A few words about safety...
Mountaineering can never be a totally safe sport, but with the right equipment, good advice and common sense, the risk of accidents can be greatly reduced. In the past few years there have been a number of accidents on club trips, many of which could have been prevented. Getting lost, benightment, exposure and hypothermia are the major risks. Often one may lead to another so always take spare clothes and food. Be prepared for a bivouac. Come along to the navigation workshop (in the autumn term).
Winter in Scotland adds more dangers. A simple slip on snow can quickly become a serious fall. Always carry an ice axe and crampons, and practice using them under controlled conditions. Avalanches do happen. Learn what you can do and ask for advice.
Climbing adds many more potential risks and we cannot hope to offer comprehensive advice on avoiding them all. Compared to the peak or Wales, the cliffs in Scotland are big and remote, and many of the routes are not climbed too often. Route finding may be a problem. Often there will be loose or suspect rock or poor ice. Make sure your belays are good and back them up properly.
Every time you go out in the hills, you must take personal responsibility for your own safety. As part of this, it is essential that you fill in a route card before you head off for the day, stating who is in your party, where you are going and an estimated time of return. This should be handed back to the meet leader and is an invaluable source of information should anything go wrong. You must never rely on other people but at the same time you must look out for your friends. If you have any doubts, ask for advice or help, or turn back. A bruised ego is better than a broken body.
Finally don't be put off by all this. Mountaineering is meant to be fun. With a little care you should enjoy many fine trips to the hills.
We advise that you read our Safety Guidelines here.
In Scotland both the weather and the mountains themselves are often far more severe than anything found in England or Wales. The basic motto is be prepared for the worst. We cannot over stress the importance of having the few basic items of equipment listed below. If you are new to Edinburgh and to mountaineering, then any of the club committee will be happy to direct you to one of Edinburgh's many outdoor shops and to offer advice.??You will need to buy, beg, borrow or rent??the following:
- Walking boots - with a good sole and ankle support
- Waterproofs (Jacket & Trousers) - these do not need to be expensive or made out of Gore-Tex, but they do need to keep you dry
- Map & Compass - at least one set per group, and remember that they are useless if you do not know how to use them
- Survival Bag - the orange plastic ones are very cheap so no excuse not to carry one whenever you are out (they also make excellent sledges)
- Whistle - the best 50p you can spend
- Torch - with spare batteries
- Warm Clothes - remember that lots of thin layers are better than one thick one, and that jeans are very cold and uncomfortable when they get wet (and they will!) - always take a spare jumper and keep it dry by wrapping it in a bin liner
- Wooly Hat - functional and fashionable
Most of the club trips involve camping over a weekend. You will need a sleeping bag, and a rucksack to put all your things in. You can hire a tent and stove from the club store, or share with a friend. Always arrange this on Wednesday or Thursday, don't leave it until you have got on the bus on Friday!
There can be snow on the Scottish hills from November through to May. Try to find out in advance what the conditions are like (ask the meet leader) or check the forecast online. If there is any possibility of venturing above the snow line, you MUST take an ice axe and crampons, which you can borrow from the Gear Store. More importantly, they are useless to the point of being dangerous unless you know how to use them correctly. Get a friend to teach you, or take one of the winter skills courses at Glenmore Lodge which are subsidised by the club.