Scottish mountaineering today received a financial boost to help improve safety on the mountains.

In a sad and ironic twist, Scottish sports minister Stewart Maxwell announced the investment in mountain safety just 6km (3¾ miles) from where David Rainey lost his life in a 270m (900ft) fall on Saturday. At least four others have died in recent months on Scottish hills.

Mr Maxwell told a gathering at Glenmore Lodge, near Aviemore, that £155,300 would be pumped into Scottish mountaineering through the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS). Funding for the Geoff Monk’s Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) would also continue.

Skiing and snowsports would also receive a £217,500 cash injection from the Scottish Government.

sportscotland, the national agency for sport, said safety was a key factor in getting the most out of mountaineering, which was in important activity for Scotland. Much of the funding announced today will go towards continuing support for the post of mountain safety advisor, giving vital advice to the public.

Mountain rescue teams throughout Scotland and also in England and Wales have faced increasing demands on their services and have called for a programme of education for walkers heading for the hills and mountains of Britain.

The MWIS was founded by meteorologist Geoff Monk in 2004 and provides mountain forecasts for climbers and walkers in five areas of Highland Scotland, as well as upland areas of England and Wales. The service faced closure until the Scottish Government stepped in with cash support in July last year. grough readers can access its forecasts via the weather link on our left-hand menu.

Speaking at Glenmore Lodge, in the shadow of Coire an t-Sneachda, the corrie where Mr Rainey died and five mountaineers perished in the previous winter,  the minister said:  “Scotland is home to some of the world’s most spectacular hills and mountains and it’s important we encourage everyone to get out and enjoy them.
“This funding for mountaineering will help outdoor activity enthusiasts access the important information they need to enjoy Scotland’s breathtaking landscape more safely.

“It’s important anyone heading to the hills is properly equipped and prepared to cope with changing ground and weather conditions before setting off.”

David Gibson, senior officer for the MCofS echoed Mr Maxwell’s views: “The Mountaineering Council of Scotland welcomes sportscotland’s continuing investment in mountain safety initiatives and MWIS.

“Self-reliance is the most important attribute in the mountains, at any time of year. With increasing numbers of people wishing to enjoy Scotland’s mountains, these services help to improve both the awareness of risk, and the need for informed decision-making.”

Some of the government money will be spent on mountain leader training, in which Glenmore Lodge, the National Mountain Centre, specialises.

The snowsport grant will aid Scottish skiers and other alpine athletes bidding for success in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.