Monday, 12 December 2011

The snow & ice are back

Well, winter is here now & like most mountaineers I can't wait for the cold & sunny days to come. The clear air & long-distance views are what I love about winter in the hills. No heat haze to wipe out the distant views, just mountains as far as the eye can see.

Whilst we might be able to see further on a good day in winter, we can't see much at all when the weather clags in, & the length of daylight is significantly shorter during the winter months so the time window to take in the views is squeezed in at both ends. The rewards on a good day are fantastic, but as the MCofS Chief Officer, David Gibson, said in a MCofS news release last week: "
the margin for error is much less than at other times of the year due to the weather, conditions underfoot and limited daylight hours".

The MCofS in the last couple of weeks has announced its Winter Skills & Avalanche Awareness courses as well as the upcoming series of Winter Safety Lectures. Visit our Press Releases page & click on the two most recent entries (2nd & 9th December). I hope that lots of people will sign up for these courses & come along to the lectures. Heather Morning is working hard to get the winter safety message across and her work will hopefully lead to a further reduction in the number of incidents & casualties on the Scottish mountains.

I didn't have time to get out for a proper day on the hill yesterday, but I did go out with Perth Road Runners for their festive run to Loch Ordie above Dunkeld. Long stretches of the Land Rover tracks were covered in ice, so I tried out my new set of Yaktrax Pro ice grips on my running shoes. Wow, to say I was amazed would be a bit of an understatement. I was able to run on the sheet ice as if it were a pavement, & that was on the downhill stretches as well. In fact the sheet ice was easier to run on than the chossy snow in the middle of the track or the variable vegetation at the side of the track. My running on the sheet ice certainly drew the attention of passing walkers who probably thought I was just wearing a pair of running shoes!

Although he's not a runner, I've bought a pair of Yaktrax Pros for my Dad's Christmas present this year. Don't tell him, but I saved a couple of pounds by getting a MCofS discount on them. If you're still looking for presents then don't forget to use your MCofS membership card to claim some tasty discounts. Take a look at the Discounts area of our website before you head to the shops this week.

If you are stuck for a gift for a mountaineer in your life then don't forget the Gift of Membership offer that we have at the MCofS. This is a great way for you to buy a friend or relative a year's membership of the MCofS at a very reasonable price. Check out:

Anyway, I hope you have a great Christmas & New Year, & that you get out to enjoy some time in the hills over the festive season. I also hope you will get along to a Winter Safety Lecture & use your membership card to get some discounts on your Christmas shopping.

All the best for 2012.

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