With the autumn weather on its way into the Torridon Hills, our head of activities Charlie has shared his safety advice for people wanting to experience the peaks of the Scottish Highlands.
How can hillwalkers prepare for a day on the Torridon Hills?
Make sure you check the weather the night before and in the morning. There are plenty of good mountain specific forecasts available such as the Met Office and the Mountain Weather Information Service. Yr.no and XC Weather are also very good. It’s worth looking at whether you are going to have to do any river crossings and what the river levels are like. The met office rain radar is another useful tool for this.
Have a Plan B if things don’t go the way you’ve planned with escape routes. Make sure you tell someone where you are going as well as a time that you will be back and what they should do if you don’t arrive back in time. Also look around when you arrive at the carpark and throughout the day to see if things match up with what you were expecting – how wet is it, what is the weather doing? The weather can be incredibly localised so don’t just assume the forecast is right. Finally, make sure you have everything in your bag before you leave. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a carpark and realising you’ve forgotten your boots!
What must-have items should every hillwalker have on them when embarking on a climb?
Map and compass is always a must – and know how to use them. Use maps not apps! Phones run out of battery, especially when it’s cold and you might need that battery to call for help. You should be able to relocate yourself using a map, so if you need to call for help you can give a six-figure grid reference to the mountain rescue. I always carry a number of emergency items on the hill whether I am with a group or just with friends. Such as a first aid kit, an emergency shelter, spare warm layers, waterproofs (even if the sun is out!), gloves, hat and a mobile phone with lots of battery. Other things to consider might be a personal location beacon. These work off a GPS signal which is very useful if you are needing help somewhere without phone signal.
What warning signals should climbers look out for when on the hills?
Keep an eye on incoming weather fronts and if the weather is doing anything unusual that you wouldn’t expect from the forecast. Also remember that the wind can pick up really quickly and can easily blow you off your feet. Wind can get a lot stronger in glens and once you get on top of a ridge. Temperature can also decrease rapidly with height – up to 1 degree per hundred metres. So, if you’re starting at sea level and the temperature is in single figures then you might be expecting some snow at the top!
How can Scotland Mountain Rescue be contacted?
Call 112 or 999 and ask for the Police. 112 is usually a better bet as this will automatically put you through to the local call centre, so they are more likely to have a better idea of where you are and what kind of situation you are in. You can also register with 999 by texting the word ‘register’ to 999. This will then allow you to send for help via a text message if you are struggling for reception.
How can climbers tell it’s time to turn around and make their way back?
Keeping an eye on the time, the light and the weather are all important when deciding if it’s time to turn back. You should have a plan as to when you will reach certain points on your trip and if things aren’t going to plan and you’re running out of time its normally worth turning back. The mountain isn’t going anywhere so if it’s not happening then come back another time rather than trying to push on and ending up having an epic. Listen to your gut and don’t be overcome with the infamous ‘summit fever’!
For more information or to book a guided walk, please click here.