Wandering alone on the hills.A few tips.

Over the last few years I really enjoyed being alone on the hill. My last big day was before winter on the Fannichs. I could go at my own pace, stop when I wanted and admire the views. You see so much more on your own and as like to go into the remoter places were I can stop and look at the corrie and spot the odd climbs.

Safety: I do leave what hill I will be on with a friend I trust and o lots send a text on the summits with an updated time due back. I know my family worry and as I get older I take it a lot easier. As you get older your reactions are not as fast so I take it a lot slower.

Pushing it: I do not have the ambition to do lots as age catches up. If the weather is wild I am a lot more aware of my limitations.

Navigation; if your out alone your navigation has to spot on. Another tip is many older walkers are wearing glasses for the first time. As a specs wearer since very young they are restricting to day the least. Many need them and few carry them. I wonder how many epics/ accident are caused by this ?

Kit : I carry the usual gear plus a bothy bag and all my kit is brightly coloured. It’s far easier to see on the hill and better for photos.

Top Tip: Most of us as we get old still think we can still charge around as we did 40 years ago bear that in mind.

Sadly due to health problems I have not been out this winter. I cannot wait to get better and have a wander.

Comments as always welcome.

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 Friends, Gear, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Wandering alone on the hills.A few tips.

  1. Jim Higgins says:

    In my latter years there was nothing better than a solo night or two on a long mountain journey. It became the preferred choice for me as summiting became less important and even second to exploring the mountain at close quarters. Finding a good vantage point to wait for light or a natural phenomenon to occur was the order of the day.
    Having to walk in a party and keep to an agenda was beginning to be a burden. I am not a loner but perhaps a bit less gregarious in my older age. I still enjoy a walk with one or two pals but usually pals that know me and know I like to change things a bit as the mood of the hills dictate.
    I was confident in my own ability and had the skills to survive a wild night on the hill. I was confident that should the unthinkable happen and I got lost or twisted an ankle or something then I had the fitness and durability and skills to hang in there. I had to come down off Stob coire nan lochan after misjudging conditions, over zealous youth, with a badly damaged ankle and knee. Oh Aye and a split tail bone. Only to find my two mates listening to the car radio wondering what the hell kept me.
    After my heart surgery I think the confidence is well gone. My heart is better now than it has been in years but the complimentary medication makes it difficult to maintain a working core temperature so keeping on the move is the best way to achieve this. My doc says asprin (anti coagulant) is to blame. If I were ever to be benighted in a bivvi bag or snow hole them it would be difficult to maintain a healthy temperature for a long enough time. I could maybe do with a summer night bivvi just to test it out.
    Maybe some of your readers would have advice for me to help build my confidence again.
    I have always been a mega responsible person but sods law if it can happen it will. I would hate to think I will spend the rest of my days being a wet clout on my armchair watching youtube.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim Fraser says:

    The point you make about eyesight is a good one. I have been using differential contact lenses now for many years and several other members of the Kintail team do the same. This is where the dominant eye has a lens for the distance prescription and the other eye has a lens for the reading prescription. Your brain sorts it out! This also works with correction by laser eye surgery but it doesn’t work with glasses. For those with normal distance vision whose arms aren’t long enough (!) the answer is simply to use one disposable contact lens to their reading prescription in the non-dominant eye and then maps and compasses come back into focus. There are also multi-focal and other specialist contact lenses that can make this easier if they suit you. Fortunately, particularly in the hills, the outdoor environment is cooler and more moist for comfortable contact lens wear.

    There are now lots more ways to tell someone where you are going thanks to social media apps and email calendars. Email client apps such as Outlook or Thunderbird have calendars where you can invite contacts to events: invite them to check you are back safely!

    The matter of what happens if it all goes wrong is one that you and I have given much thought to over the years Heavy. Here’s my latest take on some of that.

    Being found is key. Roger Webb and Neil Wilson did a good talk on this at Craigdon a few years ago and that should definitely evolve into a training video! So, the bright colours like you mention but taking shelter from wind and rain will often obscure you so that has to be considered. You are just a little spec on a big hill.

    We shouldn’t have to keep banging on about carrying a torch but unfortunately it’s a relevant as ever. A headtorch can help to get you off the hill before it all goes wrong but many modern LED ones have an extra utility. Some will illuminate, all be it at a low intensity, for 100 hours, so you can leave it on and even if you are asleep or unconscious anyone looking for you should find you during the first night.

    Double-check your smartphone settings to ensure that AML/Emergency Location Services are ON. AML automatically sends a data stream with your location alongside any 999/112 call made from your phone. Check the EENA website for more info.

    Next year, when the new UKSAR2G SAR helicopter contract commences transition-in, it is expected that Smith-Meyers Artemis mobile phone detection will progressively be introduced to the SAR helicopter fleet. This means that every person carrying any kind of mobile phone is carrying a rescue beacon. Every phone that is switched on is detectable, regardless of network coverage, and can be interacted with. Police authorisation in the case of genuine SAR ops will be necessary for searches for specific phones. Smartphones are at a disadvantage of course because of battery life when compared to a Nokia 800 that has a standby time of weeks. Smartphone users should probably take a small powerbank with them on the hill. In areas with no network coverage, power consumption can be reduced by switching to 2G only and engaging any power-saving mode.

    Another techie solution is satellite beacons. We have had PLB use legalised in the UK for eleven years now. The latest stuff with high spec GNSS and MEOSAR are excellent. There are no subscriptions to pay but battery servicing every few years costs maybe half the price of a new unit. Many other types of beacon with messaging services and tracking are available and too numerous to mention. These will usually require payment of a subscription and regular attention to batteries.

    Thousands will disagree but I still say that hillwalkers in Scotland, particularly lone hilwalkers, should be wearing helmets. If something bad happens then you will need your head to be in working condition.

    Keep safe out there old gits!

    Liked by 1 person

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