Top Tips For Winter Walking
The Scottish and in particular Cairngorm Mountains in winter can be one of the most beautiful places on Earth – when there is a fresh dusting of snow capping the peaks it is as though the heavens themselves have descended. Standing upon them and looking down into the glens and across to the other mountain tops brings a sense of wonder and serenity. But all of this is on a good weather day… It is important to remember the weather can change quickly in the mountains and Scotland by its very nature has some interesting weather patterns.
We have compiled some basic top tips for you as below for when you are walking in the mountains in winter. Nothing we say can take away from the importance of being skilled up appropriately and sitting on something like a winter skills training course is the quickest and safest way to get good quality learning from qualified and experienced instructors.
- Check the weather forecast before you go out – we recommend using MWIS and also the met office mountain or summit specific forecasts. Check the wind direction, speed, visibility, temperature, feels like temperature and what time sunrise and sunset are.
- Check the avalanche forecast and if you don’t know how to read one then book onto a training course where you get taught! trust the forecast but remember it is a forecast and there can be variances on parts of the hill and sometimes they even get it wrong!
- Pack warm layers – big puffy jackets, at least 2 pairs of gloves, hats, buffs and appropriate layering like base layer, t-shirt, Gillet, jumper, jacket etc ensure your waterproofs are up for the job!
- Take crampons, ice axes and a helmet and ensure you know how to use these safely and when to use them. But remember your boots are your first tool in the toolbox as one says make sure they are good quality and have a nice edge to them to kick steps.
- Maps and compasses! plural at least 2 compasses and at least another form of navigation which could be a second map or a phone (last resort).
- Plan the day accordingly and look at key places you want to take in/rest at – but don’t be afraid to turn around if the weather is too bad for you.
- Bring a warm drink and lots of food you use lots of energy in winter so resupply!
- Enjoy it and have fun!
A few basic tips for winter but remember just reading them does nothing you have to do them and put things into practice to be safe and enjoy the mountains in winter.