With spring flowers showing through the ground and warmer temperatures becoming more common, hill walkers have been reminded by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland that it’s still winter in the mountains.
“With the days getting longer and warmer, people start to get more enthusiastic about the idea of getting out there in the mountains,” said mountain safety expert Heather Morning.
“But they should remember that it’s just March – and conditions in the mountains can be as fierce as they are at any time in the winter.”
Heather, who is Mountain Safety Adviser with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, reminded those intent on heading for the hills that both the weather and the conditions underfoot are still wintry, and ice axe, crampons and other winter equipment – along with the knowledge and skills to use them – are still essential.
“There have been some big thaws recently, and people will have heard of huge quantities of snow being stripped from some of the ski areas. But at this time of year we can still expect heavy snow falls which can be of considerable depth and can impede progress, not to mention the problems of old, hard snow which can necessitate the wearing of crampons.
“It’s great to get out on the mountains, and those who restrict their hill walking to the summer months will be itching to get going, but you need to be patient and go with the weather and conditions in the mountains, and not how it feels in the lowlands."
People heading for the hills should always check the weather forecast – the Mountain Weather Information Service at www.mwis.org.uk is specially focussed on mountain areas – but can also gain further essential information by checking any of a number of mountain webcams and, of course, the sportscotland Avalanche Information Service at www.sais.gov.uk, which has information about snow cover and conditions.