Winter in the mountains – Should you be there?
We spent the last week in Snowdonia enjoying some amazing conditions that we were very lucky to have the time to enjoy.
We are also incredibly lucky to have the skills and equipment to do it safely.
There are so many photos on social media of people enjoying the snow capped peaks in the UK with nothing but trainers and a parker, leading many people into a false sense of security.
On the drive back to reality I was looking through Instagram and came across someone on the North Face of Tryfan, looking happy and confident and totally unscathed. The thing is, I remember seeing that person, in a pair of trainers scrambling to the top. At one point they were encouraging their friends to do the same. While listening to their shouting over my head, I was stood in Crampons, in an exposed spot. If one of them had slipped where I was stood, without the ability to arrest their fall, they would have died.
The same day, someone died on Snowdon. The day before, mountain rescue had been on the Pyg Track taking care of another unprepared walker, just like they’d done the day before that.
We descended the Pyg Track that day, the path was narrow and the compressed snow slippery. My hand was firmly wrapped around my ice axe in case a fall needed arresting and each step was met with grip and surety thanks to the 10 spikes firmly strapped to my winter boots. In that moment, we could have been on any mountain in the world.
If you want to enjoy the mountains in winter, hire a guide or take a winter skills course.
Buy or hire the correct kit and learn how to use it correctly.
Never ignore the warning of the warden: CRAMPONS AND ICE AXE ESSENTIAL means they’re ESSENTIAL!
Turn back before it’s too late. If it’s exposed, slippery or a mixture of the both turn around before you get hurt. People may get to the top and take amazing Instagram photos, but they may not be so lucky the next time.
Spare a thought for the Mountain Rescue Volunteers who leave their family at home to assist the injured after a misadventure.
Remember, the mountains will always be there tomorrow, but you only get one life. We love a good adventure, but never let the Insta-tweeters let you think that the Mountains of the UK aren’t dangerous, especially in winter. Sadly, they claim lives every year. Many avoidable with a bit of training and the correct kit.
If you’re posting photos of yourself in places you’re not skilled or equipped to be: Stop It. You’re putting the lives of others at risk by influencing dangerous behaviour.