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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Ashby

Five Ways To Stay Safe on A Mountain

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

Each year, there are around 3000 call outs for Mountain Rescue teams across England and Wales. If you don’t want to be one of those people that needs to make that call, you need to be prepared. Whether you’re walking or climbing in the Lake District, Wales, Scotland, the South Pennines, Dartmoor, or anywhere else, there are certain things you can do to keep yourself safe.

Here are five ways to make sure you don’t get into difficulties and end up needing to call the emergency services.

1. Wear Suitable Clothes and Footwear

Wales Online says Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue reported 20 call outs in one month in September 2021 due to walkers being ill-equipped. Some were dressed as if they were going across the supermarket car park. There have even been reports of people climbing Snowdon in flip-flops.

It’s essential that you wear hillwalking boots or sturdy trekking shoes and the right clothes for the time of year. Remember, the weather can change suddenly and unexpectedly when you’re on a mountain, and it’s going to be cold at the top, even in summer.

2. Take The Right Kit

In 2020, there were 446 call outs for Mountain Rescue in North Wales. A vast majority was due to walkers being underprepared and caught out in bad weather. As a minimum, you will need:

  • A map of the area and a case to protect it.

  • Compass.

  • Head Torch and batteries.

  • Food and Drink.

  • Waterproofs.

  • Hat and gloves.

  • Sun cream and sun hat.

  • Fully charged phone and waterproof phone case.

  • Portable power device to recharge your phone.

  • Spare socks.

  • A spare warm layer.

3. Be Prepared

  • Research the best route and make sure you’re physically fit enough to tackle it.

  • Check the weather in advance. And on the day, check and check again.

  • Tell someone about your plans. Give them a copy of your planned route and an estimated time for your return.

4. Know The Dangers

Potential dangers include:

Bad weather: You could lose visibility, get wet and cold, or the ground could become slippy and unstable. Further, you could be at risk from lightning strikes, flooding, or falling objects.

Lack of Visibility: Even with a head torch, you won’t be able to see well when you are climbing at night or in the early morning. If you can’t see clearly, you’re at risk of tripping, falling, or getting lost.

Exhaustion: You tend to lose focus or shut down when you’re tired. As a result, you won’t notice things around you, and you might lose track of where you’re going.

The Risk of Injuries: Would you know what to do if you sprained your ankle or fell and hurt yourself? Do you know the signs of heat exhaustion, heatstroke, frostbite, and hypothermia?

5. Walk With a Guide

The problem with climbing a mountain for the first time is that you can underestimate the difficulty of the venture. Reaching the summit is only half the battle; you need to be able to get down safely, and going down isn’t necessarily easier. That’s why it’s better to walk with an experienced guide or hiking group. A guide will be able to use a map and compass competently so you don’t get lost, and is more likely to recognise dangerous terrain where you risk falling.

Someone with the right skills and experience will know when to push on and when it’s better to turn back, what kit to take, how to deal with a medical emergency, and practical things, like the best place to park your car and time of day to set out.

It’s reassuring to know that a Mountain Rescue Team would be there for you if you needed them. However, it’s far better if you don’t. One of the best ways to support these skilled volunteers is to do as much as you can to ensure you don’t need them! Stay safe on the mountain by joining one of our guided walks. We're a friendly hiking group in Coventry and we can tailor experiences to suit you.


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