Plotting a route back to the hills

Ben Aan

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Two months into lockdown, mountaineering organisations in Scotland are asking the hill walking and climbing community to ‘hold the line’ and stay local for their daily exercise in accordance with current Scottish Government COVID-19 guidance.

Despite an easing of restrictions in England, the advice for people in Scotland remains the same – stay home and only go out for essential work, food or health reasons – though people in Scotland may now go outside to exercise twice daily.

Walkers and climbers are keen to get back out to the hills and crags and Mountaineering Scotland – the organisation representing hill walkers, climbers and ski tourers in Scotland – is leading discussions with partners in the Mountain Safety Group on how to deliver a phased return to the hills and mountains.

The group, including Scottish Mountain Rescue, Police Scotland, Mountain Training Scotland, Glenmore Lodge and the Association of Mountaineering Instructors, has developed proposals which are being submitted to the Scottish Government outlining how mountaineering activities such as hill walking, climbing and bouldering can be reintroduced.

Damon Powell, chairman of Scottish Mountain Rescue said: ‘It is good to be working as part of the Mountain Safety Group to ensure we can get people back outdoors undertaking their preferred activities as soon as there is a safe and responsible way to do so within Scottish Government guidelines. We hope to see everyone out there soon, but preferably not on a rescue!’

Mountain Training Scotland chief officer George McEwan added: ‘Prior to lockdown our leaders, instructors, coaches and guides supported active public participation, voluntarily and professionally, in walking, climbing and mountaineering, which does so much to support improved health and well-being. As we look forward to reactivation, we are supporting the work of Mountaineering Scotland and the rest of the Mountain Safety Group to facilitate a phased return to the outdoors which is safe and socially responsible.’

‘These are unprecedented times,’ said Stuart Younie, chief executive officer of Mountaineering Scotland, ‘and I thank Mountaineering Scotland members for keeping to the current guidelines. We know it’s
been a challenge but it’s great to see the mountaineering community pulling together.’