Self Reliance ( meaning “reliance on one’s own powers and resources rather than those of others”) on the mountains a few thoughts.

It is what many of us call this is the “silly season” it’s already started in my mind. The daylight hours are now shortening and the weather changing. Mountain Rescue Teams are getting busy as the weather, daylight catch folk out. We all make mistakes but I my view we should be a lot more self reliant when out on the mountains and wild places.

The Mamores early winter practising basic skills.

I was taught by so many great mentors one of the things was “self reliance “ a lot of folk still think that if they get into trouble all the have to do is pick up your phone call the Police and a Helicopter or Mountain Rescue Team will appear. Sadly this is not always the case !

How many folk know how many helicopters are there in Scotland that can respond weather permitting to launching an SAR aircraft to assist. They may have so many other things on. Like a rescue at sea a big crash that needs immediate evacuation a sick child that’s need to go to hospital quickly from a remote area. Someone has to prioritises these incidents. So you with your broken ankle or lost in the hills you may have a long wait before the “cavalry” arrive.

Are you prepared for hunkering down and waiting for assistance ? Try it spend some time on a summit and see how cold it gets.

Do you carry any emergency clothing such as an insulated jacket survival bag or bothy bag. A bothy bag is invaluable if it all goes wrong.

Do you carry a spare battery (a charger that will top up your phone there not expensive and a must for your phone) in a waterproof case that’s if you can get a signal, a torch that works a map compass etc . All part of being Self reliant !

So I ask you to look at the weather plan your day as we lose daylight, leave your route with someone you trust. The mountain Rescue teams and Dogs will find you but need to know what your plans were. You must try to be self reliant in every aspect.

Do not be a follower learn to navigate. Paths are snow covered in winter conditions change everything. Guide book time’s can be so different in deep snow or bad weather re appraise your route to suit the conditions.

A simple whistle is such an important tool as is communicating with your companions. Look after your companions do not let them lag behind stay together. Have a plan if all goes wrong.

At this time of year rivers flood and sometimes are uncross able. How would you cope with that? Check the weather forecasts and listen to good local advice.

Yet the hills this time of year with the stags bellowing as the rich autumn colours are a joy to see.

As I said try and find out how many helicopters are available for SAR in Scotland you could have a long wait are you prepared for that. Could you look after your companion if they are struggling ?

The Mountain Rescue Teams are all volunteers, great people who all live the mountains and wild places. We can all do our bit to help by trying to be as safe as we can. Yet if we are in trouble they will and do risk their lives for us. We are so lucky to have them so why not support your local team or an area you love. A little donation can help a huge bit.

Beinn Eighe .

The UK has an unique Mountain Rescue Service that as many envy let’s not take it for granted. There are many out there who will criticise this free service so we have to be on guard for that. There are so many good folk out there doing so much for others that never get the thanks they deserve?

Comments as always welcome you can donate to your local Mountain Rescue team or favourite area through the teams website or Facebook pages. You get this wee blog for free so why not help others.

Enjoy the hills and have fun !

Out in the winter ! Marvellous .

So please check your kit!

Plan your day for the time of year and conditions.

Ensure you carry a map in a waterproof case and compass and be confident in their use.

Carry a back up battery for your phone.

Make sure your torch is serviceable.

Winterise you’re hill bag.

Carry spare gloves losing a glove can be so serious in winter.

Plan your route – early start. Get weather forecast and later on Avalanche reports.

No when to turn round “the hills will always be there, the secret is to be there with them.

Leave your route with someone you trust with what you want done if your late etc.

Do not be a “follower” take part in all aspects of your hill day.

It’s not hill walking in winter it’s winter mountaineering !

A great piece of gear is a simple whistle if it all goes wrong.

As always comments welcome?

There is great information on the Mountaineering Scotland website it’s free and a brilliant tool. Well worth a look Mountaineering . Scotland website

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Books, Enviroment, Equipment, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Weather, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Self Reliance ( meaning “reliance on one’s own powers and resources rather than those of others”) on the mountains a few thoughts.

  1. Gary Hodgson says:

    I was yesterday in the Cairngorms. Minus 3 and a dusting of snow. It was good to see most folk looked like they were well prepared with good size rucksacks and quality clothing donned.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. James Higgins says:

    I would take students that were new to the hills and usually very flippant in there attitude to a wee hill called windy hill just above the ranger centre in clyde muirshiel country park. Very benign in name, country park, mmmm. I would give them an advice note instructing on the usual food, clothing etc, nothing of which was usually followed because it was a country park with a ranger centre. Ok. Windy hill lives up to its name usually so when out on the hill I would give someone the scenario of a badly twisted ankle. You cant move I would say, too painful. Get your extra clothing on. Oops no extra clothing. What now. Your mobile battery is dead and anyway, no signal. Oops. Nope cant walk too sore sit there. Within 20 minutes they were freezing and very uncomfortable. After watching them suffer I would give them a spare fleece from my pack and give them the news that they were maybe not ready for high remote hills


  3. Meant battery charger thanks !

    Sent from my iPhone



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