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Buying Footwear for Hiking

Learning the hard way

I remember buying my first pair of walking boots long before the days of the internet. Armed with knowledge of the “best in test” from the latest walking magazine I headed out to a local outdoors shop and just bought them.

I’m not a fool, I did try them on in the shop, they felt ok – however, being my first pair of walking boots I didn’t know what they should feel like, but I was confident that they would be good as they were “best in test”! I parted with my hard earned cash and left the store with my new boots in a bag with dreams of long days exploring mountains as per the articles in the same magazine.

BUT on the first day out the boots crippled me! I got the biggest and most painful blisters ever. I assumed they needed “breaking in” so I wore them for small local walks, but I suffered blisters every time. I tried everything, different socks, two pairs of socks, different lacing techniques, vaseline, strapping, but no difference! I eventually gave up and went to another outdoor shop, one with a boot fitting service.

I entered this shop armed with my boots and explained the situation to an assistant. We walked to the boot section, but rather than trying on other boots the assistant asked me a load of questions including but not limited to…..

  1. What type of hiking are you planning to do with these boots?
  2. Where are you going to hike?
  3. When are you looking to hike, between what months?
  4. Are you going to do single day hiking or looking to do multi-day hiking?
  5. Do you want to hike steep mountains and maybe a bit of scrambling?

After answering these questions the assistant had a good look at my feet and proceeded to measure them whilst I was sitting down and then standing up.

Lesson One, what I thought was my shoe size is not my shoe size! Yeah, the original boots I bought were the wrong size!

Lesson Two, my foot has a specific shape and boots have a specific shape called a “last” and each manufacturer have slightly different lasts. Therefore, we needed to match my foot shape to the manufacturers last. Yeah, the boots I bought did not suit my foot shape!

Lesson Three, there are hiking boots for different seasons, conditions and uses. Yeah, the boots I bought were not suitable for what I wanted to do!

Armed with the knowledge of my intended mountains adventures, my foot shape and size the assistant disappeared into the back and re-appeared with a tower of boot boxes.

First pair were unboxed, not to try on but the insoles were removed and I was asked to stand on them whilst the assistant checked my feet on each insole, this was repeated with several other boot insoles…..

After the insole test we dismissed a number of pairs and I eventually got to try on the remaining boots. Wow what a difference in fit and feel compared to those things I bought! However, the assistant was still not finished we had to do more tests to make sure they were the right boot:

  • Walk around the shop a few times, go up and down the stairs, how do they feel?
  • Now onto the slope, walk up the slope any heel lift or rubbing?
  • Face down the slope and stomp your feet, have your feet moved down the boot or are your toes touching the front of the boots?
  • Onto the rock bed now, how do the rocks feel on your feet, can you feel them through the soles of the boots?

Finally the end result, boots that fitted perfectly and designed for my planned hiking adventures. These boots fitted like a glove, they never gave me blisters or any other problems and allowed me to hike with confidence in UK and overseas mountains.

In over 30 years of hiking I have bought plenty of boots from the same manufacturer and other manufacturers. Despite my experience I still get my feet measured and have a chat through my requirements with the shop assistant. It’s worth it as my feet size have changed twice over the years, they also know their boot range and how boots have changed over the years.

Reviews & Recommendations

Magazine and internet reviews are a helpful guide with regards to what boots are available on the market, what they are suitable for, composition, weight and quality. But remember that a “best in test” boot may not suit your foot shape or intended activity.

I would advise against asking for recommendations on social media, whilst respondents will always answer in good faith based on their own experience and foot shape that boot “x” are excellent those boots may not suit your feet or intended activity. Also the high number of responses identifying different boots will create a confused picture and potentially set an incorrect level of expectation if you go to an outdoors shop to be fitted for boots.

Personally I would never recommend a particular boot make or model as this is dependent on matching an individual’s foot size and shape to a boot last. However, I would offer advice on the suitability of a boot for certain activities. My recommendation will always start with :- go to a reputable outdoor shop for assessment and a fitting and let them guide you to the right type of boot.

Buying Online?

Most of us enjoy the convenience of shopping online so why not buy your boots online?

If you live miles away from a decent outdoor shop and you know what model/make suits you through previous fittings then it shouldn’t be a problem. However, I would make sure that it is a reputable site and they have a returns policy on the off chance that the boots don’t fit.

If these are your first pair of boots then I recommend avoid buying online and make the effort to go to a good outdoor shop and get boots professionally fitted. In addition if you are looking to change activities from summer walking to winter walking I would suggest that you go for a professional fitting as winter boots are very different to summer boots.

