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Luke Roberts

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Bag A munro – that is the challenge your being invited to take part in to celebrate 100 years since the death of the man who gave his name to the 3,000 ft+ mountains.

Are you up for the challenge.

Whether you are a hill walker, climber or fell runner – the challenge is simple, summit one of Scotland’s munros within the next 12 months.

If you have already summited one or more, instead why don’t you encourage a friend who has never experienced the summit and get them to top and experience what we all have.

Do your part for the Environment:

The University of Dundee doesn’t want you to just summit the mountains, they also would like you to take an empty bag with you and fill it full of rubbish.

Each participant will be featured in an art publication which will document your mountain experience.

Eddie Summerton from the university’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, said: “The diversity of walkers who have signed up so far is fantastic.

“Of course we have some of Scotland’s walking clubs and serious munrobaggers, who have already mapped out their weekends ahead with walks and climbs but we also have folk who are signing up who are returning to the hills for the first time in years, with a child or grandchild to accompany them.

“We’ve heard from a school teacher who is selecting the nearest munro to the school to include the walk in her class project and also a seriously ill walker, determined to participate in this ‘big walk’ to acknowledge their resistance to the illness.

“This year-long celebration of our hills is goes beyond the legacy of Sir Hugh Munro. It recognises the incredible infrastructure of volunteers who keep paths open, the national parks, the environmental charities and the right to roam.

MUNRO mountains
Image Source: bbc.co.uk

“All of these help make Scotland one of the most spectacular places to walk.”

As well as getting more people to explore Scotland, the munro table project aims to plant 282 high altitude indigenous tress for each mountain climbed. This is partnership with Trees for Life, the aim being to help restore the unique wildlife-rich habitat called montane scrub.

The project will launch tomorrow on 19th March. 100 years after the death of Sir Hugh Munro. He was the first person to create a detailed list of Scotlands peaks over 3,000 ft.

You are able to choose from an online list and there is still quite a few to pick.

Please be careful of the dangerous of winter walking and follow the advice from the scottish mountaineering experts and to check the weather before travelling. You have a year to summit these wonderful peaks so if you are a little bit in experienced or taking a friend that has never done it before (would highly recommend you do) then it might be advisable to wait till the summer months.

If you have no experience in mountain walking, while the organisers are suggesting you don’t take part, my advice would be to either find a official company to help you or search online for organised groups and ask if you can join them, you might make some new friends along the way.

More details are on the Munro Table website.

Outdoor enthusiasts are being advised to check the weather information before venturing out. Mountain experts from Scotland have issued the warning for the Highlands, but the advice applies everywhere – knowing the weather forecasts allows you to plan and take the right gear.

Mountaineering Scotland said, that hikers and other people heading to the area should plan carefully but also not be obsessed with one route, but will to adapt to the local conditions.

The deaths of three men recently on the North Face of Ben Nevis caused by an avalanche which also left one man in the hospital has caused the organisation team to issue the message.

Mountaineering Scotland, which represents mountaineers, hill walkers, climbers and snow sports enthusiasts in north of the border said that you should pay close attention to weather and avalanche forecasts and alter your plans accordingly. A spokesperson for the organisation said “Winter has now come back with a vengeance, but the sudden and heavy snowfall, combined with lower temperatures and high winds has produced snow conditions that can fluctuate rapidly, as well as rapid changes between hostile and benign weather.

“The Scottish Avalanche Information Service has recorded five avalanches in the West Highlands in the last 48 hours, highlighting the unstable nature of the snowpack.”

Winter hiking in scotland
Image Source www.mountaineering.scot

Heather Morning, who is the mountain safety adviser for the organisation said: “Mountain conditions in February were unusually mild, resulting in the majority of the mountains being snow-free.

“However, over the past few days winter has very much returned.

“When you’re heading up into the hills, whether it’s for walking, climbing or skiing, it’s absolutely essential not only that you check the avalanche forecast but also that you understand what it’s saying. Different slopes on the same hill may have completely different snow conditions.

“A careful study of the mountain weather forecast is also an essential part of your planning, and your planned route should be finalised with that forecast in mind.

