The South Eastern Mountain Association has appealed to walkers not to hike in high mountainous areas at the moment due to the dangers posed by wintry weather conditions and short days.
SEMRA public relations officer Liz Browne urged walkers to confine their treks to low ground, familiar trails and to avoid higher ground mountain walks, particularly if they are not experienced hikers.
The Association has issued the appeal in the wake of the latest Covid-19 lockdown prompting hundreds of walkers to hike in the mountains and woodlands of south Tipperary and bordering counties.
SEMRA volunteers have been called out to five local incidents involving walkers either injured or lost in popular local mountains and woodlands hiking spots in the past two weeks.
LONE WALKER RESCUED
Last Saturday, about 20 SEMRA members were involved in the search and rescue of a lone female walker who became disorientated above Lough Curra while descending from Galteemore as darkness fell. They received the call out at 5.50pm and the first search party reached the walker at 8.20pm. They were off the mountainside by 9.30pm.
SEMRA volunteers were also called to the rescue of another female walker, who suffered a lower leg injury in a fall while walking at Scaragh Wood near Cahir on Sunday afternoon. The SEMRA team were stood down after a National Ambulance Service crew got to the injured walker first and transported her to hospital.
Ms Browne said this is not the time of year for walkers to try difficult mountain routes. “Conditions are too bad underfoot and the weather can change for the worse in a heartbeat. Darkness falls early and it is easy to get disorientated. I know the mountains look beautiful but if we have snow the wind chill is probably -5 to -7.
She fears it is only a matter of time before someone gets in serious trouble in the mountains. It didn't have to be a dramatic fall that causes such a situation. A simple sprain combined with inadequate clothing and an out of battery phone will do it.
Ms Browne urged walkers to wear proper winter clothing and footwear when hiking in the hills and to also bring spare clothes. She has witnessed many mountain walkers not wearing adequate attire in recent weeks.