Loch Etchachan and Ben MacDui in the heart of the Cairngorms, still under snow and ice at the beginning of May

Loch Etchachan and Ben MacDui in the heart of the Cairngorms, still under snow and ice at the beginning of May

Outdoor enthusiasts heading for the Scottish peaks this holiday weekend are being warned to expect snow.

Although conditions in the glens may be benign, there are still significant patches of snow and ice on the upper reaches of many mountains.

Mountaineering Scotland said hillwalkers should treat long-lying snow with caution.

Ahead of the May Day bank holiday, the organisation, which represents climbers, hillwalkers and mountaineers north of the border, said temperatures over the past week have been unseasonably low, with new snow falling on some of the higher mountain tops, while much of the old snow people encounter may be hard and icy, posing a significant threat to anyone not properly equipped.

Mountaineering Scotland mountain safety adviser Heather Morning said: “Every year at this time, folk get into difficulties when encountering old snow patches. Sadly, a slip and subsequent slide in the wrong place does sometimes result in fatalities.

“These snow patches will often be hard and located high up on the shady, north side of the mountain.

“Many traditional mountain routes cross through such terrain and are the usual choice for munrobaggers. Hillwalkers are advised to treat these old snow patches with caution, particularly if the ‘run out’ below is over steep or rocky ground. Route choice is really important and hillwalkers should consider a ‘snow free’ alternative or simply turn around.

“My advice, if you don’t have the kit or knowledge to deal with hard snow, is to adjust your plan and enjoy a day out on one of our fabulous lower hills or glens where there is no chance of encountering old snow patches.

“If you are planning to head up onto the higher mountains take a good look at the mountain weather forecasts.

“If temperatures at 900m are forecast to be below freezing then my advice would be to still have your winter kit with you: a rigid pair of boots, crampons and an ice-axe.”

She advised walkers to check out weather forecasts on the Mountain Weather Information Service.

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