What kit do you have in your bag? We are all guilty of "acht, I’m just nipping out – local loop – I’ll just take my hip pack – be fine. Be back by lunch – soup on – bosh! Done." There have been many articles written about what layers to carry in our winter packs (spare clothes including extra gloves, a beanie, buff a down jacket/gilet that can be compressed an emergency shelter/bivvy) but do we all do this?
We recently read a blog post from a mountain rescue team member highlighting everything that goes on to get folks off the hill. This really struck a chord with us. The most interesting part was when the writer suggested that folks should try this - go outside in the kit you would be wearing with your pack, into your garden or just out for a bit, and then…sit down and wait. After a few minutes, you get cold,, a wee while longer, you'll get REALLY cold, and it’s getting dark. The question was asked: “What do you wish you had with you?”. An interesting perspective changer for some.
Suddenly the windproof you brought aint cutting the mustard, your gloves aren’t really that warm and you really wish you had a hat, your lid isn’t keeping you cosy.
You’re at the high point of your ride and have an awkward off, not enough to knock yourself out but you’ve clearly broken your ankle It’s taken you over an hour to get there, but no worries you have a mobile AND there is signal. You can call Mountain Rescue and give them your location.
Amazing. Now what?
If you’re lucky, the phone call was routed from the police to MR.
If you’re lucky, the information of your Grid reference has been communicated correctly.
If you’re lucky, they’ll Sarloc you- which geolocates your phone. Awesome. This has taken 30 mins so far.
The call goes out to the team- it may take 20 mins for the first members to arrive at base. Give it another 10/15 mins for information to be gathered, kit sorted and get into the trucks and away.
Depending on the closest access point, that might be 20/30 mins drive- so only now is the MR team maybe getting onto the hill.
In the best case scenario, from your original call, you’ve been lying there for more than an hour in the cold, rain/hail/wind etc. How warm are you? (We are not going to ask how comfortable are you, as you've got a broken ankle).
Considering it took you an hour to get where you are with a small pack, MR are heading out with rucksacks full of gear. If you’re lucky, there is a fast party who will try to get to you as fast as possible- it might take another hour, by which point you’ve been on the hill for 3 hours, 2 of which you have been stationary in the elements.
Got enough in your bag to deal with that?
We are not trying to scaremonger or suggest that we all go outside and sit in our gardens in the cold. This may however be a great exercise to get your teenage riders to do though as they start venturing out on their own or with pals, but hopefully, this will help to make us all think further about looking after ourselves better as we continue to ride through the winter.
Ride safe folks. For more winter riding safety tips see here.