“Something else to be mindful of is being flexible. Don’t become fixated on achieving your original goal. As conditions on the hill change, then so should your decision making. Often I end up on Plan B, C or D as my journey on the hill progresses.”

Isla Campbell, who is the Police Scotland Inspector said: “We do not want to put anyone off enjoying the great outdoors activities we have here in Scotland but we would ask that people plan their routes, take sensible precautions and consider whether it is safe to climb a particular route.

“The environment of the Scottish mountains is by its very nature an unpredictable one and it is important that people take as many precautions and plan ahead as much as possible if they are going to go climbing, especially at this time of year.

 

Winter in the Cairngorms

“Detailed information about weather conditions and avalanche risk are available from agencies including the Scottish Avalanche Information Service and we would encourage climbers to look at this information before heading out on the mountains. Be prepared to alter your routes or plans if there are indications that inclement weather or avalanches could affect your climb.”

The Scottish Mountain Rescue, vice chair, Kev Mitchell said: “We encourage people to make use of all available information, including weather and avalanche forecasts.

“It is important to plan your day taking into account the conditions, ensure you are prepared to make safe decisions based on the weather and environment you are in and the group you are with.”

So before heading to the hills wherever they might be, check the weather before heading out and if there has been snow recently, check avalanche risks etc, don’t put yourself or mountain rescue lives in danger.

Once you know the weather, then it’s vital you have the right equipment for the conditions.

The message here is not to not explore places during bad weather but to understand the conditions and plan accordingly. The same spot can change dramatically throughout the year and I would highly recommend you visit the places in the different seasons to appreciate its beauty.

Its also knowing your level and limits, if you have never really been walking before and only done a bit of rambling, to think you can go and summit Ben Nevis during winter isn’t the best of ideas, however if you have done lots of winter hiking and have already summited Ben Nevis during the summer and autumn seasons then it might be ok for you to try (so long as the weather conditions are suitable and there are no avalanche warnings).

Happy exploring and stay safe.

 

Many popular routes in the Yorkshire Dales have been left flooded after heavy rain.

Don’t attempt the Yorkshire Three Peaks is the simple message from the Cave Rescue Organisation.

A section of the 39km (24-mile) route between Pen-y-ghent and Ribblehead is under water.

Check out the below video from their Facebook page which shows the current flooding.

The team said: “Anybody, individuals or organisations, doing the Three Peaks today – the track over the meadows at Nether Lodge is submerged with fast-flowing water from the River Ribble.

“With continuing rainfall today, this will only get worse.

“You are strongly advised not to cross fast flowing floodwater. If you’re doing the Three Peaks today; don’t!

“Turn around and go back via Birkwith and the Pennine Way to Horton in Ribblesdale.”

It would also be advisable to avoid the area for the coming days while the water recede.

With no more rain expected the water levels will drop. Today is the last day of this storm and from Sunday the weather is expected to improve.

 

This has been updated with the latest recommendations.

The origianl press release which we have left below, has been misquoted, even by myself. However there recommednation is to check the weather, make sure you have the right gear and stay safe.

In these conditions, it can be a lot more dangerous, especially with reduced visibility, paths covered in snow and deep holes filled with snow making them difficult to spot.

What ever you decide to do, stay safe.

The original press release was prepared with minimal input by us and the quote was not provided by us,” said Gruff Owen, Llanberis MRT. “Our preference is to share safety information and give hill-goers the information that they need to stay safe and have an enjoyable time in the mountains. We would never suggest that people stay away from the mountains in a blanket statement like this one.”

While The Great Outdoors recommends that experienced mountain-goers continue to use their own judgement in gauging mountain conditions, Snowdonia National Park Authority has advised that “in these conditions mountaineers should stay off the slopes of Snowdon and other peaks until the Met Office’s red warning for snow conditions, which is the most severe warning, has been downgraded. Once conditions have improved, anyone who ventures onto the hills must have the appropriate experience and skills and all the necessary equipment.”

For those unfamiliar with the mountain, the paths are difficult to navigate, and one wrong step could prove fatal. If walkers are not wearing appropriate clothing that can withstand such cold and harsh conditions, hypothermia is an additional threat.