I would also encourage people to support their local shops where they can, many provide a great boot fitting service and will often price match or provide a discount. Some have an online presence that I would consider using before a faceless website.

Footwear Types

There are four gradings applied to hiking boots and shoes commonly found in outdoor shops, B0 through to B3, each are described below:

  • B0 – a flexible sole boot/shoe typically used over the summer months.
  • B1 – the first level of stiff sole boots, good for occasional winter walking when used with a C1 Crampon.
  • B2 – the second level of stiff sole boots, compatible with C1 and C2 Crampons. Good for winter days in the UK mountains as they can easily handle front pointing and kicking in steps.
  • B3 – the third level of stiff sole boots compatible with C1 to C3 Crampons, suitable for more advanced and technical winter days in the UK mountains including ice climbing.

For the majority of people a good quality B0 rated boot would be suitable for UK Hills and Mountains, these can be used all year round (up to the snow line) and will provide good support and protection.

In addition to the questions asked by the shop assistant here are some other considerations you need to think about when choosing your footwear:

  1. Upper material – choices include leather, cloth or synthetic – this is a personal choice along with colour and style! That said leather will offer more protection and will last longer when cared for properly, cloth and synthetic are often lighter but may not offer the same protection and longevity as leather.
  2. Waterproof lining – either Gore Tex, Event or manufacturers own make. All synthetic/cloth boots should have a waterproof lining to protect your feet from the UK weather. As leather provides better weather protection some boots come with waterproof linings for added security whilst others don’t. For leather I would say that a waterproof lining is optional and down to personal preference, some find a waterproof lining makes their feet too hot.
  3. Sole unit – Vibram is a common make used by manufacturers however some use their own design. Questions to ask yourself include is it stiff enough and does it have an appropriate lug pattern (tread) for your intended use? To test the boot stiffness try to bend the boot from front to back, the harder it is to bend the stiffer the boot.
  4. Protective rand – is a rubber strip around the boot just above the sole unit which provides additional protection to the boot, useful in steep rocky terrain and in snow.

Below are some typical hiking footwear available in UK shops, I have included their boot rating, pros/cons and my thoughts of suitable use and what to look for when purchasing.

Approach Shoes/Cross Trainers (B0)

Many makes and models available, with a mixture of cloth or suede uppers and some having a waterproof lining for added protection. Sole units can either be Vibram or own design and offer differing levels of grip on different surfaces depending on the intended purpose of the shoe.

Ideal for low level walks on good tracks that are not too wet or muddy.

Pros – light, flexible, comfortable from the box.

Cons – no ankle support, low cut will allow water mud/water to easily enter the shoe.

Low Level, Hill & Moorland Boots(B0)

The next level up from the approach shoe or cross trainer is a flexible lightweight boot. There are many makes and models that can be either cloth, synthetic or leather often with a waterproof lining. The sole units are either Vibram or own design and should provide an increased level of grip over an approach shoe.

Designed for use in hill and moorland environments where the boot can provide better foot protection on muddy wet ground and additional support on hills through the higher ankle cuff when compared to the approach shoe or cross trainer.

Pros – light flexible, comfortable from the box, improved support and weather protection.

Cons – Does not provide sufficient support or protection on very steep ground. Potential of feeling rocks and stone through the flexible sole. Lug pattern and sole stiffness not ideal for very steep ground.

Three Season Mountain Boot (B0)

The entry level mountain boot with many makes and models available and can be either cloth, synthetic or leather often with a waterproof lining. Some will have a rubber rand to provide additional protection from stones and scree.

Sole units are either Vibram or own design and should provide a good level of grip on very steep ground and a small amount of stiffness. Also look for a defined heel step on the sole as this helps grip when travelling down steep slopes.

Pros – Comfortable from the box, good level of ankle support and weather protection.

Cons – Heavier by design when compared to a lower level boot.

Three/Four Season Mountain Boot (B1)

Ideal for more adventurous UK mountains and summer alpine routes. Due to their increased stiffness they give more confidence on very steep slopes, scrambles and via ferrata. As they can be worn with a C1 crampon they can be used for occasional snow/glacier walking. There are many makes and models available and can be either cloth, synthetic or leather often with a waterproof lining. Most will have a rubber rand to provide additional protection from stones and scree.

The sole unit will normally be Vibram and should provide a good level of grip on very steep ground. The boot would be stiff enough so that it would be very difficult to bend. Like the Mountain B0 boot I would also look for a defined heel step on the sole as this helps grip when travelling down steep slopes.

Pros – Comfortable from the box, excellent level of ankle support and weather protection.

