More Details More Details

Be alert to the dangers of cornices when heading out in the winter mountains


With bad weather expected for the weekend, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCoS) has seen fit to issue a warning highlighting the dangers of cornices to those planning to go out in the hills.

Found above cliffs and steep slopes, these projecting ledges of snow can be surprisingly hard to see in poor visibility. In fact last winter season 18 people walked over cornices.

“The Scottish Mountains are an awesome, inspiring and challenging environment which I would encourage all enthusiastic hill walkers and mountaineers to enjoy, but people do need to be cautious near corrie edges and avoid cornices,” said Heather Morning, Mountain Safety Advisor with the MCoS.

In poor visibility, or in a white-out, cornices can be hard or even impossible to see, so navigation skills are essential for anyone venturing into the mountains so that they can avoid this hazard. The organisation has recommended that anyone going into the winter mountains should be able to take accurate bearings, and should know how to measure distance on a map and assess that distance on the ground using pacing and reading the terrain.

Heather Morning added: “There are other simple tips that can be real lifesavers: attaching your compass to your jacket so you don’t lose it, and having your map in a small waterproof case so you can see the detail while protecting the map from the elements. Keeping your compass away from metal objects and your mobile phone is also essential as these can affect the bearing if in close proximity.

It is strongly recommended that people invest in navigation skills training before venturing out in winter. Check out the Mountain Safety pages on the MCofS website (www.mcofs.org.uk/mountain-safety.asp) or visit our skills section.