Stay safe this winter when heading to the hills

Image above: Aladins Mirror © Heather Morning


The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCoS) urges outdoor enthusiasts to get out and enjoy the mountains, but to check first that they are equipped for winter in a bid to reduce the number of safety related incidents at this time of year.

MCoS’s Mountain Safety Adviser Heather Morning (pictured above) says:

‘Shorter daylight hours, dropping temperatures and the first dusting of snow on the hill are all good indicators that it is time to think about extra kit in your rucksack. It’s easy to get caught out after the clocks change, especially as routes will take longer than expected in winter conditions and many people will end up finishing their route in the dark – so a head torch and spare batteries are crucial.’

‘If you’re heading out on the higher tops, now is the time to add crampons, rigid boots to accommodate them, an ice axe and spare essentials such as hats and winter gloves to your essential kit list.With temperatures at 1000m at least 10 degrees centigrade lower than sea level at this time of year – and feeling even lower through the effect of any wind chill – many underestimate how quickly they can feel the cold – which can turn into hypothermia within less than an hour.

‘Extra layers are essential, such as a synthetic duvet jacket, and an emergency bivvi bag stored in the bottom of a rucksack is highly recommended, just in case you have to be stationary on the hill for any length of time. Those who head to the hills with friends or as part of a group are advised to invest in a lightweight, nylon group shelter. This can provide a snug spot for lunch if the weather is poor and a vital refuge if someone in your party is injured and you are waiting for help to arrive.’

‘However deadling with winter conditions and avalanche avoidance isn’t just a case of buying all the right gea. The right knowledge and experience is crucial too. MCoS are holding 11 free to attend talks at venues from Inverness to Edinburgh, designed to give a taster of essential skills for novices and a refresher for seasoned mountaineers.’     


Click here to view the full winter talks schedule

In the January issue of Outdoor Photography (on sale 17 December) check out our main technique for more information on photographing in winter