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Winter walking

Winter hill-walking, especially if there is snow and ice, calls for very particular equipment and skills. There are risks from the cold, from slipping and falling (from paths that can be quite easy in other conditions) and from avalanche.

If you are inexperienced in such conditions you are strongly advised to go with an expert. In time your own experience will grow and you will be able to venture out on your own.

Weather conditions are more critical in the winter so you need to get an up to date weather forecast and keep your eye on the changing weather while you are out.

In winter when there is snow there is the additional hazard of potential avalanches. Avalanche assessment is a technical subject that takes many years to perfect, and even then the experts can make mistakes. Avalanche risk is affected by the state of the snow, the orientation and angle of the slope and the current and past weather conditions.

Making an assessment of the avalanche risk on scene is an expert job, but in many places in Britain and abroad you can get an overview of the avalanche risk for the overall area. For instance SportScotland have an avalanche information service for the most popular winter climbing areas in the Scottish Highlands.

Useful publications

Winter Skills: Essential Walking and Climbing Techniques is the official handbook for those training to be a winter mountain leader. It is packed with essential information and is well illustrated, making it a useful resource whether or not you intend to become a mountain leader yourself.

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