• Jonny Hawkins

Winter Hill Walking Resources

Updated: Apr 3

With winter arriving in the Scottish hills, I thought I'd pop together a selection of resources to help you prepare for the season ahead.

Weather

Getting an accurate weather forecast when planning your winter hill walk is so important. It allows you to pick the best location to head for, enables you to bring the right equipment and helps you to come up with a realistic route.

Met office - Great for specific mountain tops, shows hour by hour weather and has lots of detail.

MWIS - Good overview of mountain areas and written specifically for hill walkers.

Windy - Gives a great visual image of the weather.

Avalanche Avoidence

Unfortunately people get caught in avalanches every year in Scotland so they are a significant hazard that needs to be avoided. 90% of victims trigger their own avalanche, so staying off unstable snow is key and the resources below will help you do that.

Avalanche forecast - SAIS produce a daily forecast for the six most popular mountain areas in Scotland. The site also has loads of brilliant educational material. Be Avalanche Aware - This website details a brilliant decision making process that helps you avoid avalanche terrain and can also help with decision making for other adventure sports.

Equipment Carrying the right equipment on you and in your bag helps you have a comfortable day out but could also save your or a fellow walker's life. Kit List - This is the recommended personal kit list that we encourage course participants to bring.

Technical kit - If you are expecting to encounter snow on your journey, I'd recommend carrying a helmet, ice axe and crampons and know how to use them.

In addition to the personal kit list, your team should have a First Aid Kit, Group Shelter and possibly a means to get help without phone signal i.e. a PLB.

Techniques

Once you are out in the hills, knowing how to move safely and use all of the extra kit required helps you have a safe and fun day out.

BMC TV - The British Mountaineering Council have loads of brilliant instructional videos to teach many of the essential skills required for winter hill walking.

Winter skills book - This bible of winter skills contains loads of brilliant, easy to digest information making it a must read for all budding mountaineers.

Navigation

Being able to navigate with a map and compass is an important skill in winter. Phones and GPS' make navigating easier but are not certainly not a replacement. Navigation in the mountains - This is a brilliant book explaining loads of navigational techniques to help keep you on-route when adventuring.

Phone Mapping - Apps like Outdoor Active and OSMaps are a great addition to a map and compass as they give you a quick, precise location but only if your phone has charge and isn't to cold!

OS Locate - is a simple app that provides a quick grid reference when needed.

Rescue

If you come into difficulties, knowing how to get external help will save lives. Mountain Rescue - This is a team of highly trained volunteers that you can reach by dialling 999 and asking for the Police then the Mountain Rescue service.

OSLocate - Will give you an accurate grid reference which the emergency services will require.

First Aid Course - I would recommend anyone venturing out into the hills to be first aid qualified. WEMSI do amazing six day courses and BASP do a great two day option.


Courses

This winter we are offering 2 day Winter Hill Skills courses designed to teach you all of the above and more. They are great ways to learn all of the skills in context, ask questions, get feedback on techniques and meet likeminded people for future adventures.

I hope you have found this article useful and it would be great to hear about any other resources that you like in the comments below. Happy winter walking :)

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