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Warning for walkers and climbers as winter approaches

Posted 6 November 2012
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Warning for walkers and climbers as winter approaches
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The encroaching winter means people heading for the mountains with their climbing ropes and walking boots need to be better prepared, Coniston Mountain Rescue (MRT) has noted.

Using winter clothing may seem an obvious thing to do when snow is all around in the streets and fields, but at this time of year there may be autumnal weather in the street but wintry conditions on the tops.

The danger of being fooled into thinking conditions might be mild on the hills has been emphasised by the MRT in the wake of a rescue on Dow Crag near the Old Man of Coniston, where a man had got stuck while scrambling on South Rake Gully yesterday (November 5th).

A spokesman for Coniston MRT said: "Although conditions in the valley may be relatively pleasant, the high fells are, in many cases, in winter condition, especially where the sun does not penetrate.

"Walkers and climbers are advised to prepare themselves fully with warm clothing, ice axe and crampons and know how to use them, if they are venturing above the snow line."

The last week has seen the first winter snows in various parts of Britain, but some mountain areas can see snowfall at almost any time of the year and hold it at any time.

A prime example of this is the Cairngorms, where walkers and climbers can encounter snow on any day. The snowfields in the An Garbh Coire below Breariach melted just three times in the 20th century, with these almost entirely sheltered from the sun by neighbouring crags.

That sort of persistence does not apply in the Lake District, where the climate is milder and the mountains are not as high. But the time has come when walkers and climbers will need to be ready for wintry conditions whenever they venture out.