The picture was taken in 1972 after I had been in the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team for a few months. I had just done my first winter. That was some introduction for a 7 stone wee lad . Every winter I learn something new!
The next few months will see a big change in weather as we head towards winter. There will be a lot of folk getting caught out in the dark and by the changing weather.
Torch : Always carry a torch that is serviceable and spare batteries. Worth checking every time you go out.
Navigation : Map in a waterproof bag and compass are essential as is the knowledge to use them. If you use a GPS or phone ensure you carry a battery pack and the phone is fully charged. Especially necessary in winter when the phone should be kept insulated . Most phones are designed to cope with use in warm houses/ workplaces not in hostile environments. In the cold and wet they lose power so easily.
Back up: Please add some additional gear like a small warm jacket as back up if things go wrong and back up gloves are another essential. A bothy bag between the party or group can be a life saved if you have an accident on the hill.
Tell someone your route: Always tell someone you trust your route and what to do if you do not return ?
Plan for the day : If out with a group discuss what to do if someone is hurt?
Remember it may take Mountain Rescue teams time to get to you. The weather and where you are in addition to helicopter availability are all things to remember. Could you or your mates cope with a long wait in bad weather. Try hanging about on a summit for a few minutes in poor weather and see how cold you get.
Early start: Get away early as possible it’s better to be walking in to your objective in the dark than stumbling of later on when your tired.
Plan Change: Always be prepared to change your plan “The hills will always be there the secret is to be there with them”
Hopefully these few tips will help you have a safe time on the hills as the weather changes.
Weather – most hill days are dominated by the weather. Read the weather forecasts before you go out and later on read the avalanche reports that start in mid December.
This time of year is a superb time. The hills are changing the days are shortening just plan for a shorter day as we loose the daylight.
The mountain Rescue Teams are busy enough and are there to assist. They are unpaid volunteers but risk their lives to help others.
Self reliance – we can all do our bit to be self reliant and look after each other on the hills.
The hills have given me so much joy over 60 years. They are there for all just be careful and remember while most of us are out enjoying ourselves some who love us do worry till we come safely home!
Tips – practice navigation with an experienced mountaineer or take a course on navigation and basic mountain skills there are so many great mountain guides out there.
That first snow always excites me as much as from my early days. You never stop learning no matter how old or wise you think you are. I get great joy seeing young folk who were out with me at the beginning of their mountaineering days become safe competent mountaineers.
There is superb advice on Mountaineering Scotland’s website it’s free and will answer so many questions you may have.
Get out there and enjoy !
Finally – “do not become a follower” take time to learn these skills and be part of the day! If it all goes wrong you can help it may save your pals life.