How to prepare for winter mountaineering

Posted by Peter Burnside on 08/11/2017
The Black Mount on Rannoch Moor. Photo: Shutterstock / John Cameron

Mountaineering Scotland urges hill walkers and climbers to stay safe and prepare properly to enjoy what, for many, is the most rewarding season of the year. That's right, winter is coming, so use the wealth of online information before heading for the hills.

With winter now starting to bite, many hillwalkers and climbers will be getting out their ice axes, crampons and headtorches. But mountaineering experts have stressed that it takes much more than this to be ready for winter.

Mountaineering Scotland has highlighted the high quality of online information which can be easily accessed before heading for the hills.

Mountain Safety Adviser Heather Morning said: “There are some excellent resources for mountain weather information. Check the Mountain Weather Information Service and the excellent new Met Office mountain pages.

“If there is snow on the ground, then check the sportscotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS), which provides free daily reports on snow conditions and an avalanche forecast for six mountain areas of Scotland.”

Online winter skills resources

The BMC has a huge number of winter skills videos on its YouTube channel, and there's still time to sign up for a #MakeWinterCount lecture to get tooled up with all the winter mountaineering knowledge you could shake a pick at, from expert instructors Sam Leary and Mick Jones. 

Don't forget to check out our Essential Winter Know-How landing page with links to articles containing all the useful info you could possibly need to safely enjoy adventures into wintery wonderlands. 

READ: Packing your rucksack: for the winter warriors

Heather Morning said: “Folk heading out onto the hills in winter should take advantage of the advice and information on offer to ensure a safe and enjoyable day.

“As well as making sure you have an ice axe, and crampons that fit, remember that winter days are shorter and colder, so a headtorch with spare batteries is essential. A simple bivouac shelter is also a very good addition to the kit you carry in your winter rucksack.”

WATCH: Our winter walking and climbing skills series on BMC TV

General advice is also available through the Mountaineering Scotland website and, in partnership with Tiso and Cotswold stores, the organisation is running a free winter safety lecture tour. Check here for dates and venues.

Kev Mitchell, vice chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue, said: “Mountain Rescue in Scotland is provided free by world class volunteers on call at all times and in all weathers. We fully endorse the Mountaineering Scotland winter safety message and would encourage hillgoers to ensure that they have left details of their intended route and expected return time.

“People should also be aware of and use the latest navigation / location technology such as GPS or OS locate and other similar apps to avoid navigation errors. However, it is critical that a paper map and a compass are carried and that people know how to use them.

“If you require assistance on the hills, dial 999 ask for Police then Mountain Rescue.”

For more essential winter mountaineering advice go to the Mountaineering Scotland website and see here for more details of Scottish Mountain Rescue teams.


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