Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Monday, 7 December 2009

Safety warning issued to climbers

Stob Dearg. Copyright: Iain Maclean
The winter mountain safety message is delivered annually

Climbers and walkers have been urged by the Scottish government to take all precautions to help them stay safe while out in the hills.

Public Health and Sport Minister Shona Robinson delivered the government's annual winter safety message.

She said enthusiasts should check forecasts and use the correct gear.

Ms Robinson gave the advice on a visit to Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore, where the Sportscotland Avalanche Information Service is based.

She said: "Scotland offers some of the world's most beautiful hills and mountains and I want people to be able to enjoy all of the spectacular scenery this country has to offer.

"However, our countryside can present many hazards to climbers and hillwalkers, particularly those who are not suitably prepared.

"It's a sad fact that every year climbers lose their lives and it's extremely important that those wanting to enjoy the outdoors take the time to plan ahead, check the weather and have the correct safety equipment before heading for the hills."

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said 10 out of 20 deaths in the mountains last year happened in winter.

The avalanche information service will start publishing reports and forecasts for North Cairngorms, South Cairngorms, Lochaber, Creag Meagaidh and Glencoe from 17 December.

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