High wind in the mountains can be a real game changer, it can have a profound effect on safety and morale. It can make it feel much colder than it actually is (wind chill effect), and can be unpredictable in direction and speed. Strong winds, (those over 50-60km/hr), are going to impede your progress, and will significantly increase the risk of you being blown over and injured. In addition, walking into a strong headwind for a number of hours will sap both your energy and morale. Add significant gusting and you will be constantly adjusting your balance, foot placements and

Before being able to take an accurate compass bearing it is essential to understand the relationship between True North, Grid North and Magnetic North. The Three Norths Grid North Grid North is the navigational term for the northward projection of the north-south gridlines on a map. In Ireland it lies to the east of both True and Magnetic North. True North True or Geographic North is aligned with the Earth’s axis and points to the geographic North Pole, the axis on which the Earth is spinning. In Ireland it lies west of Grid North and east of Magnetic North. Magnetic

Many of us have an altimeter as an integral part of our mountain watches, but how many of us know the skills of navigating with an altimeter? Here are 5 tips on how to use an altimeter as a navigation tool. Before we begin however, a note of caution, altimeter watches rely on barometric pressure to calculate altitude and as the barometric pressure fluctuates so does the altitude reading, and this can lead to serious errors if not addressed. It is important to re-calibrate the altimeter regularly by re-setting it to the correct reading when a known altitude is reached,

This is a lament we hear often at Mountaintrails, sometimes spoken in frustration, sometimes in anger, and most often at the end of a wet day. So why is our precious waterproof clothing failing to perform? In many cases it is because we are simply asking too much of it.   The techi bit…. So called ‘breathable’ fabrics have a micro pore membrane bonded to a hardwearing outer layer. This membrane allows water vapour to pass through, but not liquid water. This in turn means that the moisture you produce when working hard is allowed to escape, whilst preventing rain

As summer advances ticks are becoming more active, and more outdoor enthusiasts are finding these unpleasant critters embedded in their skin. To understand the importance of avoiding being bitten, here are our Top Ten things you should know about ticks: 1.  Ticks are arachnids, and related to spiders and scorpions. They have a 3-stage life cycle, larvae, nymph and adult. At each stage they need a blood meal to grow, ticks feed on small mammals, deer and sheep and will bite humans. They are most active in late spring and summer.   2. Tick bites do not hurt, therefore you

It’s a cliché to say we have become reliant on technology, and we certainly need a map and compass, and perhaps a GPS system, to find our way around unfamiliar hills. But how did our ancestors find their way around, and what natural features did they use to navigate across the land in times gone by? Here are 5 ways in which our forebears may have navigated around the landscape; and though we don’t suggest you leave your map and compass at home, it might be fun to try these out sometime, and see if you can navigate like the

I was recently asked to produce a list of essential kit for hiking in the mountains (outside of winter), and I have reproduced it here, with some expanded explanations. The list is not comprehensive, and you may have a few items that you never leave home without to add to this list: Rucksack A pack of 30 – 35 litres capacity is best, and would be sufficient for carrying what you would need for the day. Rucksack liner or cover My preference is always for a liner, a waterproof bag that sits in the main compartment of your pack and

One of the most important navigation skills is being able to relocate yourself when you have become ‘lost’ or more correctly, ‘temporarily misplaced’. Having the relocation techniques to deal with such a situation is a key element in being a competent navigator. Firstly, do not panic. Stay calm and stay where you are. Many people, on realising they are misplaced, will press on more quickly, or walk in any direction in the hope of finding something they recognise, thus making the problem worse. Have something to eat and drink, this will both give you time to calm down and increase

Hypothermia occurs when the core temperature of the body falls below 35°C. Exposure Hypothermia occurs over several hours following exposure to moderate cold. The casualty becomes exhausted and then cools rapidly as their energy reserves are depleted and they are no longer able to shiver to re-warm themselves. Immersion Hypothermia occurs where the casualty has had a sudden immersion in cold water or snow, the cold rapidly overwhelms heat production. Although rarer in the mountains, it can happen if someone falls in an icy stream.   Main Causes and factors Hypothermia occurs when a body loses heat to the environment faster than its

Autumn is definitely upon us, the clocks go back at the end of his week, reducing the amount of available daylight in the evenings. Despite the gathering gloom and the cooler days, autumn also brings with it some great opportunities for the hiker and mountaineer.  The quality of the light becomes magical, and the golden glow from the sun is reflected back by the russet yellows and browns of the autumn leaves. Descending a hill at sunset, with crisp clear air and a stunning sunset is a special moment to savour. But as the seasons march on, and autumn turns