Warning over dangerous snow and ice amid rise in mountain rescues

Police Scotland said rescue teams had seen a 40% rise in callouts in recent weeks than the previous average.

Warning over dangerous snow and ice conditions on Scotland’s mountains amid rise in rescues iStock

Hillwalkers are being warned not to get caught out by potentially dangerous snow and ice conditions on Scotland’s mountains as we head into warmer weather.

Police Scotland said rescue teams had seen a 40% rise in callouts in recent weeks than the previous average.

The emergencies have included multiple slips, trips and falls due to widespread frosty conditions high in the mountains.

Inspector Matt Smith, Police Scotland’s mountain rescue coordinator, said: “Dozens of [people] have been assisted and a number of tragic deaths have resulted.”

Mountaineering groups said warmer days followed by frosty nights had created a “deadly skating rink” for anyone not equipped with crampons and an ice axe.

Mountaineering Scotland, Scottish Mountain Rescue and sportscotland National Outdoor Training Centre Glenmore Lodge are among the organisations urging hillwalkers to take extra care.

Ben Gibson, mountain safety adviser for Mountaineering Scotland, said: “You can go from soft snow to hard ice in just a step in the mountains just now and, without crampons, keeping your feet can be impossible.

“Even on a gradual slope, if you lose your footing you can start to slide and very quickly build up momentum that can take you onto steeper ground, over rocks or over the edge of a cliff.

“On ice or harder snow it can feel easier to keep a grip going uphill, so you may not realise how precarious your situation is until you turn around and try to come back down.

“Properly fitted crampons can ensure you don’t slip in the first place, and an ice axe gives you the means to stop a slip becoming an uncontrolled slide and fall.

“If you do come across unavoidable snow or ice, consider carefully whether you want to continue to the summit.

“Just because others are doing it, [it] doesn’t make it any safer or appropriate for you.

“Good judgement of the conditions is an important part of keeping yourself safe when enjoying a day in the mountains.”

If you are ever in need of assistance while hillwalking, dial 999.

For more advice and information, click here.

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