operate on the principle of "participative leadership", involving self-responsibility in risk management, a collaborative ethos of consensus-building, good group communication, teamwork and working together. A key role of the experienced club “leader” is to facilitate a group decision-making process in which all members of the group are expected to participate

These trips are usually day trips from valley or mountain bases, and hut-to-hut tours, but we also hold club meets where lots of members come together and organise themselves into groups. You can find the programme here: Club Tours & Meets

Scottish meets

We also organise a full Scottish meets programme, which usually has about 15 trips each winter ranging from training courses to self-catering weekends and the occasional camping or campervan trip. Most of the meets are organised by club members and operate on the principle of "participative leadership". This involves self-responsibility in risk management, a collaborative ethos of consensus-building, good group communication, teamwork and working together. You can find the programme here: Scottish Meets

Please note that our club is not a “tour operator” and it isn’t party to the financial arrangements between members and the providers of tours or courses. Members taking part in any of the tours on the programme should be aware that the relationship is solely between themselves and the tour organiser - not the club.

Choosing the right tour

We have a wide range of skills, experience, levels of confidence and aspirations amongst our 1500 members. This is why it is very important to match your own skills and aspirations with the right tour or meet. To help choose an appropriate tour consider:

  • Self-assessing your fitness and technical skills using our tour grading system.
  • We don't set any technical requirements for joining the club and instead uses a system of references to help match ability and aspiration on club tours. New members should not feel hindered by lack of references but should speak to the tour organiser.
  • Members should be mindful of the inherent risks of ski touring and ski mountaineering and, whether guided or unguided, choose tours that match their level of comfort and experience in risk assessment and management.
  • If you’re a new member, consider going on a club meet or a Scottish meet to get to know the club and some of its members.
  • If you have not done much ski touring, you may wish to develop your skills by going on an instructional or guide-led trip. The club encourages all members to develop their skills and experience, and offers a range of training courses both in the UK and abroad. Some courses are directly subsidised by the club, while Awards are available (mainly targeting members under 35), to cover some of the costs of other courses.
  • For experienced independent tourers wishing to develop leadership skills for the club’s unguided tours, we also offer mentoring in a Leader Development Programme.

Tour Grading System

All tours are graded in order to indicate the skills and level of fitness needed to participate in the tour. These are split into the three categories of Effort, Skiing Technique and Mountaineering Skills using a scale of 1 to 5 e.g. a fairly normal hut to hut tour might be graded E2 S2 M2.

Full details of the Tour Grading System are provided here.

Member-to-Member activities

We also encourage our members to organise their own activities with other members, including ski tours and meet ups between confident, independent ski tourers.  Club members taking a lead at organising these activities must outline their touring and leadership experience on their club profile and facilitate a mutual assessment process, so that other members can discuss risk management and leadership as a group. Visit our member organised activities page to find out more.


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Creating a Member Profile14.83 KB 14.83 KB
ESC Member to Member Meet guidance164.14 KB 164.14 KB