All the points covered under the walking skills and walking in parties apply
to winter walking in snow conditions, but remember that more clothing is
required and even greater care must be used when moving on steep ground. The
limitations of certain types of footgear are even more pronounced, particularly
those with composition rubber soles.
Ice axes should be carried and used by each person.
Learn the proper techniques of using this equipment and the methods of
safeguarding each other. Be sure you know the method of braking with an ice axe
in case of a slip.
Remember there will probably be ice beneath the snow
wherever a stream normally flows.
In winter, storms are more frequent and days much
shorter, so that it is easier to be benighted.
Cornices, lips of overhanging snow, may be
encountered on the ridges and the tops of gullies or the edge of a scarp.
These should be treated with great care and, if traversing a cornice, keep
well down the slope to windward away from the lip. The line of fracture on a
cornice is much farther down the slope than the inexperienced think.
Remember that cornices may eventually avalanche and, if ascending to a
cornice, the margin of safety must be increased.
Watch out for the balling of snow on the feet. A
kick or tap with the ice axe shaft will often remove the ball of snow but in
doing this don't jerk yourself off balance on a slope.
Keep away from gullies and steep snow slopes during
a thaw. In fact, if you have no experience of snow and ice climbing, keep
away from gullies altogether and if you should take up snow and ice
climbing, as opposed to walking in winter conditions, it is important to
learn from someone with experience.
Other points to watch
Mountain streams have numerous waterfalls or often
fall over crags, so avoid them as a means of descent.
In glaciated country the mountain spurs have often
been truncated or cut by the moving ice, thus ending in steep cliffs. Take
care when moving in conditions of poor visibility.
It a ridge you have been following to a summit
suddenly stops as a steep cliff, it is probably a 'false' ridge or spur from
It is dangerous to contour slopes below a ridge in
mist for it is easy to lose direction and there is a tendency to lose
height. An increase of air pressure on the ear drums can often warn the
walker of this.
At night time it can be extremely useful to tell
direction from the North Star, or other easily identified stars. If using
stars on a compass bearing, change the star in use every fifteen minutes.
North and South can easily be told from the moon and there are many other
If lost - or in doubt - stop, keep calm, think back
to your last known position and work out a plan before committing yourself
to a line of action. Don't be afraid to turn back in face of adverse
conditions if it seems wisest to do so.
Remember: Carry the essentials in
the pack - suitable spare clothing, first aid kit, map, compass, whistle, torch
and emergency rations. Learn the International Distress Signal and also the
position of mountain rescue posts, if any. The whistle and torch will be useful
to give distress signals in case of accidents or if you are caught in the dark.
But remember also that careless whistling, shouting or flashing of a torch might
send false alarm.