Adam Daniel, the Snowdonia National Park Authority’s Head of Wardens Service stated: “Although Snowdonia’s snow-covered mountains are very pretty to look at, conditions on the ground itself is extremely dangerous. We kindly ask those who are thinking about going out in these conditions to seriously consider if they are willing to put their own lives and others’ at risk.”

Below is the original article.

The bosses of the National Park are advising mountaineers to stay of the peaks during the bad weather.

While Snowdon has been under snow for some time, the authority is
said the recent spell of snow showers means that the conditions on the
mountains are extreme and should be avoided.

Remember its not just your life you are risking, if you get into
trouble then mountain resuce will be called out.

 “The first layer of snow
has now frozen and compacted, and with the accumulation of fresh snow there is
a high likelihood of avalanches,” a spokesperson said.

“In these conditions mountaineers should stay off the slopes of Snowdon and other peaks until the Met Office’s red warning for snow conditions, which is the most severe warning, has been downgraded. Once conditions have improved, anyone who ventures onto the hills must have the appropriate experience and skills and all the necessary equipment.

“For
those unfamiliar with the mountain, the paths are very difficult to navigate,
and one wrong step could prove fatal. If walkers are not wearing appropriate
clothing that can withstand such cold and harsh conditions, hypothermia is an
additional threat.”

The national park authority provides a ground-condition monitoring
service on Snowdon. Information can be accessed by following the bilingual
@snowdonweather Twitter account, and the same information is available on the mountain weather section of the Met Office website.

The National Trust is seeking permission to build and install a new ladder up the Bowder Stone in the Lake District.

Located in Borrowdale, the huge boulder has been a tourist attraction for over a century.

The aim of the National Trust is to get enable more non-climbers to reach the top of the stone by creating a metal ladder.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “The 9.3m- [30ft-] long ladder will replace one made on site in the 1980s of local timber.

“For the first time, it will be made of metal, to a design that restores the excitement of a climb and descent, and the slender, airy, profile of the original ladder.”

Chris Brammel a local Cumbrian architectural and sculptural metalworker will make the ladder. It will incorporate feedback from the local climbing community as well as the Lake District National Park Partnership and the local planning authority.

Harvery Wilkinson who is a National Trust curator said: “We’re restoring the excitement of a visit to one of the strangest and once most famous Lake District attractions.

Bowder Stone - large andesite lava boulder

“Once we have planning permission Chris Brammel can start work. We expect the new ladder to be in place next spring so there’s now a rare opportunity to take a photo of the stone without its ladder.”

The Bowder Stone, is a huge rock, roughly six times the height of a person and is estimated to weigh around 1,253 tonnes. It is commonly understood that the rock would have fallen from the crags above after the last ice-age and coming to its rest at its current improbable angle.

The Bowder Stone was bought back in 1910 by the National Trust using money from public subscriptions and since then it has been their responsibility for the care and conservation of the boulder.

A spokesperson for the trust said the Bowder Stone is a good example of how the Lake District landscape has been changed by humans. “In its heyday, the stone would have been seen for miles around, as depicted by artists and photographers of the day,” the spokesperson said. “It is now surrounded by woodland that is a site of special scientific interest.”

Now I can’t see any downsides to this, it makes it safer, allows more people to enjoy the summit and makes memories for future generations.

In fact, if someone created a Go Fund Me page to help with funding I would definitely contribute as it will help bring more people to the wonderful Lake District.

If you are in the region, I would highly recommend you take a detour and visit the stone and make take a photo or two.

As winter takes hold in the Highlands, experts are urging hikers in Scotland to prepare for their trips to the mountains.

A campaign called ThinkWinters aim is simple. To increase the awareness of hazards faced by people exploring the Scottish Highlands this winter. Whether they are hikers, climbers, hillwalkers, mountaineers or anyone heading out to the hills this winter.

The campaign was the a co-operated idea from seven different organisations. Its target audience is aimed both at experienced hikers and those heading for the winter hills for the first time and have less experience.

The campaign is using a combination of social media and traditional methods to spread the messages on safety and making it safer for people to explore the hills this winter.

It all kicked off last weeked at the Scottish Mountain Rescue annual conference at Glenmore Lodge and culminates at the annual launch of the Sportscotland Scottish Avalanche information service this Friday.

