Police Scotland and Mountain Rescue teams urge climbers and walkers to stay safe this winter

By Bill Heaney

Police Scotland, in partnership with Scottish Mountain Rescue, is urging people to plan and prepare before venturing out into the hills this winter and make sure they have sufficient equipment and supplies for all eventualities.

This follows a number of serious incidents. In a short period, between 27 February, 2022, and 8 March, 2022, seven people lost their lives.

Mountain rescue teams don’t just assist with incidents on the top of hills, but in all outdoor areas and from January 2022 to 14 December, 2022, they were involved in incidents where 33 people lost their lives.

Already there is deep snow across the Long Crags, the Old KIlpatrick, Auchencarroch and Loch Lomondside Hills, and much of the West Highlands.

Temperatures are widely into negative double figures. On the weekend of Friday, 9 December, 2022, to Sunday, 11 December, mountain rescue teams were called out four times to assist people in difficulty or injured.

Throughout the winter season Police Scotland will be working in partnership with Scottish Mountain Rescue, Glenmore Lodge and Mountaineering Scotland to promote the 2022/2023 #ThinkWINTER campaign which provides simple and vital information to help keep people safe.

Inspector Matt Smith, lead officer for Mountain Rescue, said: “The end of last winter was particularly challenging with volunteer mountain rescue teams seeing a huge rise in incidents responding to people in difficulty. From January to March 2022, there was a 31% rise compared with the average over the same three month period in the previous three years.

“Winter conditions significantly increase the risk in the hills and mountains. Extremes of weather, snow and ice as well as a lack of daylight mean that the consequences of a slip or fall are more significant than during the summer months.

“Anyone going into the hills should plan ahead, check activity specific weather forecasts and keep within their own capabilities. Always carry sufficient clothing, equipment and food to manage if conditions become harsh or should you find yourself needing help.

“Make sure someone knows your route plan for the day and if you do find yourself lost, injured or otherwise needing urgent assistance, call 999. Ask first for the Police and then ask for Mountain Rescue.”

Mountain Rescue in Scotland is carried out by around 850 highly skilled volunteers organised in local rescue teams that cover the whole of the country. There are also four Police Scotland mountain rescues teams and on RAF team.

Mountain Rescue is free at the point of demand and available 24/7. Funding relies heavily on donations from the public, without which the service could not exist.

Scottish Mountain Rescue, a registered charity, is the representative body working nationally in Scotland to support Mountain Rescue Teams. It represents 25 of the 28 volunteer civilian mountain rescue teams in Scotland. 

  • The Scottish Mountain Rescue service was founded last century by Dumbarton dentist Ben Humble whose family lived at Bellfield in West Bridgend and whose father was the managing director at Dennystown Forge.

More information can be found here: www.scottishmountainrescue.org

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