The past few winter Survival courses we have run in the Cairngorms have been blustery affairs to say the least! With the weather being so changeable we always make sure that our choices of which mountain, and how high up we go always fit the weather………..Especially in the Cairngorms where a pleasant experience can turn into a real fight for Survival.
Along with Met Office checks (the met office forecast for mountainous regions also) we use the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) The link can be found here . You’ll here us mention on many of our courses that a high number of people visiting Scotland have a limited time to “tick” off a mountain, climb or Ski a line, this leads to individuals not making a dynamic assessment of which areas are safe, as they have an idea stick in there head and they’ll attempt it come hell or high water…..Mountain Rescue teams are left to deal with the fall out all too often.
Another Factor that should be part of your decision making when attempting a mountain during the winter is what are the chances of you being Avalanched? For this we use the SAIS (Scottish avalanche information service). Many people believe avalanches are confined to the higher ranges in the world, but with the weather systems that Britain receives from the Atlantic along with high winds leads to depositions of wind slab. Wind slab can be treacherous when deposited on harder snow or ice, keeping abreast of the SAIS is a good way of steering clear of potential avalanche areas, especially when planning your route choices up a mountain.
The SAIS have recently brought out a handy App, the link can be found here