THIS year’s Mountain Aid Mountain Safety Day in the Albert Halls, Stirling, is barely two months away, and plans are well underway for another great day.
I’m delighted to be Patron of Mountain Aid, whose main aims are to promote safety initiatives on Scottish hills and support Mountain Rescue.
Mountain Safety Day will take place on Saturday 11th October, and will hopefully whet your appetite for our hills in all seasons and make you aware of the wide range of support available nowadays to enable you to realise your aspirations.
Most of the participants from our previous Mountain Safety Day in 2011 want to take part again, so you can expect to see many familiar faces. However this time we have a few significant additions.
At the younger end of the spectrum, we are pleased to welcome the Scout organisation, and some Explorer Scouts from the Stirling area are expected to attend.
Also, at our event, youngsters can get an appreciation of the challenges offered by the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, and we are delighted to feature a display stand for them.
Foundation Scotland, who organise the annual Caledonian Challenge, are also supporting our event. They will provide publicity material on this and their other activities.
Hill walking and mountaineering clubs cater for all levels of experience and are an excellent means of making friends and gaining confidence. We are pleased to have the Ochils Mountaineering Club along and they will welcome new members from Central Scotland.
Details of other clubs, which may be closer to where you are based, can be obtained at the Mountaineering Council of Scotland’s stand. Rambler’s Scotland will also be present.
Top traders Tiso, Nevisport and Cotswold will be on hand to provide comprehensive advice on the latest outdoor equipment. To avoid too much overlap, we have asked Cotswold Outdoor to concentrate on boots, crampons, ice axes and walking poles. Their Boot Clinic was particularly popular at previous Mountain Safety Days.
Tiso will be displaying mountain tents, rucksacks, cooking and survival equipment and will be showing the latest in lightweight gear. Nevisport will feature clothing and outdoor gear for all seasons.
Navigation skills are essential for all who venture on to Scottish hills, not just the team leaders. Harvey Maps will be displaying their specialist range of waterproof mountain maps and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland stand will feature the digital mapping approach developed by Anquet.
Many organisations offer courses in navigation, including Glenmore Lodge and C-N-Do. The latter will have personnel from National Navigation Awards Scheme on hand to provide details of what recognised qualifications can be acquired.
Where best to stay is an important factor on any trip within Scotland. While there is a widespread opportunity for wild camping, a good network of interesting SYHA and Independent Hostels exist and up to date information on these will be available to all who attend our event. You should also be aware of the good work of the Mountain Bothies Association, who provide refuge in remote areas.
Accurate weather forecasting is of vital importance in both summer and winter. Nowadays the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) can offer reliable data specific to the area you intend to visit. At their workstation they will provide a demonstration of this.
In winter months remember to consult the Sportscotland Avalanche InformationService (SAIS) to assess the risk in the area you are contemplating visiting. If it is high, do not hesitate to modify your plans.
All three local Mountain Rescue Teams are supporting our event and doubtless you will see their vehicles as you arrive at the Albert Halls.
Mountain Rescue personnel will be on stage throughout the event and we urge you to seek advice from them in the favourable conditions of a Mountain Safety Day, rather than at an incident involving you on a hill.
Search and Rescue Dogs Association (SARDA) are also attending our event and you can learn more about the specialist service they provide.
A feature of our Mountain Safety Day will be a class that Heather Morning intends holding, to outline and discuss with the audience a potential accident scenario. This will be held in a side room and will draw on her extensive experience as Safety Officer with MCofS and with Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team & SARDA.
Police Scotland who are the first point of contact for those in trouble on the hill and who are responsible for co-ordinating the call out of Mountain Rescue Teams will have a presence at our event.
They have agreed to run a First Aid workstation, which will offer practical advice from their paramedics on what to do when someone you are with feels unwell, or in involved in some form of accident.
Other notable organisations you can expect to encounter at our Mountain Safety Day include the John Muir Trust, who are at the forefront of conservation work in Scotland, as are Scotways who provide information on heritage paths.
We are also pleased to feature Scotland Outdoors and Cicerone Press who both provide a wide range of publications and guide books for Scotland.
As in our previous event in 2011, the Upstairs Hall will be used for a series of Talks, starting with one from myself at 11am, following on from the opening the event at 10am. A selection of my books and CD’s will be available beside the Mountain Aid stand at the entrance to the Downstairs Hall.
Safe enjoyment of Scottish Hills is the ethos of our charity and we believe Scotland’s Mountain Safety Day on Saturday, October 11 will go a long way to promoting this. Hope to see you there!
You’ll find more info on Mountain Aid at www.mountainaid.org.uk