Mountain SafetyA guide to safe adventures in the mountains...
The Mourne Mountains are undoubtedly an awesome place, but as with all in mountainous regions, the factors that make them exhilarating are also those that pose the most risk. If you don’t take proper care, through careful planning, including obtaining and applying the correct skills and resources, then they can be treacherous.
The Mournes are best described as a dynamic landscape and one which requires an equally dynamic approach by those that wish to enjoy them. As such, the following is simply a guide, albeit well tried and tested, to help you get started and to build upon. It should by no means seen as a substitute for your personal skills, experience and judgement.
Plan and work within your skill and resource level but use every opportunity to develop your experience
- Consider your Mountain fitness, Navigation skills, Clothing & Equipment and the ability to deal with Mountain Emergencies including First Aid as a minimum.
- Best participating in groups of 2 or more and don’t forget to consider the above factors for all participants.
- Leave your intended route with a responsible individual, including start and finish locations/times.
- Keep your plan flexible and always have alternatives.
Wear appropriate footwear and clothing for the prevailing conditions, especially consider the impact of winter (cold/wet) conditions
- Footwear should be sturdy, have a treaded sole, support for your ankles and ‘broke in’ before that big day out!
- Clothing (full body) should be applied in layers, base (thermal), mid (warmth) and shell (windproof & waterproof) enabling you to moderate your clothing to coincide with the conditions.
- Don’t forget the importance of your extremities and always carry at least a hat, buff and gloves.
Carry food and drink sufficient to compensate for your additional exertion
- Take ample food and drink for your activity including additional high energy food such as chocolate and dried fruit.
- In cold, wet weather a warm drink is advisable and always carry water – even in cool weather it’s exceptionally easy to become dehydrated.
Take the right equipment and be sure to know how to use it properly
- Use a good Rucsac that enables you to carry clothing, food and drink alongside other essentials.
- Always carry your map and compass be easily accessible and while mobile phones and GPS are useful, don’t rely on your mobile – batteries can die and in many parts of the Mournes there isn’t any signal coverage anyway.
- Take a whistle, often underestimated in terms of value but probably one of the best bits of kit to have to hand if push comes to shove! You should also learn the signal for rescue: six good long blasts, stop for one minute, then repeat and keep going until someone reaches you.
- A head torch (plus spare batteries) is a must. You can also use it for signalling in the same pattern as the whistle blasts.
- A means of emergency shelter such as a bivvy bag, blizzard blanket or for groups in particular a bothy tent can prove invaluable.
Depending on your intentions, other items may include
- Crampons, etc
During your walk
Monitor your progress against terrain, skills, weather, equipment, energy levels etc and be prepared to amend your route or turn back.
In the unlikely instance that you do need assistance whether for yourself or someone else
In an emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Police and then Mountain Rescue and be prepared to provide
- Your name
- Your contact telephone number
- Your location – preferably a 6 figure grid reference and a physical description
- Casualties name and age
- What happened
- Casualties condition
- Number in party
- Age/ability of party
- Resources in party
And finally, while waiting on the Mountain Rescue Team responding
- Administer first aid as possible without further risk to yourself, party or casualty
- Protect ALL members of the party from the prevailing conditions
- Keep your phone free for incoming calls from the Mountain Rescue Team
- Create presence, i.e. Torches/Whistles to attract the Mountain Rescue Team