Whenever I travel to the mountains, whether with friends or clients, I explain to them that, regardless of whether they are with a mountain guide, or an experienced friend or relative, they need to have a minimum amount of information about their intended route for their own and everyone else’s safety. The reason for this is simply that, when you are in the mountains, situations may arise which require any member off the party to pass on information to a potential rescue team, such as position coordinates or personal information.
Additionally, knowing whether you have been travelling towards the east or the west, have at least a basic understanding of first aid, knowledge of wind slab or avalanches, or the ability to construct an emergency shelter to ensure survival. All of this knowledge affords you with a greater understanding of the surrounding terrain and allows for an enhanced sense of freedom in nature, and, above all, greater safety.
AVALANCHE PREVENTION AND RESCUE TECHNIQUES
Just as it is important to be appropriately equipped physically, for your snowshoe trip, cross-country ski tour or winter mountain walking route, it is essential to be mentally equipped with the knowledge provided by a training course in avalanche prevention and rescue. More and more people are drawn to the mountains in winter but relatively few have a sufficient enough understanding of the hazards posed by the risk of avalanche.
Having skills in navigation provides a deeper perspective of the surrounding nature and terrain and a greater awareness of your environment, which allows you to traverse it more securely. It is not enough that just one party member knows the way; each person should be able to take the lead if and when required.
Such skills are not just aids to survival; they are tools which provide you with a deeper connection and understanding of the natural environment which you choose to explore, allowing you to travel with the least amount of equipment, respectfully and safely. Build your own shelter, create fire, locate a source of water, orientate yourself and observe the wildlife around you, connect with your truest and purest sense of self and you will understand the more complex you with greater clarity.
I have had the privilege of guiding people with blindness through harsh winter conditions, on demanding trekking routes and whilst ascending the summits of numerous mountain ranges. And, I am eager to share my knowledge and experience so that more and more people can challenge themselves and also find peace, in the mountains.
Where should I pitch the tent? How can I find water? What equipment is appropriate in each specific environment? How do I protect myself from the elements? What food should I carry? The answers to such questions rely on experience and knowledge, of the most demanding conditions and environments.