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, used 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 recognised that over 20% 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.
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. Recently, grid reference markers have been placed on pre-existing stiles and gates in Snowdonia to help temporarily disorientated walkers to pinpoint their position.
Of course, you’ll need a rucksack to carry the extra kit you’ll need for winter walking including spare clothing. Check out the options available in thermal base layers, mid layers and soft shell clothing as well as safety and survival gear