Updated: Apr 4
With winter soon upon us once more and as the weather turns colder on the Brecon Beacons, we have seen many comments popping up on social media about people's 'inadequate' clothing while out hiking. Particularly those walkers venturing up Pen y Fan, the tallest mountain in South Wales.
The topic has proved surprisingly controversial with opinions split between ‘You can wear what you like’ to ‘Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions, including spares.’
This is not a new argument, my father has many memories of his time in the Peak District Mountain Rescue and people's insistence to wear shorts, t-shirt and flip flops to climb Scafell Pike. Two walkers were rescued from the most dangerous route to the summit of Snowdon on Crib Goch. The mountain rescue team commented that the pair were "not properly equipped".
Crib Goch is considered to be a scramble rather than a walk or hike, even in the summer. In the winter, it is classed as a mountaineering route and requires full winter climbing equipment, such as ice axes and crampons.
You may also remember that we featured a post from Janiel at Culture Trekking where she recanted her fretful story of the night she thought would be her last when she went Backpacking up Mount Whitney.
I am a member of the Facebook group Walking the Brecon Beacons (WTBB) and there was a post from a member that had found a lost rucksack whilst out for a hike on Pen y Fan mountain in South Wales. The rucksack had a name on it ‘Ryan’ and the member was eager to reunite the bag with its rightful owner.
There was a flurry of comments from concerned members of the group pleading for ‘Ryan’ to check in and let us all know that he was safe. We all thought the worst, that he could be injured somewhere on the mountain.
Fortunately after several hours Ryan Thomson a member of the WTBB posted to the group that he was, in fact, fine and had thankfully collected his rucksack from the local police station where it had been taken for safekeeping.
What had happened was that Ryan’s walking companion had begun exhibiting early onset signs of hypothermia:
“Mumbles, Stumbles, Grumbles, Fumbles” so heading back to a point of safety was his number one priority.
On getting back to the car she was so cold that momentarily Ryan’s distraction was taken away from his kit:
Ryan then went on to share with the group one of the best posts I have ever seen. Ryan has kindly given me full permission to share his mountain survival top tips with you.
Mountain Survival Top Tips
1. Tell someone at home where you are.
2. Leave your route plan and direction of the route with ETAs.
3. Instructions to call mountain rescue if you do not check-in by a certain time.
4. Message an exact grid of your car on arrival.
5. Have a detailed weather report.
6. Check for changes and updates to the weather forecast.
7. Understand about the weather, wind and fronts.
8. Have basic first aid training or suitable survival skills training.
9. Ensure your equipment is expertly packed: For Example...
Red Goretex top and bottoms. These get packed in a red waterproof bag
Extremity kit - gaiters, gloves and hat are black and get packed in a black waterproof bag
Warm Rab is green and gets packed in a green bag
Lighting in a yellow bag
And medical in blue
10. Carry a head torch so that in the dark you can colour coordinate what you are grabbing from your kit.
11. Seek training in both day and night navigation.
How to map read and not use digital aids, so you can use a compass and take a bearing and count pace.
12. Never compromise on safety
13. Ensure your kit is waterproof.
14. Also, that is secure with no straps to tangle you up.
15. Know first light & last light times.
16. Hill angles, climb altitudes.
17. How to take back bearing and resection.
18. Ensure you have:
Food, water, warm and wet weather clothing
Spare batteries waterproofed
Phone charging kit
First aid kit
19. Know how to contact mountain rescue and how to give a grid reference.
20. Do not switch off for one second
21. Account for all people in the group at all times.
22. Check your kit regularly to make sure all kit is secure.
23. Make safety the priority.
24. Do not take risks.
25. Do not operate outside of your comfort zone.
In Ryan’s case, he placed his friend in the car, turned the heater on and stayed with her. His priority was getting her off the mountain to a warm pub for food so she could warm up slowly and safely. In that moment of ensuring her safety, he didn’t ensure the safety of his kit. He finished his post to the group with a final piece of advice.
You can have all the equipment in the world but if you don’t know what it is for, how to use it or where you have packed it then you may as well be in a t-shirt and shorts.
What 3 Words
Download the free What3Words app onto your phone. It is the simplest way to talk about location. Every 3m square in the world has a 3-word address that is used by emergency services to pinpoint your location. The idea behind the app is that 3-word addresses are easier to say and share and are accurate as GPS co-ordinates. Find out more about the app that could save your life at https://what3words.com.
Over to You...
Now it is your turn to share with us your stories. You can comment below with your top tips or close call stories. Find us on social media @AdventureAccess and use hashtag #AdventureWild.
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