Mountain Info App, a new initiative aimed at helping mountaineers and hill walkers improve their planning and to help them be better prepared for their mountain activities, has been launched. The project will see modern technology combined with good old fashioned on-the ground advice to improve the resources available to hill walkers and mountaineers. The aim is to reduce unnecessary and avoidable Mountain Rescue Call-Outs, while getting the right emergency assistance to those in real need as quickly as possible.
A large percentage of calls to Mountain Rescue involve people who are not injured but are simply lost, disorientated or have simply got out of their depth. This is especially true of the more popular mountain areas, such as Snowdon, and the central Lake District. Studies in Snowdonia National Park suggest that many of these calls come from young adult males from urban areas who have very limited mountaineering or hill skills and that with some basic information, simple planning and preparation, many such calls could be avoided. The same study also concluded that many of the calls to people injured in the more popular mountain areas come from people who have made simple navigational errors which have led to the accident.
This project is primarily aimed at providing access to simple and clear advice to this audience before they venture out on to the hills. Evidence suggests that this audience does a lot of their preparation from websites and other on-line sources (especially YouTube!), and that they lack really basic information such as accurate weather forecasts, understanding the topography of a mountain, and certainly do not have basic navigation skills. Occasionally things do go wrong and many people (including some experienced climbers and mountaineers) make the wrong decisions. Sometimes people get confused about which emergency service to contact.
The project is a three-pronged approach to providing better and clearer information to mountain and hill-goers, based on using modern technology and targeted information. Initially based on issues in Wales, the project is funded by the Welsh Government, through Sports Wales, and put together by a partnership of the BMC, Mountain Leader Training Wales, Plas y Brenin, the Met Office and Snowdonia National Park.
How does it work?
Specialised weather forecasts are provided by the Met Office for all the main mountain areas of the UK. However, how many people use these forecasts and how many actually understand what they mean, especially on the most popular mountain areas? So, to help people the following are available -
- A series of five short video clips (two and a half minutes each) have been produced based on the BMC and Mountain Leader Training’s Hill Walking and Winter Essentials videos, and are available to view free on the Met Office website and also on the downloadable “app” that is a key part of this project. The video clips demonstrate how to prepare and plan for a day in the hills; simple navigation tips; emergency procedures; dealing with winter conditions and dealing with bad weather.
- When winter conditions prevail, a new facility on the Met Office Snowdonia Mountain weather forecast will allow Snowdonia National Park Wardens to provide a daily ground conditions report, based on the snow conditions (including snow level, suggested equipment, freezing levels, etc.).
- A free downloadable 'app' (at this time only available to iPhones) which has all the videos, a facility to take and send OS grid references, working from Google maps, an altimeter, a planning checklist, and an emergency procedures section. This app in particular is intended to reach the target audience of young urban males, who are IT savvy, to help them prepare for the their trips to the hills. However, it is not intended to be a substitute for basic skills or essential navigation equipment, but rather a timely reminder that those basic skills and equipment are essential.
Later in the year, as part of the project, it’s hoped that Snowdonia National Park will be able to provide fee Wi-Fi at key access points in Snowdonia, including Pen y Pass, where the app can be downloaded by mountain users.
More info on the app is available here; The videos can be viewed on the Met Office website and on Facebook
Remember, if you are unlucky enough to require emergency assistance in the hills or on inland crags, call 999 and ask for Police – Mountain Rescue
, even if you are at a roadside crag as ambulance staff are not trained or equipped to go off road or scrambling up cliffs.
Photo: The view from Snowdon Summit; Credit: http://www.snowdonrailway.co.uk