Safety Series

Think Winter, say Scottish Outdoor Groups

Mountaineering Scotland and a group of partner organisations have launched the 2020 #ThinkWINTER campaign this week to encourage people to make safer choices in the outdoors this season.

Winter - massive rewards, but a lot of hazard and challenge too. Have you got the skills, gear and knowhow?  © Dan Bailey
Winter - massive rewards, but a lot of hazard and challenge too. Have you got the skills, gear and knowhow?
© Dan Bailey

"The winter environment in the hills can provide some amazing experiences but it can also be unforgiving for those who are not prepared, and we want to make sure people have a great time while keeping themselves and others safe" said Stuart Younie, CEO of Mountaineering Scotland.

It is critical that you pack the right information as well as the right gear

This summer saw an increase in the number of people heading for the outdoors, say Mountaineering Scotland, a trend that's likely to continue thanks in part to ongoing travel restrictions. Many newcomers to the hills are ill-prepared, and Mountain Rescue Teams have been busy in recent months.

The #ThinkWINTER campaign, now in its third year, will draw on expert advice from a number of fields to help people get the most out of their winter outdoors while acting responsibly and safely.

Mountaineering Scotland has teamed up with Scottish Mountain Rescue, Mountain Training, Glenmore Lodge, Snowsport Scotland and Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland to ensure a range of activities are covered, extending the campaign's reach to as many people as possible.

Using traditional and social media, as well as working with outdoor retailers and brands and the tourism industry, the campaign will give access to free expert advice for outdoor activities including hill walking and mountaineering, back country skiing, hill-running and mountain biking.

Mountaineering Scotland's Think WINTER checklist:

  • Check the COVID protection measures where you live and where you plan to go
  • Plan your route and check the mountain weather and avalanche forecasts
  • Pack appropriate winter clothing, footwear and equipment and have plenty to eat and drink
  • Make sure you have the necessary winter skills and experience for what you are planning to do
  • Know your limits and be prepared to alter your plans if the weather or conditions change
  • Let someone know where you are going and what time you will be back
  • In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for Police and then Mountain Rescue

"It has been great to see #ThinkWINTER grow over the last three years and 2020 is set to be our biggest campaign yet" said Stuart Younie.

"We are delighted to be working with so many partner organisations to help get our winter safety messages out there and particularly to all the new people who have been out enjoying the hills since lockdown."

Damon Powell, Chairman of Scottish Mountain Rescue, the umbrella organisation which represents 24 rescue teams across Scotland, said: "We are all, new and experienced, finding our visits to the Scottish hills more important than ever this year. So, if you are lucky enough to be able to travel to enjoy Scotland's mountains, when many would say they are at their finest, please do it safely, with the appropriate skills and equipment, as highlighted in the #ThinkWINTER campaign."

Shaun Roberts, Principal at Glenmore Lodge, sportscotland's National Outdoor Training Centre, added: "It is critical that you pack the right information as well as the right gear, so make the most of the free resources available as part of your planning. sportscotland's Scottish Avalanche Information Service will not only provide you with hazard forecasts for your chosen area, but also provides blog posts from the forecaster team. Use these alongside the Mountain Weather Information Service and Met Office mountain weather forecasts."

When it comes to using the weather and avalanche forecasts to maximum effect, our ongoing skills series from Plas y Brenin has a lot of good advice:

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