Since Easter falls early this year and winter conditions are still hanging in there, police and the MCofS have teamed up to remind walkers to stay safe. With six people currently missing in the Scottish hills, their key message is to let someone know your plans.
Young climbers Tim Newton and Rachel Slater have been missing on Ben Nevis since February, while a couple of weeks ago walker Jim Robertson went missing in the Cairngorms. In addition, still missing from the summer of 2015 are three hill walkers lost in separate incidents in the Lochaber/Glencoe area: Tom Brown, Eric Cyl and Robin Garton.
“We do not want to discourage anyone from participating in the great outdoor experience but do advocate the benefits of taking the time to share your intentions with another in case things go wrong" said Police Scotland Area Commander for the South Highland area, Chief Inspector Brian Mackay.
"We work closely with the volunteer mountain rescue teams in Scotland to provide a world class service any time and in any weather. We have experienced a number of challenging searches for missing climbers in recent months, including for people who have left minimal or no information regarding their intentions."
“When walkers are reported overdue or missing, having left no information about their intended walking route, police and mountain rescue face the potential of having to widen the search to the entire mountain range, which poses a significant challenge. We know that not everyone will want to leave a written route card, but we are asking the hill-going public, and even those on lower level rambles, to make sure that somebody knows where they are going, so that we have a better idea where to look for them if they are overdue.”
Even long after hope has gone of finding missing people alive, Police and rescue teams have committed a lot of time and effort in searches.
To help bring home the message on letting people know your plans Marjorie Ballantine, sister of Tom Brown, has spoken about the grief and uncertainty - and the financial difficulty - that followed his disappearance:
"My experience... demonstrates how irresponsible it is to set off alone without indicating to anyone where you are going and the terrible implications for your family if you do unfortunately sustain a fatal accident and your body is never recovered" she said.
"People like to be free to roam, but they generally have a good idea of one's objective for a day. When a person goes missing the relatives are faced with awful uncertainty and grief. Theres also a legislative process of immense complexity to deal with. While the aftermath is bad enough, the next of kin are unable to administer the financial situation of their missing relative, due to legal issues, and they suffer financial hardship while lacking information about the actions they are able to take in relation to the missing person's property."