Welcome to the wonderful spectacle of the winter mountain. Its unusual and wild beauty often makes us feel ecstatic, as if we were before the song of a mermaid. Those days that we share ground with the snow and ice provide us with the most demanding and hardest hours but also the most gratifying and memorable ones in our walk around the mountain. But do not be fooled, the mountain in these circumstances is hard, ruthless, sometimes very unfair and does not usually give a second chance.
This is not a world for the reckless, careless, and unprepared, here you are in the realm of avalanches, poor visibility, low temperatures, high winds, and sudden weather changes, where learning by trial and error is usually not a good idea, where ignorance of alpine techniques is not an excuse, where an "I didn't know..." is useless and where in the best of cases you will be rescued, putting at risk the life of the rescuers as well, and only if you are lucky, the mountain will have taught you a hard but healthy lesson.
Whether you are a hiker, mountaineer or climber, in the winter it is essential to prepare and plan the route, to handle crampons and ice axes with ease, to know the systems of securing in the snow, to know how to identify the route that can be the safest, to know the techniques of rescue with a shovel and arva, and to know how to orientate yourself in situations of poor visibility. The study of the composition of the snow and its interrelationship with the wind, the sun and the temperature (formation of plates and avalanches), knowing how to make shelters in case of unforeseen events, or understanding how the cold can affect our body (hypothermia, frostbite, snow blindness ...) are also essential points to carry out our activity successfully and safely.
I think in my humble opinion that training in this case is fundamental. The realization of different courses that give us to know and allow us to practice the basic techniques for the progression in this type of fields in a controlled environment and with professionals, is a necessary step. Also in my opinion, I think that doing activities guided by mountain professionals gives us a plus of security, especially if we still do not have the necessary experience in these circumstances or we are going to do some activity that exceeds our technical knowledge.
Now let's enjoy the mountain in winter and always remember to apply common sense to your decisions.