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Beat the January blues with bluebird mountain days!

Beat the January blues with bluebird mountain days!

15th January, 2024

What makes Winter such a great time to be in the mountains?

As well as sharing skills and safety advice with our joint #ThinkWINTER campaign this year, we would also like to inspire you to get out and enjoy all that winter has to offer.

With Monday 15th January considered to be ‘the most depressing day of the year’, we thought we would try to beat the blues by sharing some of your inspiring photos to showcase the positive aspects of this time of year. So what is there to love about winter? Read on for our highlights…

(image: Alan Rowan)

Being able to catch the sunrise and sunset

Though the hours of daylight are shorter, this can mean that you are able to catch both the sunrise and sunset with no great loss of sleep on a day out in the hills. However, make sure that you are not caught out by the dark. With suitable expertise and training to walk in the dark, you might find the technical exercise really rewarding. If in doubt, there are a number of night navigation and winter navigation courses available to develop these skills.


Bluebird days

There can be no greater joy to the winter enthusiast than that rare set of perfect conditions – crisp snow underfoot, blue skies overhead, and layers and layers of delightfully iced winter scenery stretching for miles around you! Here are a selection of blue-bird adventures our followers have tagged us in recently:


Getting to sharpen your skills in the ‘white room’

Winter weather can provide the ultimate test of your navigation skills. With features such as rivers and lochs hidden under layers of snow, you need to be confident in your ability to interpret contours to effectively locate yourself, and use a map and compass to walk on a bearing and measure how far you’ve travelled. Again, these skills must be learnt and practiced, and it is best to do on less consequential terrain to gain experience. However, when the visibility closes in or whiteout conditions strike, winter provides an excellent opportunity to test your training.


Otherworldly formations of snow and ice

Intricate patterns in the frost and snow, icicles dangling from every feature, and fogbows across the sky are just some of the weird and wonderful formations you might come across out and about in the winter mountains. One of our favourite things to encounter is ‘sastrugi’ – wind-blasted shapes in the snow which often resemble sand dunes.


Awe-inspiring images

When conditions align to create a winter wonderland, there is no shortage of inspiring images from mountain-goers! We spoke to landscape photographer Benjamin Barendrecht and mountaineer Alan Rowan about why they love winter photography in Scotland’s mountains.

Mountaineer and author Alan Rowan (aka Munro Moonwalker) has compleated 4 rounds of the Munros, and in 2019 completed a “full house” – Munros, Munro tops, Corbetts, Fionas, Donalds and Furths. With so much time spent in the mountains, Alan has gathered an extensive selection of truly majestic images, many of which feature in his Moonwalker calendars each year, raising funds for Scottish Mountain Rescue.

(image: Alan Rowan)

Of walking in the Winter, Alan says:

I always think the landscape becomes more clearly defined in winter: the air has a clarity not found in any other season, the features and contours of the mountain ridges, corries and summits, even the trees, stand sharper, more acute. And on a clear day, you really feel you can see forever.

There’s more contrast in light and shadow and despite, or maybe because of, the shorter days, the sunrise and sunsets that bookend the day are more fiery, appearing and retreating in a consistent blaze of colours.

Benjamin Barendrecht is a mountain landscape photographer based in Glencoe. Originally from the Netherlands, Benjamin found his passion in using photography to create mountain panoramas which capture the stories of the landscape. He is an ambassador for Mountaineering Scotland’s ‘It’s up to us’ campaign which seeks to restore and maintain the network of upland paths we are fortunate enough to enjoy as hillwalkers, mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts in Scotland. Benjamin runs Winter Skills workshops to equip fellow photographers with all the skills for winter mountaineering alongside photography tips for showcasing the best of our winter hills.

The Scottish mountains are a unique place to explore for me, as winter approaches the mountains transform dramatically. Photographing in winter is challenging and extremely rewarding, short daylight hours means carefully planning routes and locations. It is so special to see the first sun light appear on the horizon or watch the sun fade away turning the white snow into a beautiful pink/red alpen colour…

(image: Benjamin Barendrecht)

“equally the harsh conditions can create amazing opportunities and leave a lasting winter memory. The snow simplifies the scenery and creates depth in the mountains as the cracks and gullies are more visible when filled with snow.”

(image: Benjamin Barendrecht)

For more inspiration, advice, safety and skills, head to our #ThinkWINTER landing page.

Let’s keep those January blues at bay with epic mountain adventures!

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