The cold, dark, snowy season is upon us yet again, and as the birds flit south and small furry things catch up on their hibernation it's time to begin an annual ritual of our own. Dust off the ski goggles, de-mothball your thermals and check your crampons for wear and tear. Get stuck into some serious binge eating to build up to your winter fighting weight. Start that daily trawl through weather forecasts, avalanche reports and climbing conditions blogs. Study the tea leaves, count the rowan berries and indulge in some wishful speculation. Will this season bring another glorious mini ice age, or fizzle out in a damp squib? Whatever the weather gives us, be sure to get out there and enjoy it.
To help you make the seasonal adjustment we've put together a collection of wintry content from UKC and UKH here. There's a directory of articles from the database covering basic winter essentials: hill skills, gear choice and destinations. We've also added UKHillwalking Route Cards to some classic rounds that are at their very best in the snow. Check out our list of links to other online resources too. And if you're in the market for new kit then take a look at some past reviews of winter clothing, footwear and equipment.
When is Hillwalking Not Hillwalking? by Roger Wild / MCofS
The Dark Art of Night Navigation by Paul Lewis
How to Make an Emergency Snow Shelter by Paul Lewis
First Aid for Scottish Winter Climbers and mountaineers by Rocio Siemens
Navigating on (and off!) Ben Nevis from the MCofS
How to Get Off: Navigating in the Northern Corries by Dan Goodwin
Ski Touring for Beginners by Jim Blyth
Snowshoeing: the Forgotten Art? by Lindsay Cannon
The Lord of the Swings: Walking Axes by Paul Lewis
Crampons: Everything you Need to Know by Paul Lewis
Sharpening up your Ice Tools by Graham Gedge
'Will it be a mini ice age or a damp squib? Whatever the weather brings, be sure to get out there and enjoy it'
Destination articles and interviews
Braeriach - a Big Winter Day Out by Jonathan Miles
Winter Walks in Northern Snowdonia by Mike Raine
Winter Mountaineering in Northwest Scotland by Carrbridge
Ben Nevis Winter by Dave MacLeod & Alan Halewood
Creag Meagaidh by Viv Scott
Northern Corries Winter by Viv Scott
'My first whiteout: Snow and sky blend seamlessly together, cloaking us in all directions with not a single speck of black or colour to indicate up from down, or north from south. Thoughts of the great cliffs and possible monster cornices off somewhere to our left stir uneasily in my mind'
Some UKHillwalking winter Route Cards
They're classics at any time of year, but best of all in the snow...
Forecasts, reports and other resources
The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow. Well maybe. But where, when and how much is anyone's guess. If you want to maximise your chance of a full value day out, and minimise the chances of getting rained off or even avalanched, then it's worth keeping a close eye on weather forecasts, winter reports from UKC's regular correspondents, conditions blogs, forums and the invaluable SportScotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS).
Conditions reports and avalanche forecast
SportScotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) forecasts daily avalanche risk at five popular locations, in season
Lake District Weatherline posts daily felltop conditions reports from Helvellyn between December and Easter
Mountainsafe Snowdonia on Twitter (of all things) gives regular reports on ground conditions in the National Park
The UKC Winter Climbing Forum generally includes plenty of talk on current conditions, supplemented with regular on-the-ground reports from UKC's Area Correspondents - most of whom are guides that spend every working day on the hill.
The UKC Winter Conditions page gives a summary of winter routes currently being climbed and recorded by site users - info from which walkers can also glean a useful idea of general hill conditions.
Scottishwinter.com Simon Richardson's authoritative blog covers climbing, and mainly new routes, but it can still be a useful indicator of conditions for walkers willing to read between the lines
Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) gives detailed daily forecasts for eight upland areas across the UK. Though remember, it's still just a forecast.
Met Office Mountain Area Forecasts offer a similar service.
Other online resources
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland's website has a number of skills and advice pages for winter walkers and mountaineers.
A few winter gear reviews
- REVIEW: Black Diamond Sprint 225 and Flare headtorches 7 Sep
- REVIEW: The Earth Beneath My Feet by Andrew Terrill 24 Aug
- REVIEW: Sprayway Dornie baselayer 3 Aug
- REVIEW: Black Diamond Fuel Approach Shoe 13 Jul
- REVIEW: Trekmates Caps - Stanage GTX and Shine 29 Jun
- GROUP TEST: Exposure Lights Verso Mk 2 24 Jun
- GROUP TEST: Alpkit Qark 24 Jun
- GROUP TEST: Petzl ACTIK CORE 24 Jun
- GROUP TEST: Black Diamond Spot 325 24 Jun
- GROUP TEST: Nite Ize Radiant 250 Rechargeable 24 Jun