Every year in November we get a flurry of snow in Snowdonia and we all start to get excited about the winter months approaching. This year we haven’t had the more traditional wet Autumn, rather a fairly mild dry patch with a quick temperature drop in the last few weeks below zero….who knows what is going to happen over the next few months and it’s at this time of year I start thinking about what I’m carrying and perhaps adapting my kit accordingly. I remember my first trip to Scotland one February and heading out with a MIC who’s main piece of advice that has always stayed with me was “Be Bothered”. I had no idea what he really meant at the time and probably wasn’t listening to him, but was more interested in actually having a nice time sliding around on my arse and digging holes!
Sometime after that I was caught in an avalanche with some folk and travelled some 200m fully buried, we were lucky, but the words “be bothered” started meaning something.
It means be bothered to get and understand a weather forecast, be bothered to get an avalanche forecast, be bothered to pack the right kit, be bothered to know how to use that kit, be bothered ……you get the idea!
For example even though there isn’t a specific avalanche forecast for Snowdonia, we do have the BMC Idwal winter conditions, offering real time air and ground temperatures
In addition to that the Met Office has a Ground Conditions page which offers observations on the ground, both help me form a picture of what’s happening on the ground. Beyond that apart from taking the obvious spiky things, I also carefully prepare my kit to help me be a little more efficient in winter. Have you thought about some simple things like making sure all your zippers / buckles on jackets / rucksacks can be done up / undone with your variety of gloves you might be wearing at the time. Maybe extend zippers if you’re struggling. Have you tried putting your crampons on with your gloves on?
Does your map fit into a pocket easily or is it in a bulky map case? What happens if one of your crampons breaks, have you got something to do a temporary repair to it? How have you packed your rucksack, useful things in pockets or at the top? Can your favourite summer bag carry all the additional things you need in winter? What are you wearing whilst walking? Does that base layer work with all your other layers? Will your layers keep you warm enough? Can you adjust your shell layer hood with your gloves on?
The list goes on…..
In summer if you can’t be bothered, then you’ll probably end up wet, cold, miserable, lost and so on, but most likely get away with it, but in winter if you can’t be bothered then one day you won’t get anyway with it…..that was me 17 years ago!