2 August 2010

Mountain Navigation Training

Last weekend we ran a Mountain Training & Navigation Day for Focus Ireland's 4 Peaks Challenge and also their Highest Peak Challenge. We were based in Laragh and used the Wicklow Mountains for our map reading and navigation training.

Apart from the technical aspects of the training day here's some of the more subtle points that we covered, that are just as important on the hills and mountains as map reading skills.

When you begin your hill walk, be a little on the chilly side; as once you start moving you're going to warm up, to what is hopefully a comfortable temperature. If you begin your hill walk at a comfortable temperature you'll soon be overheating and need to stop to shed layers.

Try not to sweat, as you both dehydrate yourself and also get your layers damp - which turn cold when you stop. Some people change into a dry top at the end of the first main, hot ascent.

Use both your walking pace and open or close all of your different zips to adjust body heat. Also taking smaller than usual steps will make your day easier, especially ascending.

On steep, broken or slippery ground try side-stepping or edging your boots into the slope of the hill to give you better grip (like side-stepping on a pair of skis).

Be organised with your backpack - know where everything is and have everything in waterproof bags, or a backpack liner. Put gear into your pockets when you stop for a breather, that you think you may need, such as chocolate or compass, so you don't waste time constantly stopping, starting and searching for gear.

There is quite a bit of essential gear needed a day in the hills, but to sum it up, do you have enough equipment to survive cold, wet weather, or an overnight on the mountains? Even if you need to call Mountain Rescue, there is often a wait of three to six hours before they may arrive with you and then you still need to get down off the mountain. A €10 bivvy bag/survival bag is an essential item for the bottom of your bag, plus a plastic whistle and torch.

If You Get Lost: stay where you are; stay warm and dry; blow your whistle; listen for the other party members calling for you.

If You Lose A Member: stay calm; retrace your steps, in a linear fashion; blow your whistles; listen for the lost member calling for you.

For Mountain Skills Courses Click Here

More Info
Map Reading & Navigation:

Taking A Compass Bearing:

Taking A Compass Bearing:

What To Look For With Hiking Equipment:

Preventing Mountain Incidents:

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