Those involved in ThinkWinter are mountain safety including Scottish Mountain Rescue, Mountaineering Scotland, Glenmore Lodge, the Association of Mountaineering Instructors, SAIS, the Mountain Weather Information Service and Police Scotland.

A spokesperson for  Mountaineering Scotland said: “Winter has well and truly arrived in Scotland’s mountains and thousands of enthusiasts will be taking to the hills for mountaineering, ice-climbing and snowsports touring, making the most of a season that for many offers the best mountain experiences of the year.

“But the rollcall of accidents over the years underlines the extra hazards faced during the winter season and the need for those going into the hills to ensure they have the necessary experience and equipment and have made proper preparations.”

Topics covered will include raising awareness of the challenges involved, planning, navigation, being prepared for weather and avalanche hazards, and what to do in an emergency. While some of these seem basic – everything is a little bit more difficult in snow.

Mountain safety adviser with Mountaineering Scotland, Heather Morning said: “Scotland’s winter mountains offer some truly magical experiences, but they be gnarly and challenging.

“If you want to get the best out of your mountain adventures then you have to be sure you are properly prepared and have all the skills required.”

Principal at Glenmore Lodge, the national outdoor training centre, Shaun Roberts said: “Successful adventures this winter will require well informed decision making.

“Front-load your activities with some quality time spent assessing the critical information: mountain weather, avalanche forecasts, underfoot conditions, the nature of the terrain.

“Understand your own motivations for your trip to the mountains and find like-minded people to experience them with, ensuring an open dialogue about your plans, you capabilities and equipment.”

Vice chairman of the Scottish Mountain Rescue, Kev Mitchell said: “We would always encourage people to enjoy the hills in winter. However, it’s absolutely vital that you are prepared.

“Leave earlier to get back earlier because of the lack of light, and adapt your day to the conditions. Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and kept in a warm place, and not used for navigation.

“Mapping software for phones is great but it eats up batteries, especially in winter conditions.”

One of the coordinators of the Scottish Avalanche Information service, Mark Diggins said: “As the winter season begins we should start to prepare for the normal challenges that we will be faced with in Scotland’s mountains.

“Getting good information helps any mountain enthusiast decide where to go and what to do. Avalanche reports and other useful information can be obtained from the Scottish Avalanche Information Service, and the Met Office, and MWIS websites.”

While this is campaign is being run to make Scotland and specifically Scottish Highlands safeter to explore, the advice can be used wherever you are planning on winter hiking this year.

Don’t forget to purchase essential winter clothing, while the weather might seem ok or good when you set off it can quickly change. Make sure you are prepared.

If you are heading for example to the Lake District – you can get a daily update on current snow conditions before you set off, allowing you to either change your route or pack different equipment.

There are many ways to be prepared and to make it a much safer experience for both you and the mountain rescue teams.

If you are heading to Snowdonia over the coming months, then mountain rescues are warning hikers and climbers of a potentially hazardous boulder.

A large stone block on the slopes of Tryan was spotted by mountain rescuers during a recent incident on the east face of the mountain.

Member of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation was called out on Saturday to help with two hikers who were stuck near the bottom of North Gully. The pair had been aiming for the safer route into Little Gully but missed the path and had to be brought to safety by rescue team members

It was during this time that the team members noticed a large boulder just below the junction of the two gullies, which they estimated to weigh about four tons.

Ogwen Valley Snowdonia National park North Wales UK

The large stone block is perched on rocks and solid above Heather Terrace and North Gully. It is thought a heavy rain storm may have eroded some of the soil.

Both the National Trust, which owns the mountain and the Snowdonia National Park Authority have been altered by the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation.

North Gully and Little Gully combine into a scramble route that can be used to ascent and descent the East Face of the mountain and emerges close to the summit of the North Ridge.

With bad weather forecast they are worried about the large rock sliding down the mountain any further and hurting someone. There is no immediate threat to life – it’s just a warning to be careful and observation if you are in the area.

The boulder and debris from an earlier fall in the Western Gully. Photo: Chris Lloyd/Ogwen Valley MRO
The boulder and debris from an earlier fall in the Western Gully. Photo: Chris Lloyd/Ogwen Valley MRO


It follows a similar sized boulder which earlier this year rolled down the opposite side of the mountain. That rock left marks on the footpath on the Western Gully during its 75m fall down the hill.

