A super quick, bare essential guide on staying safe in the mountains.
Unless you are living in a bubble, you will be aware of the recent restrictions that have been lifted, allowing you to travel for unlimited exercise providing you come back the same day. Personal opinion aside on whether this is a good or bad idea, I am more concerned with ensuring the safety of our local mountain rescue teams.
I am a member of a fair few hiking groups on Facebook and since lockdown there is an ever increasing number of people who are expressing an interest in hill walking which is amazing! However, there is no doubt that a large proportion of mountain rescue call outs are caused by walkers not having the right clothing, equipment or the necessary navigation skills appropriate for the walks they are undertaking.
Let’s work together to keep our mountain rescue teams safe!
I’m not going to tell you to take a waterproof because that really should be obvious WE ARE IN BRITAN for goodness sake! Get wet, stay cold.
Layers: The weather on a hill/mountain can change dramatically and very quickly, it may look like all ☀️ when you start, but as you get higher the temperature drops and the windchill alone can make it feels a fair few degrees colder. So don’t risk getting 🥶. Take plenty of layers including hats & gloves. See picture below to see what ‘layering up’ looks like.
Footwear 🥾: Hiking boots aren’t just a fashion accessory believe it or not. Yes, waterproof boots are good because no one likes wet feet, you’d also be surprised how many bogs are just waiting for their unsuspecting victim to step into their muddy, watery pits of doom. But more importantly (in my opinion) is the grip and ankle support they provide, especially on wet or slippery rock. The amount of times I have gone over on my ankle thinking ‘if it weren’t for the boots that could have been a lot worse’. So even if you get a cheap pair to begin with, they are worth the investment.
Don’t go picking up one of those bloody leaflets with a ‘step by step guide’, walk 200m and the track forks left….. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY TIMES THEY GOT ME LOST (I spent a whole hour in a corn field once having no clue where the exit was).
If you have never done map reading before, its not easy to get your head around, I get that. However, you can get some quite good videos on YouTube that teach you how to use a compass and read a grid reference.
Consider downloading an app like OSMaps or ViewRanger, I would always recommend using this in conjunction with a map, but if you are really struggling its better to have one of these apps than nothing!! Both platforms have free versions, but for the price, to help stop you from getting lost, it’s a no brainier!
Safety First ⛑️
There are a few essentials I would recommend taking with you…
First aid kit – obvious reasons, I always add paracetamol and blister plasters to mine.
Emergency foil blanket – No one plans on having an accident, but if you do, you might be waiting for a rescue team for a really long time. You will quickly get cold, especially if you are injured. These are cheap, carry no weight and are small. Silly not to have one.
Head torch – If you get lost, or misjudge the length of the route, or even your own fitness you might find yourself on the mountains in the dark (its happened to me a few times). If you don’t want to invest in a head torch, take some form of torch (don’t rely on your phone)
Food / Water – I always take extra food if I’m walking on my own just in case I’m stuck there a while
Emergency blanket – Bit heavier than the foil blanket but good in case you do get stuck and you think you might have to camp overnight.
Emergency whistle – Again, small, don’t take up any weight, great for attracting attention.
These 3 words app – If you do get lost, you can use this to help a rescue team find you.
Don’t be unprepared, don’t underestimate the mountains and have many fun adventures!