Hill Walkers And Climbers Urged To Prepare Properly And Safely

Police and mountaineering experts have urged hill walkers and climbers to think of their safety before they venture into the Scottish mountains.

A series of mountain rescue incidents and severe weather warnings have led Police Scotland, Mountaineering Scotland and the UK Coastguard to remind people to be prepared before they head to the hills.

Walkers, snow sports enthusiasts, climbers and mountaineers are asked to tell a friend or family of their intentions in case they need help from UK Coastguard's search-and-rescue helicopter service.

Superintendent Colin Gough, of Police Scotland, said: ''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.

''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.''

Heather Morning, mountain safety adviser with Mountaineering Scotland, said: ''We're advising people to plan ahead, especially regarding their route; to be aware of the weather and avalanche hazard; to carry the right equipment and know how to use it; and, if unsure, find a winter mountaineering course to update those essential skills.''

Damien Oliver, assistant director for aviation for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), said: ''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.''

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