Page last updated at 08:57 GMT, Saturday, 14 February 2009

Warnings after deaths on mountain


There have been four recent deaths on Snowdon

Warning have been issued to walkers after four people died over eight days on mount Snowdon.

Severe weather has left normally safe paths only suitable for experienced and well equipped mountaineers, police and mountain rescue teams have said.

Walkers are being urged to check weather forecasts and prepare properly.

A particular warning was made for an area of Snowdon, known as the "Killer Convex", where the mountain railway crosses steep slopes.

Snow and ice has turned paths into "mountaineering routes", police and mountain rescue teams have warned.

In a joint statement issued by North Wales Police, North Wales Mountain Rescue Association, the British Mountaineering Council and the National Mountain Centre at Plas Y Brenin, the organisations warn that normal paths are so dangerous they should only be attempted by "mountaineers correctly equipped and suitably experienced for these extreme conditions."

"There have been many tragic incidents in the mountains in the past few days some of which have resulted in deaths or some miraculous escapes in both Snowdonia and the Lake District," they said.

Information and guidance is available at the National Mountain Centre, along with free navigations courses.

Plan your walk properly and tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to be back
Make sure that you have the proper equipment and know how to use it
Be prepared to turn back if the weather gets worse
Seek advice from experienced mountaineers and check the weather forecast
If you are an inexperienced walker consider using a qualified mountain guide or attend a training course
Do not underestimate the mountains and overestimate your own abilities.
Source: North Wales Police

Doug Scott, the first British mountaineer to climb Everest warned: "The mountains of Britain are wild and wonderful places.

"In winter, particularly, they can be dangerous places where all of us going there have to take more responsibility for our own lives."

The "Killer Convex", area of Snowdon has been cited as particularly dangerous.

Snowfall has turned the area into a "steep and very slippery convex slope", dangerously close to the edge of the 500ft (152m) Clogwyn Coch cliffs.

Det Insp Gerwyn Lloyd of North Wales Police said: "Any hill walkers using the railway line to find their way on the mountain need to be aware of the risks involved and have the appropriate skill, knowledge, experience and equipment to ensure they can safely negotiate these slopes.

"If not, then people are strongly advised to turn back and not continue across the slopes."

The organisations warned that anyone climbing mountains at this time of the year should be equipped with an ice-axe and crampons, warm clothing, a map and compass, a torch, spare food and a survival bag.

They should also know the latest weather forecast and tell someone of their plans.

Among those who have died on the mountain in recent days were Christopher McCallion, 29, from Bristol, and James, 35, who lived in Weston-Super-Mare. They fell about 1,000ft (305m) in freezing conditions.

Brian William Middleton, 70, from Halifax, West Yorkshire and Gwyn Norrell, 27, from Shrewsbury, also died in separate incidents.

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