This weekend I’m off to take in the first winter walking adventure for this season. Being a person who doesn’t get on well in the cold I never imagined I would enjoy walking in Scotland’s mountains in the winter. But last year I became hooked on the combination of dramatic winter scenery and the potential for a different type of challenge.
Winter walking – and most specifically winter Munro bagging – requires a great deal more dedication than the same outing in summer. It’s usually a longer and more strenuous expedition, mainly because of the snow, ice, wind and cold. It also necessitates carrying extra kit.
So this week I’ve been “winterising” my rucksack. First, I’ll be using a larger pack than in summer so I can fit in all the right kit.
As well as the usual summer walking equipment, such as extra baselayer, extra fleece, waterproof overtrousers, summer gloves, hat, map, compass, water and food, my “winterised” pack also has another baselayer or two, a lightweight insulated jacket, a heavier insulated “over jacket” , an emergency shelter, thick winter hat, down gloves, balaclava, crampons, ice axe, extra energy bars, a flask of tea or coffee and a head torch.
Most of the kit is for emergencies. Last season, the G-Force and I had to be rescued from an avalanche prone mountain slope and we needed all the extra layers of kit, water and food that we could get. It pays to be prepared for all eventualities.
The head torch will be vital if the walk takes longer than expected and we’re required to walk back to base in the dark.
It’s also time to think about the winter walking kit you’ll be wearing as you set off.
Heather Morning, the Mountain Safety Advisor with The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, offers the following advice: “As the hills get their first dusting of snow, now is the time to put away those lightweight, bendy summer boots and change into a more rigid pair.
“Wear extra layers, too, and ensure you have a good-quality waterproof and windproof jacket.
“Look out gloves, hats, warm socks and make sure you’ve packed all the kit you might need for an emergency on the hills.”
Check out The Mountaineering Council of Scotland for a wealth of other safety in the hills tips.