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Outdoor experts in plea for enthusiasts to #ThinkWINTER

By John Davidson

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The mountains provide new challenges in winter.
The mountains provide new challenges in winter.

People hoping to make the most of the great outdoors this winter are being encouraged to think about safety as the weather and conditions change.

The 2020 #ThinkWINTER campaign was launched this week by Mountaineering Scotland, along with partners including Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, Scottish Mountain Rescue and Glenmore Lodge.

This summer saw an increase in the number of people accessing the outdoors for leisure and recreation, and Mountaineering Scotland expects that trend to continue into the winter.

The membership organisation representing hill walkers, climbers and ski tourers suggests that, with foreign travel opportunities still limited due to coronavirus, it’s likely that many will carry on their new hobby through the winter as restrictions allow.

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 adventures 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 wide range of activities are covered and that the widest number of people can be reached.

Stuart Younie, CEO of Mountaineering Scotland.
Stuart Younie, CEO of Mountaineering Scotland.

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.

Stuart Younie, CEO of Mountaineering Scotland, said: “It has been great to see #ThinkWINTER grow over the last three years and 2020 is set to be our biggest campaign yet.

“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. 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.”

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.”

The campaign urges people to not only check all the relevant Covid measures, but to ensure individuals have the right skills, equipment, knowledge and planning to undertake a safe day in the hills.

Shaun Roberts, principal at Glenmore Lodge, sportscotland’s National Outdoor Training Centre, said: “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.

Almost white-out conditions on the way up Cairn Gorm..
Almost white-out conditions on the way up Cairn Gorm..

"Use these alongside the Mountain Weather Information Service and Met Office mountain weather forecasts.”

Graeme McLean, head of Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, said: “We are extremely lucky in Scotland to have so many choices of places to ride. Outstanding trail centres and an amazing choice of natural rides that are accessible all year round.

“We know that the winter months bring an extra element to mountain biking safely and we are keen to help promote responsible messaging and provide good advice to our community to help keep them safe through the winter months. We are delighted to again be part of the #ThinkWINTER campaign to help get these important messages out to as wide and diverse an audience as possible.”

Snowsport Scotland CEO Trafford Wilson said: “For many snowsports enthusiasts winter is our time – that chance to finally get out to do the sport we love in the Scottish mountains.

"Scotland provides some truly unique and memorable snowsports opportunities to all, from beautiful bluebird days tackling grippy pistes to the more challenging days of riding the deep and steep lines in low visibility. And whilst we love and enjoy these environments, Scotland’s mountains need to be respected and require the right equipment, preparation and skills to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment.

"Snowsport Scotland is excited to be part of the #ThinkWINTER campaign, to help share these important messages to our community and beyond.”

Climbers tackling one of the routes in Coire an t-Sneachda,.
Climbers tackling one of the routes in Coire an t-Sneachda,.

Mountaineering Scotland provides a simple checklist as part of its #thinkWINTER campaign:

  • 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

For more in-depth information about safety in the winter, visit www.mountaineering.scot/safety-and-skills/thinkwinter

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