Experts are urging hillwalkers in Scotland to get winter savvy in the coming months as temperatures plummet.
Mountain Aid, ‘the Hillwalkers’ Charity’, was founded in 2009. It has since provided ramblers with free classes to promote safety on Scotland’s hills.
The charity recently raised £1200 during their “Corbetts for Courses” campaign. Over three months, the charity scaled 200 of the 222 Corbett mountains.
Corbetts range from 2500 to 3000 feet, with a descent of at least 500 feet on all sides. Scaling all of them is considered a greater challenge than scaling the Monros, despite them being around 500 feet shorter.
Corbetts stretch from the Borders, west into Ardgour and and onto numerous islands across Scotland.
One mountain had to be accessed via canoe by Mountain Aid. Others were accessed by yacht – and the tallest mountain in Arran was completed at night.
“We would like to thank everyone who took part in the event and made it such a success,” a Mountain Aid spokesperson said. “More than 70 participants, some four-legged, many climbing several hills.”
“[The money] will enable us to fund navigation and winter skills courses which are free to participants,” the spokesperson added.
The navigation courses are designed for those who want to develop their skills to confidently tackle Scottish Hills.
Navigation is one of the most common reasons for contacting emergency services when hill climbing. 43 of the 239 hillwalking incidents last year were due to navigational errors.
Mountain Aid’s winter skills courses immerse participants in a two-day session at various locations in the Cairngorms to prepare hikers for harsh conditions – potentially preventing many mountaineering accidents.
Almost half of all mountaineering accidents attended to by Scottish Mountain Rescue volunteers involved an injury.
This year alone has seen tens of people left for dead on mountain ranges throughout the UK. A man died whilst climbing An Teallach in July, and the month previous saw the death of a Church of Scotland minister on the same mountain.
With winter fast approaching, now is the time to prepare, Mountaineering Scotland’s Heather Morning said.
“Short days and severe weather put greater demands on your equipment and your own ability and hillcraft,” Heather said. “Now is the time to ‘winterise’ your rucksack – make sure you’re properly prepared for winter.
“Planning for your route takes on extra importance too,” Heather said. “It’s best not to be overambitious at the start of the season.”
Damon Powell, chairperson of Scottish Mountain Rescue, said: “[We] would encourage hillgoers to ensure that they have left details of their intended route and expected return time.”
Damon adds: “At this time of year, Mountain Rescue teams are repacking the equipment needed for the shorter daylight hours, colder days and the approaching wintry weather.”
If you require emergency assistance whilst on a hill, call the Police on 999 and ask for Mountain Rescue.