Message from Highland & Island Police Division. A few thoughts on winter mountaineering.

It’s great to see so many on the hills since Covid but please be aware with the short daylight and winter the days of rushing round the Munro’s and other hills are restricted by daylight weather and your hill competence. I have been out fairly often and it’s amazing how many are enjoying the mountains and wild places. I am no kill joy but please be aware this is a tricky time on the hill. There is so much advice about but navigation is a key skill despite technology advances. Make sure you plan your route tell someone where your going and ensure your torch bid working. Guide book time’s at this time of year can be taken with a pinch of salt. Start early and remember how a wind and snow can change your day. Paths are covered in snow often and it’s not hillwalking in winter. To me it’s winter mountaineering the use of an ice axe and crampons and training in their use is so important .

I am not trying to put folk off but a lifetime of bringing so many of the hill all over Scotland gives me a huge respect for our mountains. This is so important to be careful and I have climbed all over the World they are as hard as anywhere in wild weather.

Be aware of the the folk in some of the media who treat the mountains like a gym. They are certainly not these are wild places where nature rules. Conditions change constantly and despite modern weather forecast they are just that a “forecast” It is the same with the avalanche forecast, read them and pick your route accordingly!

Mountain Rescuers are there to help us as is SARDA dogs and the other agencies. We can all have accidents but we can all do our bit to keep safe. Remember Mountain Rescue are all unpaid volunteers who at time’s risk there lives for us. We can all do our bit get some training and go on the hills and enjoy them safely tell folk your planned route and remember “ the mountains will always be there the secret is to be there with them.

Have fun stay safe.

Message from Highland & Islands Police Division:


Hillwalkers and climbers are being urged to plan their walks and prepare for all eventualities as Scottish mountain rescue teams based in the #North have recorded their busiest period on record.

In 2020, Police Scotland has recorded a 20% increase in call-outs across the #Highlands, #NorthEast and #Tayside regions in comparison to any other year.

Sergeant Peter Lorrain-Smith, Police Scotland’s mountain rescue co-ordinator, said: “The North of Scotland is lucky to have some of the most beautiful hills and mountains in the country, and over the past few months we have experienced a significant increase in the number of people heading outdoors to enjoy themselves.

“By all means I do not want to put anyone off appreciating our great outdoors, however I must highlight just how crucial it is that you are prepared. Unfortunately we continue to come across examples of people not being prepared for the walks or climbs they have embarked on, including people without maps, torches or basic survival gear, nor the skills and knowledge to use them.

“I appreciate that getting outdoors is great for people’s well-being at this challenging time, however the well-being of our teams is also a priority for me and I can see the impact this increase in demand on our services is having, combined with the wider Covid-19 restrictions we all face.

“If you do find yourself in need of assistance because of being lost or injured then phone 999, ask for Police then Mountain Rescue. You will be helped however because of the current restrictions in place, it may take longer than normal for us to get to you.”

Scottish Mountain Rescue will be launching its #ThinkWINTER campaign in early December which Police Scotland will be supporting – please search for the hashtag #ThinkWINTER on social media and follow its channels.

To read Sgt Lorrain-Smith’s full message and read the full #ThinkWINTER check-list visit 👉

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Message from Highland & Island Police Division. A few thoughts on winter mountaineering.

  1. bobhankinson says:

    “The Mountaineers” is a very strong outdoor club with 10,000 members in the Seattle area. I joined when I moved to Seattle, and benefited from many courses and events. Hundreds are qualified internally as leaders for hiking, scrambling, climbing, mountaineering, kayaking, biking, skiing. These leader volunteers organize member trips for groups of about 8. One common factor for activities is the “Ten Essentials” that every party member should have. It’s a very useful discipline of thinking that can be adapted for the activity and the season.


  2. And winter hasn’t arrived yet. The snow and ice combined with an increased influx of inexperienced and illequiped members of the public will place a great deal of pressure on Mountain Rescue Teams whom are operating under Covid Virus guidelines.

    A difficult winter is approaching.

    Liked by 1 person

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