Every year thousands of people venture into the Scottish hills, seeking majestic views and challenging terrain as they indulge their passion for the outdoors. 

But the stunning scenery can turn deadly with hazards around every corner and weather which can change a pleasant hike into a scramble for survival within hours.

Now a new reporting system has been created to promote mountain safety, by allowing those who frequent Scotland’s hills to share their near misses and incidents with the wider community.

The new system, a joint project by Mountaineering Scotland and the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), is aimed at improving the safety of hillwalkers, climbers, mountaineers and others who enjoy spending time exploring hills and mountains.

The ‘Near Miss’ online reporting system, which encourages the collection and sharing of reports from close calls in the mountains, consists of a simple online form which can be completed by anyone in the UK and Ireland. 

READ MORE: Climber scales new heights with first ascent of Scotland's hardest winter climb

Information collected by the system will be available for everyone to read, with the hope that people will learn from the experiences of others and gain knowledge which will keep them safe on their own adventures.

Ross Cadie, Senior Mountain Safety Advisor at Mountaineering Scotland, said: “It’s great that our two organisations are able to work together for the benefit of every mountain-user. By sharing near miss reports, we can collectively improve our understanding of the challenges faced in the mountains and work towards safer mountain experiences for all. It has always been important to learn from our mistakes, but learning from the experiences of others is even better!”

Key highlights of the new reporting system include the ‘Near Miss’ portal -  a centralised online platform for sharing experiences and lessons learned from close calls from across the UK and Ireland - and ‘Community Engagement’, which encourages the mountaineering community to actively participate in reporting and reviewing near miss incidents.

The ‘Educating’ section of the new system will also allow those new to the hills to benefit from the seasoned experiences of others, gaining knowledge that could be lifesaving.

Dan Middleton, Climbing Development Manager at the BMC said: “It’s great to work together with Mountaineering Scotland on this project, and by joining forces to share this scheme we both hope that this will lead to a more open safety culture to the benefit of us all.”

Those in Scotland who wish to share their close calls can do so by visiting Mountaineering Scotland’s dedicated ‘Near Misses’ page, or for those living in the rest of the UK and Ireland, the BMC’s Incident Reporting page. 

In 2022 Scottish Mountain Rescue teams - which do not include Lochaber, Glencoe or Cairngorm teams which operate separately - were called out 843 times to 636 incidents. These involved 21 deaths, with 11 of them mountaineering accidents.

These included six deaths in the space of two weeks between February and March. In 2021 there were 19 deaths over the year, seven of which occurred in mountaineering incidents.

In January this year, Mountain rescuers issued a warning to climbers after a series of winter incidents on Scotland's hills.

Volunteers faced a busy start to the season with two avalanches, medical deaths and "very challenging" rescues.

READ MORE: How dangerous are the Scottish hills?

Matt Smith, Police Scotland's national lead for mountain rescue, said there were about 10 more rescues last month than the previous December.

He said: "What the teams come up against is exactly what walkers or people that are venturing out will come up against.

"Mountain rescue teams have had to deploy in very challenging conditions, for long periods of time, to help people that have become injured or lost, or needed help.

"They face some really long, dark, cold nights to get these people off the hills. The rescue teams in Scotland are incredible, the level of dedication and professionalism, it's just second to none."

In August last year, the deaths of three climbers on the Aonach Eagach ridge, in Glencoe, sparked a joint investigation by The Health and Safety Executive and Police Scotland.

One of the climbers, Dave Fowler, was a mountaineering expert based in Fort William, and worked with West Coast Mountain Guides to offer guided traverses across Scotland’s trickiest terrain.

All three are believed to have fallen in tandem, roped together as they wound their way along what is thought to be the narrowest ridge in the British Isles.