Toilet break warning for climbers in Scotland

Ben Nevis has been singled out, due to the fact it is covered with snow throughout summer due to its location and height. Picture: Complimentary
Ben Nevis has been singled out, due to the fact it is covered with snow throughout summer due to its location and height. Picture: Complimentary
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A WARNING has gone out to hillwalkers and climbers needing the toilet while snow remains on Scotland’s peaks.

It was only last month when Heather Morning, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland’s safety advisor, warned how mobile phones and metal in bras were affecting the correct functioning of the compass, an essential navigation tool for travelling in the mountains.

She has now ‘lowered her sights’ to highlight another very real danger – taking a ‘comfort break’ in an inopportune place.

The Scottish mountains still hold snow long into the spring and early summer.

These snow patches will often be hard and located high up on the shady, north side of the mountain.

Many traditional mountain routes cross through such terrain and are the usual choice for Munro baggers.

Hill walkers are advised to treat these old snow patches with caution, particularly if the ‘run out’ below is over steep ground.

Route choice is really important and hill walkers should consider a ‘snow free’ alternative or simply turn around.

Heather said: “Ladies should be particularly careful regarding their choice of location to take a pee.

“A friend of mine, in a bid to search out somewhere discrete, out of the sight of the rest of the party, stepped onto an old patch of snow and headed off down the hill with her pants round her ankles.

“Fortunately, she only slid a few metres onto grass and the only thing that was hurt was her pride.”

Carey Davies, the British Mountaineering Council’s (BMC) hill walking officer, said: “When spring arrives a lot of people feel the pull of the mountains and want to get outdoors again. But sometimes people get caught out at this time of year.

“While it may feel like spring has sprung at low levels, up on the mountain tops it can be a very different story.

“Mountains in Scotland often hold areas or patches of snow well into summer. The higher mountains, like Ben Nevis, are never snow free.

“And because they’re further north and often higher they can have a lot more snow on them than the uplands of England and Wales.

“If you’re going into the hills remember you may encounter the white stuff – anything from the odd patch to large areas. So be prepared.”