Extra care needed on the winter mountains: a statement from Police Scotland.

Introduction : by Heavy

The hills are incredible in winter but the snow just now is rock hard meaning a slip on an icy slope could be serious . I was out on the hills on Sunday the snow in places was solid. A slip would need to be arrested with an ice axe and crampons are needed on icy slopes. I saw a few out on the busy hills with no axes or crampons. Most get away with it but sadly over the last few weeks there have been several fatalities and serious injuries. The mountain rescue teams have been busy and my thoughts are as always with them and the families who have lost loved ones. Please be careful we do not get these hard conditions that often but over the years sadly I have seen this happen before. Ensure if you go out you are aware of the weather and your equipment and how to use your ice axe and crampons.

It’s to late if you fall? For many years I was the Mountain Rescue statistician and have seen these incidents reoccur when conditions like this occur. Many of the local guides have been advising for days of the snow being bullet hard. Trekking poles that many use on steep ground will not stop a fall.

A slip here could be serious.

From Police Scotland.

“Take extra care and plan ahead before heading to the hills and mountains

Police Scotland is appealing to hill users and mountaineers to plan ahead and take extra care in the coming weeks.

Mountain Rescue Teams across Scotland have been experiencing a recent increase in callouts and six people have tragically lost their lives over the last two weeks.

Last night Mountain Rescue Teams dealt with an incident on Ben Nevis when police were made aware of a number of people in difficulty.  One man, aged 28 was pronounced dead at the scene and 23 people were assisted off the mountain. Two men, aged 29 and 37 were treated in hospital.

A search for Nick Gillingham, last seen near the summit of Stob Coire Nam Beith, Glencoe, has been stood down today due to weather conditions. It will resume once it is safe for mountain rescue teams to do so.

Inspector Matt Smith, Police Scotland Mountain Rescue coordinator said, “The onset of spring has brought some more settled weather patterns and a welcome increase in daylight hours.  We would urge those seeking to venture into the outdoors to take extra care.  Challenging winter conditions still prevail in the hills with large areas totally covered in snow and ice. 

“Often these areas are completely unavoidable and snow may be rock hard with a high likelihood of a fall unless crampons and an ice axe are carried and most importantly, the group has a knowledge in how and when to use them. A slip in these situations may have very serious or fatal consequences.

“As with all outdoor activities, planning is key and a number of key partners produce resources and guidance to help keep you safe including the current #thinkWINTER campaign backed by Scottish Mountain Rescue and Mountaineering Scotland.

“It is vitally important to understand the risks of your activity, the experience of your group, the prevailing weather conditions during, and at your intended destination and that suitable equipment is carried to allow you to navigate safely over steep or icy terrain. Make a plan, don’t be afraid to adapt and make sure you think about what to do if things go wrong.  The photo you’ve seen on social media is not always a true reflection of what you may find when you get there.

“The volunteer Mountain Rescue Teams across Scotland are an amazing network of dedicated and highly skilled people who will do everything they can to assist you if you find yourself in difficulty but responsibility for staying safe on the mountains rest with us all and involves good planning, sound decision making and the ability to carry and use the correct equipment. By all mean enjoy Scotland’s spectacular scenery but do so safely.”

If you do need emergency help on the mountains, dial 999, ask for the police and then for Mountain Rescue.”

Todays tip- Be careful ensure you have the proper kit with you and have the training to use crampons and ice axe.

Winter is a wonderful time but never forget that nature rules ensure you check the weather and avalanche reports. In winter the Scottish hills are winter mountaineering and not walking.

“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”

Edward Whymper, Scrambles Amongst the Alps

The mountains in winter are beautiful but extremely serious enjoy the mountains and their beauty but be careful.

Winter advice.

Again it was a superb effort by all the volunteers of the Police, Mountain Rescue teams, SARDA and the helicopter crews. Most are unpaid volunteers who are mountaineers themselves and are out 365 days a year. We are so lucky to have such a great service in the UK and a history of free rescue . Please if you can donate to the Teams.

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 Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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