Mountainsafe North Wales Christmas messagephoto of snowdonia

18/12/2012

Saving Lives with Last Minute Christmas Shopping

 

Are you stuck for ideas for stocking fillers, or what to get your loved ones for Christmas? If so, Snowdonia’s Mountainsafe initiative has come up with its Top 5 Christmas Gifts, which, by using correctly, could save lives.

 

Mountainsafe’s Top 5 Gifts are:

1.     Torch and batteries: Rescue teams are often called to assist casualties who have miscalculated the duration of their walk and are caught out by the shortness of daylight. Carrying a torch is essential because the days are at their shortest over the Christmas period.

2.     Hat: It is recognized that over twenty percent of body heat is lost through the head, therefore, as the weather becomes colder, a warm hat should be an essential item.

3.     Gloves: the main function of cold weather gloves is to keep the hands warm and dry. Dexterity should be a consideration, along with keeping hands warm for several hours at a time.

4.     Walking Poles: Using a pair of walking poles eases the strain on the knees particularly when walking down a mountain. However, using poles when walking over snow and in particular icy patches on well trodden paths, can prove useful in avoiding slips and tumbles and any potential injuries from happening.

5.     Winter skills courses: An ice axe and crampons are also essential pieces of equipment for those venturing to areas covered in snow. More important however, is knowing how to use them safely. There are many professional instructors and outdoor centres based in Snowdonia who can provide excellent instruction in their use.

 

On behalf of Mountainsafe, Llanberis Rescue Team Chairman, John Grisdale said,

“It’s important to respect the mountains whatever the season. However, winter can be less forgiving, and as all hill sheep farmers will confirm, conditions in the hills can be arctic and change rapidly. Those venturing on the mountains should be adequately shod and clothed for the prevailing conditions and checking the weather forecast for the day is always a wise decision. In addition, those venturing to the high snow clad summits should possess winter equipment such as ice axe and crampons and know how to use them. These high excursions can be very demanding and only the experienced should venture on to steep ground covered in snow and ice.”

 

Careful planning is always recommended before venturing into the mountains.  Researching the route thoroughly beforehand is highly advised, including finding out what the conditions on the ground are before setting out. It is also important to check the weather forecast. The bilingual Twitter service @eryridiogel in Welsh and @safesnowdonia in English tweet any change in ground conditions, weather information, general advice on walking in the mountains and also highlight good examples of mountaineering.

 

Therefore, whilst dreaming of a white Christmas how about writing a walking wish list to Father Christmas with items which might include a torch, hat and gloves, walking poles and learning how to use walking equipment correctly. They could help you to enjoy your experience in the mountains and allow the members of mountain rescue teams to have a restful festive season.

 

The Mountainsafe Partnership scheme is supported by the North Wales Police, British Mountaineering Council, Mountain Leader Training (Wales), Snowdonia National Park Authority, the Met Office and Plas y Brenin (the National Mountain Centre), with funding from the Welsh Government , via Sport Wales.

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