The BMC is urging people to be prepared when heading out on Snowdon, as challenging winter conditions descend across mountains.
The mountaineering council is raising the awareness that snow-covered mountains require specific equipment, skills, knowledge and awareness, or consequences could be fatal.
Elfyn Jones, BMC access and conservation officer for Wales, said: “Snow and ice can transform mountains completely, adding an extra dimension of spectacle. They can be wonderful places to be, but they can also introduce hazards and dangers you don’t find in summer.
“A lot of people think Snowdon is an easy mountain to climb because there are wide paths to the summit and a café on top. But Snowdon in winter is a very different place to Snowdon on a sunny summer day.
“The weather is much harsher, with strong winds, sub-zero temperatures and blizzards. Visibility can be very bad, making navigation challenging. And snow and ice can often cover those paths, not only obscuring the way, but forming potentially hazardous slippery slopes, which you need an ice axe and crampons to negotiate safely. In heavy snow conditions there can be a risk of avalanches.
“Mountain rescue teams are constantly kept busy in winter, responding to incidents caused by people setting off up Snowdon not knowing what they’re letting themselves in for. These incidents could so easily be avoided by people having a bit of prior preparation and know-how.
“We’re not saying ‘don’t go up Snowdon in winter’. If you think the views are good in summer, you should see them under a layer of snow – it can be hugely beautiful and rewarding. We’re just saying ‘be prepared’.”
Rob Johnson, chair of Llanberis MRT, said: “It is important that people have the appropriate equipment such as ice axe, crampons, waterproof clothing, insulated clothing, map, compass, and most importantly, the knowledge of how to use it.
“We also urge people to base their plans on an up-to-date weather forecast, and match their objective with the conditions and their experience. Never be afraid to turn back, and remember it is often more challenging to descend in snow and ice than it is to head uphill.”
The park’s wardens produce daily reports detailing the snow level and ground conditions, with advice on the appropriate equipment required. Visit the Met Office website: http://bit.ly/1ehOvZq