Meteorologists forecast sleet and snow for Ben Nevis and other high mountains in Scotland

Meteorologists forecast sleet and snow for Ben Nevis and other high mountains in Scotland

A mountain expert is warning walkers they face cold conditions on Scotland’s high peaks, despite it still being August.

Sleet and even snow was forecast for the country’s highest munros this week, and hillwalkers should go equipped for cool and wet conditions, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland said.

Torrential wind and gales last week led to flooding in parts of the Highlands, with bridges on popular Cairngorms routes washed away.

The MCofS said hypothermia is a real risk if people are not properly prepared.

Temporary mountain safety adviser David ‘Monty’ Monteith said: “Sleet has been forecast for the higher hills in the coming week, and we’ve just seen torrential rain which swept away two bridges in the Cairngorms and made many streams impassable for a period, as well as causing landslips and damage to footpaths.

“Wind and rain are the classic combination for bringing on hypothermia. Once someone’s clothes are wet through the wind can have a tremendous chilling effect, even though the air temperature is not that low in itself.”

David Monteith: pack enough gear to cope if things go wrong

David Monteith: pack enough gear to cope if things go wrong

He pointed out hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature drops below 35°C, normal body temperature being around 37°C. Hypothermia can quickly become life-threatening and should be treated as a medical emergency, he said.

The MCofS said anyone planning a day in the mountains should make sure they check the weather forecast, with mountain-specific forecasts available from MWIS and the Met Office. There is also the BBC outdoors forecast on BBC Radio Scotland at weekends, it said.

Mr Monteith said: “Walkers should also consider a simpler, low-level route option or plan a viable escape route if they are aiming to go high. The provision of a bivouac bag, group shelter and some modern lightweight insulating clothing can be a lifesaver if things do go wrong.

“Add to this some first aid knowledge and the ability to convey an emergency message and preparations are in good order.

“The medium-term weather forecast is for some respite in the wet and cold weather but this will only be temporary. The nights are now drawing in and next month sees the autumnal equinox, after which the number of daylight hours shrinks noticeably.

“Make sure you don’t shrink from responsible preparations for your mountain journeys.”

More advice can be found on the MCofS website.

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