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Mountain safety – clocks go back and torches come out

Some of the first snows of winter are expected this weekend. It may still only be October, but hill walkers have been warned they should be prepared for winter conditions.

And with the days shortening and clocks going back an hour this weekend, darkness will be coming a lot sooner, making a headtorch an essential piece of kit.

“Short days and severe weather put greater demands on your equipment and your own ability and hillcraft,” said Mountaineering Scotland Mountain Safety Adviser Heather Morning.

“Now is the time to ‘winterise’ your rucksack – make sure you’re properly prepared for winter weather and have all the necessary equipment as well as adequate clothing.

“Planning for your route takes on extra importance too. You need to factor in the reduced daylight hours and that weather and ground conditions could slow you down considerably, so it’s best not to be overambitious at the start of the season.”

From 14 December, the sportscotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) at www.sais.gov.uk will again provide free daily reports on snow conditions and avalanche forecasts for six mountain areas of Scotland.

Damon Powell, chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue, said: “We fully endorse the Mountaineering Scotland winter safety message and would encourage hillgoers to ensure that they have left details of their intended route and expected return time.

“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. More warm clothing, winter grade waterproofs, thicker and more pairs of gloves, warmer hats, goggles, larger torches with sufficient battery to get through a night. Axe, crampons, avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel will all be dusted off and checked ready for when needed. These days a range of navigational tools will ALL be carried to assist on dark nights: map and compass, GPS and smart phones with OS Locate or a mapping app, all weather proofed and tested to work in very wet and cold conditions and with enough spare batteries.

“Remember Mountain Rescue in Scotland is provided free by world class volunteers on call at all times and in all weathers. If you require assistance on the hills, dial 999 ask for Police then Mountain Rescue.”

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Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each walker's responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.