10 In A Weekend | Getting The Lowdown On An Extremely Scottish Ski Mission

The ultimate plan to hike, ski and showcase the UK's highest mountains made real

In April 2022, filmmaker George Treble set out to capture an epic undertaking by British Backcountry’s Blair Aitken and Gavin Carruthers. Their plan? To hike, ride and showcase the 10 highest mountains in the UK, all in a weekend. Taking on some of Scotland’s most famous summits and lesser-known ski descents in all kinds of weather, the filming turned out to be just as challenging as the ski mountaineering. We caught up with George about the making of 10 in a Weekend, and to find out more about this unique mission.

Who had the idea to ski all 10 peaks in a weekend? 

Blair Aitken and Gavin Carruthers, both mountain leaders and ski instructors who run British Backcountry courses. The group also has a Facebook Group with over 12 thousand people talking about backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the UK and abroad. I got to know them through lots of interactions over the past five years. They just called me up one day with this challenge that they wanted to do and film, and I didn’t even think twice.

Has it been done before?

It was a skier’s objective. To our knowledge, it’s never been done by skiers. Trail runners have, but not skiers. The idea was to summit all 10 peaks and ski an interesting descent off each one over the course of a long weekend (three days), including Ben Nevis in the Cairngorms. 

“To our knowledge, it’s never been done by skiers. Trail runners have, but not skiers”

Why in one weekend?

Blair and Gavin are both teachers; Blair is an Outdoor Instructor, and Gavin’s a math teacher. Being able to get the challenge done in a weekend and be back to work on Monday morning was the goal because it can appeal to people who only have a weekend free. We wanted to inspire people to enjoy Scottish skiing —even if they’ve only got a weekend. The ski industry in Scotland is small but there are really some amazing adventures out there to be had. The ski touring is awesome.

How did you find the challenge?

To be honest, I didn’t understand the scale of what we were doing. As a filmmaker, I thought I could cut corners and be on the other side of the valley while they were summiting some peaks. In reality, I had to do the route whilst carrying all my ski touring and filming gear.

Why Scotland, and why April? Were you worried about the snow?

The appeal of Scottish skiing is its approach and adventure. It’s not easy. There are usually long approaches before you get to the snow line. Spring is generally when the weather is most stable but, as everyone knows, Scottish weather can be brutal! We got pretty lucky overall, for Friday and Saturday, there were hardly any clouds in the sky. The biggest obstacle was the snow—there was just about enough.

“It lived up to my expectations and more. Ben Nevis is even better than I expected”

How long does the backcountry ski season usually run in Scotland?

It changes from season to season. It’s not uncommon to ski lines in May or June. But it’s equally getting harder to find good spring snow because of climate change. It hadn’t snowed in weeks when we did the challenge.

How was the skiing?

It was entirely Spring corn skiing—so fun, honestly! Some of it was steep and narrow, where you have to ski technically, and some were wide open faces where you can ski fast and big turns. Despite it being lean snow conditions, we still had some delightful descents. Ben Nevis has a load of north-facing steeps, and the east faces were still pretty loaded.

Who planned the route? What tools did you use?

To be honest, the guys know it off by heart. They knew the route from skiing in Scotland forever but designed a variation that would include fun and challenging ski descents. The 4000fters day that we did on the Friday is a super well-known Scottish day out (one not for the faint-hearted). I used FATMAP to visualize what they were going to do and ski to make a plan for filming. It’s actually so cool how you can see the shape and contours of the mountains from different angles with the 3D mapping tools.

Did you sleep much?

Not much! Saturday was a 13/14 hour day, and then we had about two hours of sleep before the 16+ hour day on Sunday. I was definitely done by the end.

What was the hardest moment?

Hands down, it was going up Càrn Mòr Dearg, the mountain opposite Ben Nevis. There’s no path, so you’re going straight up the fall line, scrambling up loose rocks. The boot pack was savage, literally straight up with super heavy bags. 

Ben Macdui was another giant ascent that included a barefoot river crossing for good measure. Towards the end of the weekend, when we were already losing energy, on Sunday afternoon, we had to go to the very bottom of the valley, cross the river, and back up the other side again. Brutal.

“It’s this super steep and narrow couloir, with extreme exposure at the top”

What was the most challenging ski descent? 

Blair’s most challenging moment would be the Angel’s Peak face on Sunday. It’s this super steep and narrow couloir, with extreme exposure at the top. He skied it last year, and it’s a prized objective that would look incredible on film. You think, is this Scotland? It’s an incredible face.

Unfortunately, there was cloud on the ridge and we intermittently couldn’t see anything. The last time he did it in more favourable ski conditions, but definitely needed a rope this time and we only had 30m of rope. The top was a serious “no fall zone”, and the rope just wasn’t long enough for a safe entry. That was definitely the most challenging ski descent that we didn’t manage to bag on the weekend, but that leaves the goal open to be ticked off another time!

What was the most fulfilling part of the trip?

Finishing it alive. It was an absolute suffer-fest! It got dark while we were finishing the final day, so we had to take the safer route down. The overall 7000m ascent is this huge obstacle in your mind, you know it’s going to hurt. But towards the end, you think, wow we’re actually going to pull this off. I think that’s one of the special things about Scotland. You know, places where the conditions are inconsistent somehow produce more stoke. Scottish skiers have a fickle but more rewarding winter I’d say!

This was your first ski trip to Scotland, did it exceed your expectations?

I was blown away by the amazing Scottish terrain. From skiing Chamonix in the winter to Scotland in the Spring, I didn’t think we were in for the adventure we had. You know, the mountains are smaller and not as steep as some parts of the Alps, but—especially at Ben Nevis—there are some very alpine, steep and narrow couloirs and climbs. It lived up to my expectations and more. Ben Nevis is even better than I expected. It gets skied a lot, there’s a refuge close by and the northeast aspect has so many lines and like 10+ skiable couloirs. You could stay there for a week. And the Scottish people are just great. So hardy but light-hearted.


Around 75km and 7,000m ascent over three days, with around nine to ten hours driving between start points. Route took on a variation of the legendary Cairngorm 4000ers route to tackle five of the mountains, including Ben Nevis’ north-facing steeps, three of its giant neighbours and a separate outing to tackle Ben Lawers.

Mountains in order summited (not in size / height)

1)      Ben Lawers 

2)      Ben Nevis 

3)      Càrn Mòr Dearg

4)      Aonach Beag 

5)      Aonach Mòr

6)      Braeriach 

7)      The Angel’s Peak (Sgòr an Lochain Uaine)

8)      Cairn Toul 

9)      Ben Macdui 

10)   Cairn Gorm 

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