Cons – The stiffness may cause feet to become more tired. Not as warm as B2 or B3 boots so feet may become cold in winter conditions.

Four Season Mountain Boot (B2)

Ideal for winter mountain walking in the UK. They should have a very stiff sole and will accept a C2 crampon. There are many makes and models available, they can be either cloth, synthetic or leather often with a waterproof lining and all will have a rubber rand to provide additional protection when kicking snow steps.

The sole unit will normally be Vibram and should provide a good level of grip on snow and ice and have a rolling action to aid walking. The boot would be stiff enough so that it cannot be bent by hand.

Pros – Designed for winter mountaineering but can be used in other conditions due to the rolling action of the sole. Warmer than B1 boots with additional protection and stiffness.

Cons – May need to get accustomed to walking in them due to the stiffness, the addition of insoles like Superfeet may help to improve the walking action. Like the B1 boots the stiffness may cause feet to become more tired.

Winter Mountain Boot (B3)

Ideal for more adventurous winter mountain climbing in the UK and overseas. They should have a very stiff sole and should accept a C3 crampon. There are many makes and models available and can be either synthetic or leather often with a waterproof lining. All will have a rubber rand to provide additional protection when kicking snow steps.

The sole unit will normally be Vibram and should provide a good level of grip on snow and ice. The boot would be so stiff that it would be impossible to bend.

The boot will provide good ankle protection and support so that you can walk and climb on winter mountains with confidence and comfort.

Pros – Designed for tackling adventurous winter mountaineering climbing routes.

Cons – Most probably will need to get accustomed to walking in them due to the stiffness, the addition of insoles like Superfeet may help to improve the walking action.

Caring for your Waterproofs!

Probably the most important layer of clothing when hiking is the waterproof layer, it keeps you dry and comfortable when the weather turns against you. They normally perform really well when new but performance deteriorates as they get older. Hopefully this blog will explain why this is and what easy steps can be taken to breathe new life into your waterproofs and make them last longer!

How Do They Work?

Without getting into too much technical detail you can split waterproof clothing into two groups “shells” and “analogy”. They are both designed to keep you dry from the elements and regulate condensation/perspiration built up from within.

In the “shells” group the waterproof clothing will either have an internal coating (PU or similar) or a membrane/laminate (Gore Tex, Event, Pertex or similar) the function of this is to create a barrier in order to stop water getting in and to a degree allow moisture out.

In the “analogy” group we have Paramo clothing which is designed to mimic animal fur with the use of a “pump” liner which is designed to push moisture outwards to protect you from rain, condensation and perspiration.

To do their job effectively they both have one thing in common, a Durable Water Repellency (DWR) coating on the outside that makes water bead. This coating is the key for the waterproof clothing performance as it has a massive impact on the breathability.

DWR Killers!

As I said above DWR is the “beading” performance of the waterproof clothing, the better the beading the better the DWR performance. If clothing is no longer beading but becoming saturated with water the DWR coating has become less effective. There are two main causes that reduce the effectiveness of the DWR coating:

  1. Contamination from mud/dirt, detergent, smoke and alcohol
  2. Abrasion from wear and tear, abrasive surfaces and friction

It was interesting to see an experiment where a word written on a coat with a finger dipped in alcohol gel completely removed the DWR ability to bead water! Very apt during this COVID-19 time!

The good news, it is easy to reinvigorate the DWR and therefore restore the performance of your waterproof clothing!

Cleaning

First thing to do is clean your waterproof clothing following the instructions on the clothing label. Please note, one of the contaminates for DWR is detergent so there are specialised washing products like Nikwax and Grangers designed to clean without damaging the DWR coating. In addition if you are using a washing machine make sure that the detergent/conditioner drawers are clean of residue.

The obvious time to wash waterproof clothing is when it’s visibly dirty or if you notice it doesn’t bead as well as it should. More often than not washing waterproof clothing is all that is needed to reactivate the DWR.

I normally wash my waterproof coat and trousers together, closing all zips and fastenings. I wash my leg gaiters separately as they have aggressive velcro fastenings, which can damage the DWR on the coat and trousers through abrasion.

Reproofing

Reproofing clothes is no longer a chore with solutions like Nikwax Tx Direct Wash-In, simply apply through a wash cycle in your washing machine. Reproofer should be applied to clean clothes so best to do after a wash cycle.

I would normally reproof on every other wash cycle. Your clothing will tell you if reproofing is needed i.e. if it’s beading well but just a bit mucky a wash will do, if water is not beading and rain is soaking in then it will need reproofing.

