The number of calls for assistance to Mountain Rescue Teams in Snowdonia has significantly increased. However, modern mobile technology and an awareness initiative launched this month will contribute towards reducing these calls and a safer enjoyment of the area. The Mountain Info Services Project was formally launched by Hywel Williams MP at the Snowdonia National Park Warden centre at Pen y Pass. It aims to give mountaineers and hillwalkers access to state-of-the-art information, as well as traditional safety advice and enable them to plan a journey or walk in the mountains of Snowdonia safely.
During 2011, 411 calls for assistance to Mountain Rescue Teams were made as people ventured to North Wales to enjoy the beauty and special qualities of the area and this resulted in 291 Mountain Rescue team deployments. Recent research shows that a significant number of avoidable calls were made by young male adults who were not adequately prepared or did not have the required skills or equipment for their activity. The “Reducing Mountain Accidents in Snowdonia” survey concluded that young male adults from urban areas were mainly responsible for these avoidable calls. The Mountain Info Service Project aims to target this particular audience by using modern technology and today at the Pen y Pass cafe, a new app for the iPhone
was launched by Hywel Williams MP who said, “By applying the latest technology to the field of mountain safety, which is such an important issue in areas such as Snowdonia, there is a greater chance of accident prevention and of promoting the safe enjoyment of our wonderful hills and mountains. In so doing, the strain on local Mountain Rescue Teams will also be eased. I congratulate everyone involved with the Mountain Info Service Project, and hope that all mountaineers and walkers, be they local residents or visitors, will take full advantage of the advice and information that is available.” Elfyn Jones, British Mountaineering Council (BMC) Officer for Wales, added, Although visitors may have researched the area on the internet before coming, some may not have the required skills to read and use maps and have not prepared themselves for travelling safely in the mountain environment. This app provides the necessary information for visitors who are planning a trip to Snowdon and will help them make an informed judgement before they begin their journey.” As a result of the Mountain Information Services project, in addition to the development of the new Mountain Info app which is available from iTunes, three additional tools have been developed:
- A daily report by Snowdonia National Park Wardens on ground conditions and snow levels on the mountains during the winter months, including advice on the skills and equipment required to enjoy these conditions safely. These are provided for the Met Office’s Mountain area forecasts page www.metoffice.gov.uk/loutdoor/mountainsafety/snowdonia/snowdonia_latest_pressure.html and on Twitter by following @safesnowdonia or @eryridiogel.
- A series of five short video clips narrated by Sian Lloyd, demonstrating the way to prepare for a journey in the mountains including hazard avoidance and what to do in an emergency. These are available on the Met Office and YouTube websites. Visit www.metoffice.gov.uk/loutdoor/mountainsafety/video.html.
- A publicity and marketing campaign to publicise the project, made up of posters, banners, leaflets and commissioning articles in relevant magazines and periodicals.
The Mountain Info app was rated as the best available app for mountain safety planning by novices by Trail
magazine in autumn 2011 and, depending on funding, it is hoped that a Welsh version of the app will be produced in future.