17 September 2009

Mountain Skills in Kerry

Hill walking and hiking are a great way to stay fit, healthy and get fresh air. As darkness comes earlier and the temperature drops here’s some things to take into consideration over the autumn and winter.

Check the weather forecast before you go and if necessary alter your walk according to the weather. Two good websites are www.met.ie and www.windguru.com.

Check your map before you go.
Can complete your walk before darkness?
If there are cliffs to cross will the wind be a problem?
If there are streams to cross will they be flooded and dangerous?

No backpack is fully waterproof so put everything within your backpack into a plastic bin-bag to ensure your gear is kept fully dry.

Carry enough gear to keep you warm, dry, fed and watered; plus extra gear for incidents, such as a torch for being caught in twilight, hot drink for getting cold, spare fleeces that you don’t plan on wearing, extra hat and gloves and a survival bag for emergencies.

When you’re on the hills keep yourself dry and warm at all times, don’t allow yourself to get cold or wet, as it takes a lot more time and energy to re-heat yourself.

To get your clothing layers correct for walking, generally be a little cold when you leave your car and that way after ten mins you should be comfortable temperature.

If the weather changes or someone is struggling it’s better to decide to shorten your walk earlier rather than later.

On the Ordnance Survey 1:50 000 scale maps each blue grid box is 1km, from side to side.

Across general hill terrain an approx average walking speed is 3km per hour.

Pick out your route before you’re on the hills and track yourself across the hills, so if the mist comes down you should know where you are.

When you’re navigating try to use contour features, such as spurs, instead of streams and fences, as these can change, whereas contour features haven’t changed since the last ice-age!

If you get lost ideally just re-trace your steps to your last know position and start again.

Any comments or suggestions? What works for you in the hills? Please leave a comment below...

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