Is Tumble dry or apply heat still a requirement?

Instructions used to say “apply heat” to reinvigorate the waterproof coating after washing/reproofing and people still do as a matter of habit – I for one still put my waterproof clothing through a tumble dryer!

This was due to the chemicals previously used in the DWR coating that needed heat to reinvigorate the performance. Modern DWR coatings no longer use these chemicals, therefore the requirement to tumble dry or apply heat is no longer required. In addition reproofing solutions like Nikwax TX Direct Wash-In do not require heat to activate.

My thoughts are to follow the clothing care instructions, if it states you can tumble dry and you have the ability to do so there is no harm in putting it through the tumble dryer!

Which Care Product is Best?

This is down to personal preference, however, first check the manufacturers care instructions as guarantees may be invalidated if the wrong product is used or performance may only be guaranteed with the use of certain products….

Personally, I tend to use Nikwax products as they are easy to use, perform well, environmentally friendly and I can buy 5 litre bottles of the stuff!

Amusing Myself During Lockdown!

Over the last 5 weeks or so like many I have been keeping myself busy doing all those promised DIY jobs, catching up on admin, writing a Quiz for Mountain Training Association, doing a presentation on Brecon and Snowdon Hikes that I provide for Curious Kats Adventures and also getting out to exercise the body and mind.

I am fortunate to live in a little village outside of Brecon, surrounded by a network of quiet country roads and an area of common land. For the majority of my exercise I have created routes of upto 6 km (4 miles) using these networks of roads, on the odd occasion I have done a 10 km (6 miles) loop onto the common.

I thought I would soon get bored of walking these less adventurous road circuits from my doors step being a hardened mountain walker…….but I haven’t for two reasons.

The first reason was simply mixing up the circuits as much as I can, adding sections, removing sections, combining different sections and reversing them. It’s amazing how a circuit can be easy in one direction and challenging in reverse!

The second reason and maybe the most important one is that I quickly realised how things were changing around me with the maturing of spring. Nature was coming alive, the hedgerow plants were changing on a daily basis as they came into season, butterflies and bees began to explore the hedgerows searching out nectar rich flowers, the sound of birds surrounded us and fields once empty came to life with sheep, lambs and cattle.

I was finding each circuit was taking longer and longer as I was looking at plants coming into flower and trying to identify them. As time went on the challenge was to find something that I hadn’t seen before, each time I went out I came back with a new observation, it really wasn’t that difficult but kept me entertained!

We may be starting to see the smallest chink of the light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel. However, we will most probably have to wait a little longer until we can get back out to explore the mountains, like most I can’t wait to get out there but until them I am happy observing the mountains from afar and watching how nature is developing around me!

COVID-19

Based on current UK and Welsh Government guidance I have suspended all my AirBnB/Eventbrite events and all Mountain Training Courses for the foreseeable future.

I will continually review the UK and Welsh Government advice and make available events and courses to book when the all clear has been given.

I have thought long and hard before making this decision which I believe is the only responsible action to take to help protect our community.

Regards,

Dorian, TrigPoint Adventures

Walking Poles

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“Should I have a pair of walking poles?” is one of the most popular questions I get asked.

My answer is always “yes they are a very important tool in the mountains when used correctly.”

Let’s bust a myth to start, using walking poles is not a sign of weakness or that you’re getting old!

So what is the point of walking poles and why they should they be used?

  • Provide stability on uneven and slippery ground
  • Help during stream crossing; give extra support on stepping stones
  • Provide additional power as you are walking up hills/mountains
  • Turn your walk into an all body workout
  • Aid in setting and keeping a constant  pace
  • Conserve energy
  • Reduce impact on your joints as you walk down the hills/mountain
  • Share the load when you’re carrying a large heavy backpack
  • Ward off over inquisitive farm animals
  • Check boggy areas

I could go on!

As with everything there are also a few disadvantages that I find, namely:

  • Your hands are full meaning you have to juggle. Things around when taking pictures, drinking, using map and compass.
  • Become less useful when ground becomes very steep and you need to use your hands to scramble.

So to summarise I always have a pair of walking poles with me when I head out into the hills or mountains. I’m either using them or have them strapped to my rucksack and therefore easy to retrieve when needed (Some rucksacks provides walking poles stowage systems).

In a future blog I will cover the types of walking poles available, the best way to use walking poles and provide hints and tips.

What to Wear in the Mountains?

WhatNotToWear

The picture to the right is a poster displayed in a carpark at the bottom of one of the many paths up Snowdon. The message and picture being simple but powerful.

