Yesterday was a busy day as my grand kids arrived and we had some fun as the sun shone in the bitter wind. It was just what you need after a sad weekend with so much happening. The joy of two young girls bring life back a bit from the dark and two huge cuddles are just what you need.
This week many of the Mountain Rescue Teams have been busy and a climber is missing on Ben a’ Choarainn near Roybridge a hill I know well from past accidents. Cairngorm and Lochaber Teams have been busy as have the teams in West, lives have been saved and most have had a good outcome. More snow is forecast and the Police and Mountaineering Scotland have issued advice for winter mountaineers and skiers. Yet so many are out having fun and enjoying the wild places safely it is easy to get into a negative attitude about the mountains if you read the doom and gloom in some of the media.
Police Scotland has issued a warning to hillwalkers and people pursuing outdoor activities in the mountains of the dangers that inclement weather and the terrain can present.
In the last week Mountain Rescue teams have been called out over 13 times and police are reminding people to bear in mind that the weather can change very quickly.
Chief Inspector Neil Anderson, Operational Support Division and Land based Search and Rescue lead for Police Scotland, said: “Unless you are an experienced hillwalker or mountaineer I would advise against venturing into the hills if there is any likelihood of the conditions becoming adverse. Stay up to date with weather and Avalanche forecasts and be prepared to change your plans if the weather is expected to change. If you are not experienced it is a good idea to stick to the lower or less challenging areas.
“If you are enjoying outdoor pursuits please ensure you are properly dressed for the conditions. Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
“A fully charged mobile phone is highly recommended, but remember that sub-zero conditions will take their toll on your battery life. Remember also that the mapping app on your phone is no substitute for a proper map, and that when your battery dies, your map is gone. Make sure you have a map and compass and you know how to use it.
“Take some emergency rations with you, just in case and make sure you know what time the sun sets and allow yourself plenty of time to get off the hill before darkness falls.”
It is good to see the Police reminding us all of a few key facts, keep watching the weather and avalanche forecasts that are nowadays so easy to access.
This was written in 1994 by Bob Reid who was then Chair of Mountaineering Scotland – it is all so relevant today.
1) “There is no such thing as winter hillwalking. Hillwalking is a summer pursuit
(and in most Scottish summers, you need to be prepared for winter) IN
WINTER THERE IS ONLY MOUNTAINEERING.
2) Know your limitations, and don’t be afraid to say no. It ain’t chicken, it is just
3) Turning back (indeed, not even getting out of the car) isn’t an admission of
defeat. Its wisdom and sound judgement coming to the fore. There’s always
4) Errors of judgement are the main apparent cause of accidents – knowledge,
experience, and an ability to use both could be critical. The time to relax is in
the pub, not at the top of the climb.
5) Individual responsibility is the name of the game. It is your life, your risk.
Never pass that responsibility to others. Participate in the decisions, even if you
feel like the dampener on enthusiasm. What you perceive as enthusiasm could
be rashness. You could also spot someone else’s mistake.
6) And finally, a message for the experienced. Always keep on teaching.
If you’re off climbing this weekend …. look well to every step.
These words are still so relevant today – Thanks Bob.