Every year at this time people get caught out with the shortage of daylight and despite the warnings it happens every year. The clocks are going back this weekend this will make a difference to the days on the hill with winter just round the corner. I would advise that you need a bit more planning for your winter adventures. I enjoy getting the maps out and looking at how long a day may take and if the weather comes in earlier than predicted to have another option in your plan. The weather is what makes your day as does your ambition be sensible in what you plan and always be willing to change the plan? The weather forecast is very important and there are so many available the one I use is the Mountain Weather Information Service ( MWIS) I look at it every day as it gives me an idea of what has been happening on the mountains. This is today’s for the Cairngorms, high winds and a very high windchill mean I will be going low level today.
Detailed Forecast for Saturday, 25 October, 2014
How windy? (On the Munros) Effect of wind on you?
How wet?Cloud on the hills?Chance of cloud free Munros?
Sunshine and air clarity?How Cold? (at 900m) Freezing Level.
Southwesterly 50mph, strengthening to 60 to 75mph during daylight.
4C; but feeling like minus 10 to minus 15 where exposed to gale force wind.
Bursts of sunshine will come through.Very good visibility, but extensive fog higher areas.
Cloud generally shrouding higher mountains, the base rarely below 600m, and breaks to
1050m.Mostly confined to higher areas
Occasional showers, and perhaps for two hours in morning, almost constant precipitation.
Least precipitation Deeside. Snow higher summits.
Walking increasingly difficult, by afternoon even in some glens. Higher up, general
mobility difficult. Severe wind chill.
There is lots of information but the following is well worth remembering from Heather Morning on the Mountaineering Council Of Scotland website.
The end of British Summer Time is also a reminder of other changes in Scotland’s mountains. Heather Morning, Mountain Safety Adviser with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland advises: “Shorter daylight hours, dropping temperatures and the first dusting of snow on the hill are obvious indicators for the hill walker to think about extra kit in their rucksacks.
“A head torch – and spare battery – is crucial in case your route takes a wee bit longer than expected. Check it out before you go every time! “
It’s also well worth considering putting away those light weight, bendy summer boots and changing into a more rigid pair that will accommodate crampons.
“Now is the time to add a pair of crampons and an ice axe to the essential kit list – as well as making sure you know how to use them!”
Extra layers should be considered, with the addition of a synthetic duvet jacket and emergency shelter stored in the bottom of your rucksack just in case you are stationary on the hill for any length of time.
Hats, gloves (at least two pairs are recommended) and face protection (such as a Buff) will all add to comfort on the hill as the winter season gets under way.( I carry goggles as well from now on?)
Heather added that now was also a good time for climbers and walkers to consider whether they could benefit from extra training. “Dealing with winter conditions and avalanche avoidance isn’t just a case of buying all the right gear,” she said. “The right knowledge and experience is vital.”
It is all great advice and may remind you that winter is on its way.
Please get out in the winter as WH Murray said
“It is in winter that the Scottish Mountains excel.No one who has seen the skyward thrust of a snow peak, girdled by its early morning cloud and flushed with the low sun, will dispute with me.Follow a long ridge of encrusted snow to its sunset tower and tread the summit at moonrise.
This is Scottish winter climbing!