The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the British Mountaineering Council and the Mountaineering Council of Ireland are concerned about five fatalities which have occurred within the first two months of the winter season – all in one area. All the accidents occurred in Coire an t-Sneachda in the northern Cairngorms. Whilst each incident occurred in different circumstances, one common factor is the proximity and ease of access to the coire.
It is important to recognise that although it is relatively easy to access the northern corries of the Cairngorms, the terrain is as serious as any in Scotland and the full range of mountaineering and climbing skills are needed to manage the risks involved. Some of the skills are technical but equally important are judgement and decision-making. It takes time to acquire these skills.
The following factors are of particular importance:
(a) Pay heed to the weather forecast and avalanche report and choose objectives that are appropriate.
(b) Be well equipped with both warm clothing and the appropriate technical gear.
(c) Adopt a progressive approach to adventure. Develop skills incrementally by choosing objectives that build on previous experience.
(d) Don't be influenced by the hype that surrounds adventure activities in the 21st century. It is not always best to “go for it”.
Information and training are readily available in a variety of formats including the Winter Essentials DVD, the forthcoming Winter Skills handbook and Winter Skills lectures throughout Great Britain and Ireland. Training courses are run by the national centres – Glenmore Lodge, Plas y Brenin and Tollymore. Subsidised winter skills courses are also available via the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust and the Catherine Smith Memorial Trust.
For more information about mountain safety contact the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the British Mountaineering Council or the Mountaineering Council of Ireland.