I don’t want to stop you heading to the area, in fact while I haven’t visited for a few years I have quite a few great memories from the area – its a lovely place to hike and explore.

I just want you to do it safely.

A man scrambling in the Lake District had to be airlifted to hospital after falling.

He was on Cam Crag in Langstrath on Saturday and in a party of four when the incident happened.

The man slipped and fell between 3m and 4m injuring his lower leg when tacking a ridge on the Crag, south of Stonethwaite.

Of the party then climbed to the top of the Cam Crag to get a phone signal while the rest of the party used a group shelter to protest the injured man from the elements. The day was cold, wet and windy so the shelter came in very handy.

The Coastguard helicopter and rescuers at the scene. Photo- Keswick MRT
The Coastguard helicopter and rescuers at the scene. Photo- Keswick MRT

There was no indication that the man had done anything wrong, or had the wrong gear – it was just an accident.


Keswick Mountain Rescue Team was called out about 1.10pm after the alarm was raised.

A spokesperson for the team said: “The first Keswick MRT members arrived at the scene and due to the location and nature of the injury requested a helicopter evacuation.

“The casualty was then packaged and flown to the Cumberland Infirmary.”

The 3¾-hour rescue involved 17 volunteers from the Keswick team, along with the crew of the Coastguard helicopter.



I do love my job, but if I had to give up my current job I think this might be one I would swap it with.

The first of December marks the start of meteorological winter but more importantly means the strat one of the most unusual but in my opinion the coolest seasonal jobs in the whole of the UK.

The job runs until April and between then and now one of the Lakes Districts National Parks specialist felltop assessors will make the daily climb to the summit of Helvellyn to asses snow and ground conditions and produce a daily report for outdoor enthusiasts.

Helvellyn is the third highest mountain in England.

The services which are run by the national park authority is there to provide vital safety information for everyone heading to the lake district over the winter months. The three members are Graham Uney, Zac Poulton and Jon Bennett, their reports are published on the Weatherline site and on twitter. The service predates the internet and started over 31 years ago as a telephone service.

Mr Uney said: “This is now my fifth year as a felltop assessor and each season I have to pinch myself as I really do believe I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world.

“Although Helvellyn isn’t the highest peak in the Lake District its east-facing position means that it’s often in better winter condition than our higher fells.

“It’s also the busiest, most popular mountain in the Lakes during the winter months, so it’s important that we give detailed ground conditions reports from here throughout the season to keep walkers, climbers and skiers better informed. Our service will make sure that people can get an extremely accurate ground conditions report of what to expect on our highest fells, backed up with the latest Met Office weather forecast.”

It’s not just ground conditions that the three guys will be producing, they will be giving regular hints and tips, guides on keeping safe on the mountains, essential winter backpack items as well as some of the views of the mountains over the coming months.

We have covered a few times on here, but recently hikers have been getting rescued from avoidable situations by not following the advice given by professionals.

A member of Wasdale Mountain Rescue, Richard Warren advises that traditional navigation using map and compass is essential in winter conditions. Richard is also the chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association so he sees a lot of walkers who go out ill-prepared.

While he doesn’t say to avoid using GPS technology, he says it’s best not to rely solely on mobile phone technology to navigate the Lake District.

He said: “If you’re planning a trip to the mountains this winter we urge you to plan your day. When there is snow on the tops an ice axe and crampons are essential pieces of kit and know your limitations. If you’re unused to navigating in the dark, it can be extremely disorienting.

“Sometimes, the bravest decision is to turn around and go back. Those peaks will still be there another day. “

It is not just the weather service that the felltop association offers. They also offer s one-day specialist winter skills courses to help prepare those attempting some of the higher summits as well as sharing their knowledge of winter hiking.

The courses which are geared towards adults who want to learn more about how to deal with the extreme weather conditions that the British winters can throw up.

The courses teach essential winter mountaineering skills like how to use crampons and ice axes correctly as well as advice and guidance on essential kit for winter trekking. You can accompany one of the felltop assessors on his duties. It’s a real hands-on type of course.

