Scotland’s weather: Snow warning for climbers

CLIMBERS and hillwalkers have been warned by the Met Office to beware wintry conditions on Scotland’s peaks over the next few days.
Mountaineers and climbers have been warned about possible snow fall this week. Picture: TSPLMountaineers and climbers have been warned about possible snow fall this week. Picture: TSPL
Mountaineers and climbers have been warned about possible snow fall this week. Picture: TSPL

Forecasters have urged those taking to the hills and mountains to take careful note of weather forecasts and to prepare for possible blizzards.

The Met Office has issued a wanring saying the bitterly cold and strong northerly winds will present some very challenging conditions with some snow, particularly over the mountains of Scotland.

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However, conditions should improve for hillwalkers over the weekend.

Met Office Chief Forecaster, Martin Young said: “Although we are well into May we will see some very difficult conditions on the mountains, especially on Thursday.

“On the tops of the mountains in Scotland we could see winds gusting up to 80 mph, giving blizzard conditions in the snow and making things very hazardous.

“Whether it’s a pre-planned expedition or a spur of the moment decision to head off, it is vital to check the mountain forecasts on the Met Office website.”

Bob Kinnaird, Principal of Glenmore Lodge the Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre, said: “Although it’s not that unusual to encounter winter conditions on the Scottish hills at this time of year, this is a very severe forecast for the high tops.

“While this still leaves plenty of options to enjoy the hills, careful consideration should be given to planning and route choice, particularly for those who have little experience of mountaineering in Scottish winter conditions.”

As well as checking mountain forecasts in advance, he said walkers should follow basic safety advice, including wearing appropriate clothing and carrying equipment and food in case the weather changes.

People should make sure the walk is suitable for their ability and to carry a mobile phone, but not to rely on it.

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And he stressed that walkers and climbers should always tell someone where they are going and when they expect to return.

Meanwhile, an excellent snowsports season at CairnGorm Mountain has finally drawn to a close with the resort declaring that conditions will not allow them to open for snowsports again this season.

They have had 113,582 skier/boarder days in a season which started on 1 December and finished on 19 May, more than twice last season’s total but not quite reaching the 120,000 or 140,000 of the two exceptional seasons prior to that.

CairnGorm opened for snowsports on 139 days during this period but lost a larger than normal number of days to storms.

The resort could not open on 29 days, on ten of which the road was closed.

The average number of stormed off days in a season is 19.

The four snow guns which they had in use this season were deployed to good effect from the end of November, enabling the resort to get off to a prompt start and at frequent intervals during the season.

CairnGorm Mountain Chief Executive Ian Whitaker said: “It has been a great season. We were particularly fortunate with the timing of heavy snowfalls just prior to our busiest periods of February half term and the Easter holiday period and then good overhead conditions during those times.

“This enabled us to maximize our numbers. I need to pay tribute also to the work of our operations and piste grooming team in getting the slopes into such good condition which many of our customers have commented on.

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“With so much of the hill and so many of the tows open throughout the season queuing times were kept to a minimum as early arrivals were quickly dispersed on to the pistes and the separation of customers who need to hire equipment from those who only needed tickets also helped greatly in this regard.”