Rescue agencies have issues a joint warning for people heading to the mountains to ‘think safety first’ and be prepared for weather conditions.
With severe weather warnings still in place, the plea by Police Scotland, Mountaineering Scotland and the UK Coastguard follows a spate of mountain rescues from the combined forces of the Scottish Mountain Rescue teams and Coastguard search and rescue helicopters.
Walkers, snow sports enthusiasts, climbers and mountaineers are being asked to avoid putting themselves in any unnecessary danger and to also ensure they tell a friend or family of their intentions in case they get into difficulties.
Superintendent Colin Gough said: “At this time of year, people rightly come to the Scottish Mountains in search of the excellent winter sports and mountaineering challenges available. However, our mountains should not be underestimated as they can be unforgiving for even the most experienced. Severe weather conditions forecast in the coming days could change your environment within minutes and navigation could become difficult. White-out snow conditions could also make paths and tracks dangerously impassable.
“We do not want to put anybody off these great outdoor experiences. We are all, however, increasingly challenged by searches for people who have left minimal or no information regarding their intentions. 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.”
Damien Oliver, Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) assistant director for aviation, also reinforced the message to check on conditions and equipment before setting out.
He said: “In the last few weeks there have been a number of helicopter rescues carried out in the Scottish mountains in response to people who have become injured, lost and at risk of exposure.
“The UK Coastguard helicopters are equipped to fly in the most hostile of conditions in support of the invaluable work of Scotland’s volunteer mountain rescue experts, so it’s vital that we get the message out to everyone who’s planning to go into the mountains to please check the weather conditions for your area before you go and make sure you’re well equipped.
“Tell someone your planned route and what time you will be expected back. If you do get into trouble call 999 immediately and ask for the Police.”