Winter Conditions

Finding out what is "in" in Scotland in winter is not that easy, especially if you live in England or Wales. In fact, finding out what is "in" in England and Wales isn't that easy either. Here are the pick of the most useful websites that can help you plan your trip. Many of these sites are of use in summer too.

Avalanche Information: first port of call!

The SAIS Latest Forecast is invaluable - and potentially life-saving. There is also quite often some good information about route conditions hidden away in there too. Unless you know the area like the back of your hand, it is generally considered foolish to set out on a climbing trip if the avalanche warning is 4 (Considerable) or above, and to take great care if it is. However, these are only forecasts, and, as always, it is up to the individual climber to assess the situation and make their own predictions.

In addition, the SAIS posts blogs written by its staff that give a little more detail and photographs:

Weather Forecasts: Large pinches of salt required

The Met Office Five day regional forecasts and lots more
BBC Five day regional forecasts and a Monthly Outlook
Accu Weather Was On Line Weather. Four day regional forecasts. Includes Mountain Weather Forecasts for relevant altitudes (NB these vary according to area) and a Satellite View
Weather Online Useful long range national forecasts (and annoying pop-up windows!)
Met Check 48 hour, 1- 7day and 8-14 day, and most importantly, night time, forecasts, for all regions of the UK
MWIS The Mountain Weather Information Service (aka Geoff Monk) gives detailed forecasts three day forecasts for mountain areas in PDF format - generally accurate. They also have a links page to various Winter Conditions Reports
Weather 2 Weather 2 has some useful satellite photos and weather charts as well as providing 14 day forecasts
YR.NO is the joint online weather service from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and is widely reckoned to be the most accurate available, with incredible detail
Mountain Forecast Mountain Forecast gives individual mountain forecasts for 6 days for many areas of the world including Scotland. Worldwide detailed longterm forecast of wind, rain, snow, temperature with amazing graphics.
ECMWF The European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts is has proved spookily accurate over recent years. To get to predicted synoptic charts go to High Resolution Forecast
The Weather Outlook Long term predictions
Snow Forecast Three day snow forecasts for the UK and elsewhere - more if you sign up
Cairngorm Weather Station Data from the Cairngorm Weather Station and sometimes a webcam, from Herriot Watt University

Winter Conditions Monitoring

The Met Office In an attempt to stop overenthusiastic climbers hacking the turf to bits on popular crags when things are not sufficiently frozen, the BMC have placed winter conditions monitors in Cwm Idwal in Snowdonia, North Wales and on Great End in the Lake District. These show not only the air temperature, but also the temperature of the turf at 5cm, 15cm and 30cm – an incredibly useful tool which could save you a long walk for nothing and rare floral from getting trashed by the inconsiderate.

Route Reports: Winter climbing reports submitted by climbers - small pinches of salt required

Abacus Mike Peascod's site has a Reports Page, mainly based around Ben Nevis and Glencoe, but often also including Creag Meagaidh and the Cairngorms
Alan Kimber Alan's Blog gives regular updates on Ben Nevis and Glencoe - and you can stay in his Bunkhouse too!
Alpha Nick Carter and Mike Brownlow provide a Conditions Page, mainly based around Ben Nevis and Glencoe, but often also including Creag Meagaidh and the Cairngorms
Apple Mountaineering Ken Applegate and Hannah Evans instruct in Scotland and keep a regularly updated Conditions Blog
Climbwhenyoureready Mountaineering Alan Halewood has a Blog and a Facebook page
Ecosse Mountains Ken Rutherford's site has a Blog
Greenwood Mountaineering Has a regularly updated Facebook Page
Highland Mountaineering Skills Dave Buckett maintains a good well illustrated Blog on his home page
Martin Moran Moran Mountaineering has a winter conditions report for the North-West Highlands
Max Hunter Highland instructor has a good Blog
More Than Mountains An up to date Facebook Page with conditions in both Scotland and the Lakes over the winter months
Mountain Circles Paddy Cave is a local instructor and regularly out and about in the Lakes in winter - see his Blog for the latest reports
Mountain Expertise Paul James is an instructor based in North Wales but working in Scotland over the winter over a wide spread of areas and posting many photos and conditions reports on his Blog. In addition to the main website, there is also a Facebook Page
Mountain Motion Richard Bentley has a Mountain Blog and a Ben Nevis Winter Conditions page
Nevis Range The Mountain Report gives current conditions on the Anaoch Mor ski slopes, which will be similar to what you can expect on the Ben, and of course very handy for conditions on Anaoch Morr and Anaoch Beag
Scot Mountain Formerly Mountain Innovations, this mountaineering course website has a useful winter conditions Blog centred on the Cairngorms
Scottishwinter Excellent classy site run by Ben Nevis guru Simon Richardson with lots of new route and conditions info
Skye Guides Mike Lates, local instructor and author of the SMC climbing guide to the Cuillin, has a regularly updated Blog giving conditions reports
UK Climbing The Winter Forum has some useful stuff, and quite a few reports. They also have a Winter Conditions page
Vertical Frontiers Ben Bradford is a British Mountain Guide based in South-West England but who operates in Scotland in winter and maintains a Blog
West Coast Mountain Guides Alan Kimber founded this guiding firm that operates around Fort William and has a useful Blog. It is now run by Bruce Poll
Winterhighland A good General Weather and Snow Report

Webcams: Scotland

There area numerous webcams all over Scotland. However, as fast as we list them they seem to go out of commission. Here are a couple of sites giving links to lots of webcams followed by a few favourites that actually seem to work.

Steven Fallon Mountaineering instructor with a good Webcams page
Traffic Scotland Traffic reports and a load of useful roadside Webcams. These are very quick to load and give a good indication of snow cover and road conditions at the same time - all over the country
Skye his camera provides a good view of the Skye Bridge and the Cuillins (if you are lucky!)
Ben Nevis The SMC have installed a webcam on the CIC Hut. It points up at the Orion Face so you can not only see what conditions are like but how crowded Orion direct is!
Ben Nevis Visit Fort William's Webcam is located at Tomacharich, Fort William and gives view looking up to the North Face from the valley bottom. The camera viewing angle changes every 3 minutes, rotating through a selection of preset webcam views
Lake District Ski Club Photos from the ski area on Raise, just north of Helvellyn

Have you found a site not listed here that gives good Scottish winter climbing information? If so please let us know about it - email us at – thank you!

"Few plans survive contact with the weather."

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