Top 5 Essentials for Winter Walking

Winter walking is a wonderful way to get outside and see a different side to nature. But the Winter conditions mean you have to adapt certain things- the kit you carry, where you go and what you wear.

We asked Paul from Paul Poole Mountaineering to give us his top 5 essentials for Winter Walking. The following are just some ideas born out of experience!

1. Plan your day well

There are a couple of things to consider here, firstly the days are shorter and walking on snow and ice can be more tiring than in summer conditions, so initially don’t plan long mountain routes, try smaller peaks or easier routes. Its absolutely essential to consider the weather forecast in the days building up to your day, this allows you to start building a picture of the conditions on the ground. If you’re walking in certain areas of Scotland its advisable to consult the Scottish Avalanche Information Service as well.

Maybe the first few occasions you go out, visit mountains that you already know so you have some familiarity with the area. Consider the use of every piece of kit you carry to reduce the weight, but get the balance correct so you don’t skimp on warm clothing, food, drink and safety kit.

2. Know how to use your ice axe and crampons

Vital bits of kit you don’t leave home without! Ensure they fit correctly when you initially purchase them, its worth taking your boot in to the shop for this. Don’t be shy of wearing them earlier rather than later when it could be very awkward to put them on. Have your axe to hand at all times. At the beginning of each new winter season its worth finding a safe place to practise your self arrest.

3. Get your layering right!

This is a constant battle, but one worth spending the time getting right, don’t worry if you get it wrong a few times. Too many layers and you’ll sweat, which will chill you when you stop and too few layers means you’ll be uncomfortable and won’t enjoy the day as much! Always have a warm synthetic jacket which you can put over all your other layers when you stop for a cuppa.

4. Have more gloves in your bag than you think!

I actually always have two thin pairs, two thicker pairs and in the bottom of my bag, a bombproof pair if mitts! Gloves will always get wet or damp and then your hands chill, which is the time to change them, cold and wet hands are a real worry in a winter environment and really will stop you doing anything.

5. Be Bothered!

Be bothered to change your gloves when they’re damp, be bothered to check the weather forecast, be bothered to change your layers if you’re sweating too much, be bothered to get out into a winter environment and if you do so you won’t be disappointed!

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What is Munro Bagging?

Munro bagging is a strange phrase that always brings to the mind an image of bagging shopping. Munro bagging?  What is it? Simply put, munro bagging is the process of climbing all the munros, which in turn are Scottish mountains over 3000ft high. 

The first list of climbable munros was published in 1891 and are so called after the namesake of the list writer, Hugh Munro. The job is now given to the Scottish Mountaineering Club, who have concluded that there are 283 Munros that can be ‘bagged’!

The view from Ben More

Monroes are found in Sutherland, the Cairngorms, Glencoe, Balmoral, Loch Lomond near Glasgow and on the Isle of Skye.

The buttresses of  Ben Hope, Ben Lomond, Ben Macdui, Ben Nevis, Beinn Eighe- there are plenty of ‘Ben’s’ to be climbed, but despite their name, the munros are extremely difficult to climb, as they sit close to the cold, foggy and often freezing Arctic weather. In Winter, the danger is even more difficult, with ice routes,

After completing all the munros your name is attached to a ‘completers’ list, which is over 4000 at the time of writing. You need to keep a log of dates that you climb the munroes, and also have a photo of yourself at the peak of your final summit. Include how long you have taken, the first and last hills, your age, and plans for the future and send it of to the SMC.

For completing them all you receive a Munroists number so you can purchase a tie, or a brooch and you will also get a Completion Certificate.

Many mountaineers comment that climbing munros is a great way to get into the outdoors and climbing Scottish mountains, but that Munro bagging becomes less of a motivating force after you get out on the hills. Either way, many people still complete and send off forms to enter the completers form with the SMC, so munro bagging is still popular.

Starting to bag munros is a choice usually made on the height and steepness of the munros, as well as your fitness, although most of them are steep and short.

Schiehallion, Corrie Fee and the Tarmachan ridge are usually recommended as the paths are relatively clear for easier navigation.

What to wear for munro bagging depends on when you intend to go. A Scottish winter is severe, so you will need a waterproof, insulated mountaineering jacket as well as a inner midlayer, a long sleeved baselayer, thermal baselayers for your legs as well as waterproof overt trousers.

You would also be well of with B3 boots that can hold crampons. Take some in your rucksack, along with a first aid kit and plenty of other essentials.