Heather Morning stands next to the edge of the Northern Corries on Cairn Gorm where the edge can be almost impossible to distinguish in poor visibility

Heather Morning stands next to the edge of the Northern Corries on Cairn Gorm where the edge can be almost impossible to distinguish in poor visibility

A mountain expert warned hillwalkers and mountaineers to watch their step near corrie tops and their projecting snow ledges in poor visibility.

Heather Morning of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland revealed that 18 people walked over the edge of snow cornices in the Scottish mountains last winter.

Ms Morning, the council’s mountain safety adviser, said the coming weekend is likely to see less favourable weather than the last, and cornices can be difficult to spot in whiteout conditions.

The MCofS said: “Mountaineers all over Scotland delighted last weekend in perfect winter conditions, with clear blue skies and sun glinting off crisp white snowy hills.

“It was the sort of glorious weekend when no-one could question why people take to Scotland’s winter mountains.

“But experienced mountaineers know that the weather isn’t always like that, and with forecasts this weekend expected to be more mixed than last weekend’s ideal conditions, climbers are being reminded of the dangers of cornices.

“Found above cliffs and steep slopes, these projecting ledges of snow can be surprisingly hard to see in poor visibility.”

The council said navigation skills are essential for anyone venturing into the mountains so that they can avoid this hazard. Necessary skills include being able to take accurate bearings and walk on them, and knowing how to measure distance on a map and assess that on the ground using pacing and reading the ground.

Ms Morning said: “The Scottish Mountains are an awesome, inspiring and challenging environment which I would encourage all enthusiastic hillwalkers and mountaineers to enjoy.

“But people do need to be cautious near corrie edges and avoid cornices.”

“There are also simple tips that can be real lifesavers: attaching your compass to your jacket so you don’t lose it, and having your map in a small waterproof case so you can see the detail while protecting the map from the elements.

“Keeping your compass away from metal objects and your mobile phone is also essential as these can affect the bearing if in close proximity.”

She added any hillgoers should consult the MCofS’s safety pages and obtain a weather forecast and avalanche information.

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