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Winter returns in the mountains

Thursday 28th February 2019, 2:51pm

The unprecedented warm weather in Scotland’s mountains in recent weeks looks set to end – and mountaineering experts are reminding walkers, climbers and skiers that it’s time to replace T-shirts with fleeces and make sure they have their ‘winter heads’ back in place.

The unseasonably high temperatures and lack of snow have meant many hill-goers have abandoned crampons, ice-axes and skis in favour of more summery options such as hill walking, climbing and mountain biking.

However, although the daffodils are just on the cusp of flowering in the lowlands, the weather is set to change back to more usual conditions for the time of year.

Mountain forecasts for the weekend show a dramatic change in the air mass affecting Scotland.  Instead of warm air being drawn up from the deep south within a Tropical Maritime air mass, the Jet Stream is dipping south, and Scotland will be influenced by cold air drawn down from the North. 

Freezing levels are dropping below summit level from Saturday onwards and snow is forecast. 

Mountaineering Scotland’s Mountain Safety Adviser, Heather Morning, said: “Combine fresh snow cover with high winds and poor visibility and it’s time to switch on that #Thinkwinter awareness again and reinstate those crampons and ice axes essential for safe travel in the winter mountains.

“It’s important to consider our mind-set: over the past two weeks it very much felt like winter was behind us, so it would be all too easy to get caught out in the wrong place with the wrong kit.

“Planning is key this weekend to make the most of our return to winter.”

Check out the up to the minute info on snow conditions at the sportscotland Avalanche Information Service webpage and combine that information with the latest mountain-specific weather forecast.

You can find avalanche information at www.sais.gov.uk

Mountain weather forecasts can be found at www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/mountain-forecasts and at www.mwis.org.uk 

Check out the basics of winter mountaineering.

Photo by Wallace Gilbraith.