There are those times in winter when we have a perfect sunny day, no wind and stunning vistas for miles around. Then there are those days when we have 40mph winds with a cloud base hovering at the car park and the only view around is your mate and an expectant look as if to say “are we actually going out in this today?!”
If this sounds familiar, then read on for our 10 top tips that will make your walk/climb/ski more enjoyable, whatever the weather….
Water – if you’re like me and don’t drink enough on the hill, make sure you hydrate when you get back instead. Take a flask of something hot to drink too, even better if it’s sugary, rather than a hydration bladder – they like to freeze up, even if they have the extra insulating cover.
Decisions – don’t be afraid to turn back, it’s all too common to fall into the heuristic trap of “I’ve travelled all this way, I’m going to get something done”.
Be disciplined – when you’re cold, stop and pull out that extra layer, if you’re gloves are wet, stop and dig to the bottom of your bag for your extra pair (or better still, have them at the top!), if the weather’s coming in, stop and get out your map and compass out of your pocket to get that bearing….
Navigation – don’t be tempted to let someone else do all the nav, make sure you can do it too. You’ll be able to work together, making it safer and less stressful if the weather comes in when you’re in the middle of the Cairngorm plateau.
Ski Touring – the best way to get to some climbs is by skiing. You can leave your skis at the top to climb out to; the long walk out all of a sudden becomes fun! Or explore those Munro’s by skis; you’ll be able to double the number you can access in a day by walking.
Planning – read the blogs, when the ice is in condition on the Ben – go!
Have a plan B – if the climb that you wanted to do isn’t in condition don’t ignore the signs, go somewhere else. Even if it means dropping a grade instead – you’ll have another chance at that climb, it’s not going anywhere. The same applies for walking and skiing, make sure you assess the hazards throughout your journey and stay flexible.
Food – take some home-baked yummy goodness on the hill with you, in a jacket pocket where you can get to it readily. Snacking rather than a traditional picnic lunch is the way forward in winter.
The hot aches – have a thicker pair of gloves/mitts warming in your jacket to pull on at the belay – not climbing? Have a thicker pair of gloves in your rucksack anyway. And another pair, and maybe another….
Take pictures – it’s too easy to whip out the phone on a stunning day but it’s a good morale booster to take the time to snap your iced up faces on a shivery belay stance or nav’ing your way down through a pee souper too.
Guest post by Jess Ainslie – Front Point Adventures
Jess Ainslie’s life in the outdoors started with kicking and screaming as teenager, getting dragged up rainy hill after rainy hill somewhere in the Lake District. In her late teens she discovered climbing. With a love of the outdoors slowly creeping into her psyche, she realised that there was maybe something in it. Since then Jess has worked hard and travelled to some amazing countries, climbing and skiing in the name of work, meeting many incredibly passionate and inspiring people along the way. Her newest adventure is Front Point Adventures – offering skills and development courses in everything to do with the mountains, plus climbing and biking trips abroad, all specifically for women.
Go check them out at www.frontpointadventures.com