10-Point Safety Checklist Before Winter Mountaineering Trips

1) Check your head-torch and GPS batteries are in good condition; renew them if they’re fading and always carry a spare set of batteries in your rucksack. Always check that everyone you go on the hill with has a head-torch. Super tip - Always have your head-torch in your jacket pocket and not your rucksack, as it may become dark while you are climbing en-route, whilst your rucksack is lying at bottom of the crag.

2) Always check avalanche information services, such as the sportscotland Avalanche Information Service and modify your route when the forecast indicates avalanche conditions on your planned route.

3) Always carry at least two pairs of gloves. One pair is not enough!

4) Check that your crampons fit your boots before using them, and get into the habit of putting them on before you reach icy ground. 

5) Carry an emergency survival bag or bivvy shelter with you in winter. 

6) Carry a mobile phone whenever possible, but be aware that you won’t always get reception in remote places. Register with the SMS Emergency Text Service before you set out. 

7) Carry your ice-axe and know how to use it. 

8) Carry sufficient extra layers of clothing in winter. The temperature drops quickly as darkness falls and you should plan for unexpected delays and the possibility that you could be out on the hill for an extended period in the event of an incident. 

9) Carry a big enough rucksack in winter. Using the same rucksack that you carry in summer is a recipe for an uncomfortable day when you are carrying extra winter kit. 

10) Know when to turn back: the summit is only the half-way point of your journey.

Have a good winter

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