Five Things You Might Find Surprising on Your First Winter Walk

You may well be ready for your first winter walk, but there are some things that you may or may not have expect on the hill in winter. It’s also an excuse for us to churn out another page full of lovely snowy pictures!

1 Sunburn – You may well have packed the summer kit away now it’s cold, but you’ll need to get some of them back out. You’re very likely to get sunburn on a sunny and snowy day, so a strong sporty sunblock is just as essential as the middle of summer. Not only do you have the sun shining down, but also reflecting upwards. Likewise, you’ll probably need sunglasses in order to protect your eyes from the glare. In extreme cases, you can get snow blindness – so it’s essential!

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2 Temperature Inverisons. Keeping to the summer in winter theme, you could easily find yourself in your t-shirt on the highest summit in the winter months. That is, when there’s a temperature inversion and the temperature on the summit is significantly warmer than it is in the valleys. Not only that, but you’ll find yourself above the clouds on the summit – making for an epic day out.

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3 You might lose all sense of orientation – including up from down. Until you experience a full on white out conditions where the cloud and the snow merge into one and the horizon vanishes, you’ll find it hard to believe. This photo isn’t getting close to that!

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4 Your batteries will suddenly die on you. This isn’t a sign of imminent alien landings but rather as the cold weather will generally make your batteries die sooner than they otherwise would. Luckily, there’s a solution in the form of lithium batteries. These tolerate the cold and if you’re dependent on any battery powered device (and a torch is really the only one we can think you can’t live without) it’s essential to carry a set as spares.

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5 You probably won’t use all that expensive winter hardware you’ve just shelled out for! More often than not, especially in Snowdonia, winter conditions are transient and you’re more likely to be walking across greasy snow than hard packed snow. This makes the going harder, as there’s not a lot you can do with greasy snow other than fall carefully.

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6 You’ll end up walking in crampons and all the gear and someone will pass you pulling a kid on a sled.

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7 Someone in high heels and miniskirt will tell you that you’ve over equipped. I was walking up the PYG one winter and a number of people who saw me putting on my crampons nodded and said- that looks like a good idea… More like essential to stay upright! That was the day I apparently stormed past Chris Moyles’ walking group – as they were also crampon-free and didn’t look steady on their feet. Oh the irony when I heard they’ve been slating other groups for being ill equipped on the mountain that day. This isn’t his group (they were, fair play, cutting steps – but it was still crampon terrain) but this photo would be utterly comical if it wasn’t so tragic.

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Moyles is, I reckon, somewhere in the middle of this phot0. The path was largely iced up to the summit.

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Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader.
Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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