Hillwalking becomes mountaineering in winter

Hillwalking becomes mountaineering in winter

An expert in mountain safety has warned it’s not enough to buy the gear to head for Scotland’s mountain – you have to have the knowledge to use it.

Heather Morning of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland said every trip on to the nation’s winter hills involves mountaineering.

People heading for the mountains in the coming months need to have the skills to survive the conditions, she said.

Ms Morning, the council’s mountain safety adviser, said: “Everyone’s heard the expression ‘All the gear and no idea’. Don’t be that person. Get clued up for winter.

“People may be experienced hillwalkers, but there is no hillwalking in the Scottish mountains in winter – it’s mountaineering. And mountaineering demands additional skills as well as a higher level of existing skills and experience.”

She said it’s not enough just to fork out lots of money for the latest foul weather gear and mountaineering equipment.

“Ice axes and crampons are an essential part of kit for winter,” Ms Morning said. “But they can be a liability rather than a lifesaver if you don’t know how to use them.

“Every winter brings its toll of accidents, and so many are due to a simple slip while walking on what might be simple ground under summer conditions.

“Learning how to use crampons safely can prevent that slip, but they can also cause a trip if you don’t know how to use them.

“It’s the same with an ice-axe. A real lifesaver if you know how to use it to stop a fall, but a potentially deadly weapon whirling around your body if you don’t know how to prevent that slip turning into a longer fall.”

Other skills such as being able to navigate in poor visibility and avalanche awareness are also essential to winter safety the MCofS said.

It said it runs heavily subsidised winter skills courses based at Glenmore Lodge, near Aviemore. A weekend course runs from 20 to 22 December, while there are four one-day courses running from 4 to 8 January 2014.

There are also two one-day avalanche awareness courses, based at the Nevis Range ski resort near Spean Bridge, north of Fort William, designed for people with winter experience but who want to increase their knowledge of snow and avalanches.

The MCofS said there are one or two places left on these courses, which are on 28 and 29 December.

More details are on the MCofS website.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Mountain expert Heather Morning will deliver winter safety talks
  2. Mountain expert urges hillgoers to plan for winter as temperatures drop
  3. Experts’ meeting will produce winter safety advice for Scottish hills
  4. Scores of ‘high-risk’ hillgoers get winter-skills training in student scheme
  5. Experts issue 10-point safety checklist for winter mountain trips