Monday, 5 November 2012

Winter Walking

Stay Warm, Stay Safe
So, winter is definitely here in Snowdonia. It's suddenly come upon us like a blizzard from nowhere. Although it's brrrrrr cold, we're not complaining because the view here from the Oakeley Arms Hotel across the hills and mountains is a beautiful winter wonderland.
It got us to thinking about a spot of Snowdonia winter walking - there's nothing better than packing a bag with a thermos flask of hot coffee and loads of fleecy layers, and heading out into the hills. But, with the cold and snowy weather arriving quickly last week there were several rescues from the Snowdonia mountains over the weekend, some of them in very bad weather.
When the sun is shining and the sky is a crisp winter blue, it's difficult to imagine that seemingly from nowhere, storm clouds can gather on top of the mountains and thick mist can swoop down, obscuring the path and the route to safety. So, it's essential to be prepared whilst out on the hills - at any time of year, but particularly in winter when the conditions dramatically increase the risk. Sometimes, specialist knowledge or equipment is needed to stay safe.
Here's some top tips to stay safe in the hills this winter:
  •  Consider and study the forecast carefully. Conditions change quickly in the mountains, so it's best to be prepared and know what to expect. It also pays to be realistic about the forecast and your abilities. If you've never navigated or walked in winter conditions before, then it's best to seek advice before you head out.
  • Plan ahead - plan your route, including a quick route off the hills if you need it in an emergency
  • Tell someone about where you're going, who with and when you expect to be back.
  • Winter mountain walking is not really something that should be undertaken alone, unless by a qualified or experienced guide or mountain leader.
  • Dress and pack appropriately - sounds obvious, but while you might be as warm as toast in one jumper at the bottom of the mountain, conditions can quickly change at the top. You should wear several layers that are easy to take on and off, and pack a warm, dry overcoat. Don't forget tick socks, hats, gloves, scarves and pack some basic safety equipment like a first aid kit, whistle, reflective blanket and torch.
  • No winter walking should be undertaken without a map and compass (and the ability to use them of course!). If you have a GPS, so much the better, but it's always better not to solely rely on them - a compass never runs out of battery or has signal failure!
  • Wear good, sturdy boots! With crampons or snow grips if necessary.
  • Pack a flask of hot drink and some high-energy snacks.
  • For real winter-walking skills, why not sign up for a course or some lessons from a qualified guide? Our recommended local guide is Alwen Williams at Welsh Mountain Adventures, but you can also find details of courses at Plas y Brenin - the National Mountain Centre.
  • And finally - enjoy, and take care! Winter walking can be a hugely rewarding and satisfying experience, and it's a great time to explore the mountains without the summer crowds!
A snowy Glyder Fach
Image by jigsawit on
See you on the hills!
You can find more information about the work of the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team here, as well as safety hints and tips.
The Snowdonia National Park also have some great mountains safety guidelines on their website, click here.
Please note that the above information is intended as guidelines only. Mountain walking of any kind should only be undertaken in good conditions with the correct equipment and safety procedures, and is entirely at readers' own risk. The Oakeley Arms Hotel cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from the use of these guidelines.

1 comment:

  1. Last winter I got a pair of Pogu Spikes which are really good quality. I'd recommend people tried those if you don't want to spend a lot of crampons. I've never thought about taking some winter walking lessons but I may do now.