With the harsh winter looming, outdoor enthusiasts are being urged to stay safe on the hills, slopes and mountains of Scotland.
Sport Minister Shona Robison made the call as she met winter safety instructors at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena at Ratho.
Scottish Government funding of £1.5 million this year is helping ensure safety on the hills Each year in Scotland there are around 7.2 million mountaineering or hillwalking trips.
Ms Robison said: “Scotland’s hills and mountains attract visitors from around the world but at this time of year they can be treacherous with fast changing conditions.
‘‘The vast majority of walkers have safe and enjoyable trips but, unfortunately, lives are all too easily lost.
“Before heading out on the hills, make sure you have the right equipment. Detailed safety advice is available on the Mountaineering Council for Scotland website.
“Technology can be useful but don’t rely on it to navigate for you. Having a map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them is the best way to stay on course.
‘‘The weather can change extremely quickly, so check localised weather information, mountain information of the sportscotland avalanche information service.
“Take the opportunity to get involved in local training courses and take advice from seasoned professionals.
‘‘Above all, know your limits. Routes that are easy in summer will be more physically demanding and testing in winter.”
Mark Diggins from the Sportscotland Avalanche Information Service said “The fast-changing weather with its snowfall, avalanche hazard, strong winds and poor visibility requires us to be much more prepared when going into the mountains in the winter time.
“Therefore the need to get important information well in advance helps us to plan our trips, enabling mountain goers the flexibility to decide on where to go and what to do.
“Good information on the avalanche hazard situation can be obtained from the sportscotland avalanche information Ssrvice website at www.sais.gov.uk”.