Trekking in the snow is so much different to hiking at any other time of the year, the course teaches you key navigation skills to help climbers identify safe routes as well as identify landmarks in the snow.

On this year’s inaugural event, the three men were joined by two members of the public, who learnt firsthand to hike safely during the winter months once the snow starts to fall.

For this year’s inaugural assessors’ ascent, the three men were joined by two members of the public who learned first-hand how to winterise their approach to walking once there are snow and ice on the fells.

Darryl Ramage and friend Lynne Morrison were the winners of a national park competition, selected from more than 1,000 entries to accompany the felltop assessors on their season launch and take part in a private winter skills course.

Mr Ramage, from Dumbarton in Scotland, said: “We’re frequent walkers in the hills and mountains of Scotland have been all over Europe on expeditions. From Germany to Poland to Slovenia to Italy but we’ve never been lucky enough to climb in the Lake District so we are realising a lifetime ambition today.

“We’ve been following Weatherline for the last couple of weeks and were celebrating the first fall of snow on the fells, it’s a fantastic resource to make sure you get an accurate idea of the weather and conditions on the fell tops.

“Although we are both quite experienced climbers we are by no means experts so we are absolutely delighted to be learning from the best today.

“We’ve picked up a lot of safety information and numerous hints and tips. It’s been great. We can’t wait to get back to the Lake District soon to put our new skills to good use.”

The Lake District Weatherline is partly funded by sponsors Columbia and Petzl and George Fisher.

Mountain Hardwear sponsors the clothing, while Petzl provides the mountain equipment.

So if you are thinking of heading to the Lakes this winter, we would highly recommend you do, if you think its beautiful in the summer – wait till you have seen it in the winter. It’s like a different place, even familiar routes change.

Just make sure you check the weather forecast and pack accordingly.

We have covered recently a few stories recently about people being under-equipped or not have the knowledge to be safely out in the hills, but this one is just a case of getting lost in poor conditions.

This can happen to the most experienced of hikers when the weather changes quickly.

Rescuers were dispatched to help two walkers who had got lost on the side of one of Yorkshire’s three peaks.

The Cave Rescue Organisation received a call from police after a woman called to report herself lost in the poor weather on Pen-y-Ghent Side on the north-west slopes on Sunday. The

Rescuers went to the aid of two walkers who got lost on the flanks of one of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks. It is the smallest of the three peaks at 964m (2,277ft).

The team was called out around 11:40 am.

The woman had set out to climb Pen-y-Ghent with another friend but due to bad visibility became ‘misplaced’ according to a spokesperson.

“Despite a poor signal, the police control staff were able to get a location for the caller before losing the call,” the spokesperson said.

“A small team was dispatched to locate the walker, and as they approached the reported position, they came across her, with a companion, making their way towards Hull Pot.

“They were none the worse for their experience, and were escorted back to their car at Horton in Ribblesdale.”

There are things which can be done to reduce the need to call for help, knowing the route, having a backup route, taking the right gear, knowing that it gets dark pretty early this time of the year.

It was only last week we share a warning about not ditching vital gear to save weight, but if you need to call out the Mountain rescue then its pretty straightforward.


Call 999 – ask for the Police and then Ask for Mountain Rescue.

Things to help make it easier for them to find you:

  • knowing your exact location – obviously, if you are lost you won’t know your exact location, but if your calling due to someone being ill or injured then this info can be very useful
  • The route you were planning on taking, while they can use your phone signal to try and locate you this just puts you in a
  • Before call making note of important information like:
    • Number of people in your party,
    • if an accident details of the injured party, name, gender, age, nature of injuries
  • Once you have made the call – DO NOT change your location unless instructed by Mountain rescue – they will be using your phone’s location data as a point to aim for.

Remember if you dial 999 and your phone can’t connect to your network but another network is available it will try and connect.

I always carry one of these with me – it might be old, but the battery life is just amazing.

Remember there is no shame in calling in for help, while I personally have never had to do it if I was in danger I wouldn’t think twice about making the call.

After all, that’s why these great men and women volunteer to help people in distress – if they weren’t there I probably wouldn’t explore as many new places as I do.

Now if people go under-equipped or without basics like a map and compass I can see it must get frustrating for them, but if you are ever in doubt just make the call.