Top Tips For A Safe Fun Winter Season

Ideas by Chris, words by Anne

In a previous blog post we shared some tips on how to get more out of your time in the mountains. Here we’re giving you tips specific to winter walking and climbing. It comes down to three things: people, equipment, and environment. You can control the first two, but not the third, but with good planning you can make sure you stay safe and have fun.

LW 13.01 Lake District winter mountaineering 04 resized.jpg

1. People

Choose your partner carefully - your life may depend on it, even more so in winter than in the summer. Choose someone more experienced, and someone you know you can spend big chunks of time with. Two absolute beginners winter climbing together could be a recipe for disaster. But equally you need someone you can trust – with your well-being and your life.

If no-one fits the bill, then consider hiring a Guide for a couple of days. Yes – it will cost you. But you can take advantage of someone else’s hard work and experience and save yourself immeasurable amounts of time and energy. You won’t believe how much you can learn in a short space of time.

SW 11.01 BMG training 013 winter climbing rs.jpg

2. Equipment

The amount of energy you expend on a winter day out can vary hugely, depending on the amount of snow, whether it is hard or soft underfoot, and how windy it is. Plan for the worst case. Make sure you have enough warm clothing and food to keep going longer than you’re expecting to be out. Thinking about things that might seem unimportant, like which gloves you take, can really have an impact on your enjoyment.

When you are moving about you will be working hard, so you will be warm. As soon as you stop, you will cool down very quickly. Having a good belay jacket will make the difference between a good day and a miserable one.

Always take a map and a compass, and know how to use them in winter conditions. Depending on your chosen route, and the weather conditions, will you need crampons and ice axe? Do you know how to use them?

If you’re not sure exactly what to take, download our comprehensive winter kit list.

SW 12.01 01 Scotland Uni Cumbria winter climbing rs.jpg

3. Environment

Winter weather in the UK is notoriously fickle, and getting good quality information is really important when you are planning your day. There are many sources of weather info, but these all give useful information:

Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS)

Lake District Weatherline

Live winter conditions on Great End in the Lake District and Cwm Idwal in north Wales

sportscotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS)

UKClimbing Winter Conditions Page

What’s next?

If you’re psyched and super-keen to get out there, but not sure where to start, these articles give some excellent recommendations:

Grade I Winter: 12 Must-Do Routes

Winter Ridges for Walkers and Mountaineers

LW 13.01 Lake District winter mountaineering 12 rs.jpg