The title of the Poster is “Plan Ahead” with the following text at the bottom “Half Wit – Around 20% of Mountain Rescue incidents on Snowdon are related to lower leg injuries – most of which could have been prevented by wearing walking boots.”

Hopefully you may have guessed the “Half Wit” is the character on the left, unfortunately a sight that is quite often witnessed on UK Mountains!

The questions I often get when planning to take a group into the mountains include:

  • “Can I wear my trainers they are really comfortable?”
  • “The forecast looks good can I leave behind my waterproofs?”
  • “Do I really need waterproof trousers?”
  • “The forecast for Llanberis says it’s going to be 20°C, do I need gloves, beanie and fleece top?”

To answer each question in turn…..

Boots vs trainers – As the poster says 20% of mountain rescue incidents are related to lower leg injuries, this would be significantly reduced if suitable walking boots were worn. The boot will provide ankle support, increased grip and stability greatly reducing slip, trip and fall injuries.

Waterproofs

Packing waterproofs – Forecasts provide a good indication on what you may expect whilst in the mountains but as we all know they are fallible, in addition mountain forecasts cover a vast area and does not allow for micro climates which are formed in the mountains. I have lost count of the great days I have had in the mountains in glorious sunshine whilst people not even 10 miles away from me have been rained on all day, the forecast was the same for both areas…..So yes you must always take waterproofs and both coats and trousers!

InsulationPacking insulation layers – When looking at the forecast temperature for Llanberis the temperature at the top of Snowdon will be approximately 10°C lower, if we add wind chill factor the “feels like” temperature may be further decreased. To remain comfortable especially during meal breaks and rest stops insulation layer(s) becomes essential to stop your body cooling down too quickly and keep you comfortable.

Boots advice

BootsI always recommend dedicated walking boots fitted by a reputable outdoor retailer, either leather or fabric with or without waterproof lining. The retailer should ask you a number of questions including what are the intended use of the boots, take several measurements of your feet, provide a number of makes of boots to try and get you to test them on an incline in the shop. The boot should provide good ankle support and have a good sole unit to provide adequate grip (Vibrum). The boots should be broken in and comfortable to the wearer. Lastly, boots considered not to be appropriate include Caterpillar, Timberland, Dr Martens or similar fashion boots.

Socks advice

Bridgedale, Therlos and Smart wool are the most common makes available; select the thickness/type most appropriate for you boots. Some people use a thin liner sock as well as a walking sock in order to avoid blisters, this is personal preference. Expect to pay approx £10 for a pair of socks!.  Socks are as important as the boot, a good walking sock can help to prevent blisters.

Wicking base layers

Cotton is the worst material to wear when walking; sweat will soak up in the cotton and will soon leave you wet, cold and uncomfortable. A wicking base layer tee-shirt is essential as this will move your sweat away from your body and dry quickly. (nb: cycling and running base layers are suitable)

Legwear

Jeans no! Dedicated walking trousers, tracksuit bottoms, Ron Hills etc are preferred. Jeans have no give or stretch and if they get wet will become heavy, cold and take a long time to dry. If the weather is fine shorts will suffice but be warned that temperatures can drop 1 degrees for every 100m this means that the temperature could be 10 degrees lower at the summit when compared to the base.

Waterproof Jackets and Trousers

Preferred option is a decent breathable jacket and trousers using Gortex, NikWax Analogy (Paramo) or manufacturers own breathable membrane etc. Avoid non-breathable waterproofs these will leave you sweaty inside and uncomfortable.

Budget vs Premium Makes

A day out in the mountain shouldn’t break the bank, there are multiple options out there to suit all budgets. As a guide expect to pay the same for a pair of boots and a waterproof coat, these are the two main items that will take up your budget, the next most expensive item will be waterproof trousers, as a guide aim for 50% cheaper than the jacket.  Other items like base layers trousers, fleece tops etc can be picked up at a relatively low price. As you become more experienced and items wear out you can look to refine your kit as and when required. My top tips to kit yourself for the mountains on a budget are:

  • Budget shops and kit can provide quality kit at a fraction of the cost
  • The sale rail can be your friend
  • Become a BMC member many shops offer discounts which will soon cover the membership fee
  • Wear what works for you and not what is recommended by magazines or others we are all different and what may suit one person may not suit you
  • Get to love bright colours and wearing clothes that clash, these are the garments that usually end up on the sale rail at an excellent discounted rate as the fashion victims don’t go for them – the colour does not usually affect performance so their loss is our gain!
  • Similar to the above learn to love last years colours and don’t be a fashion victim!
  • Cheap gaiters can protect your trousers and boots
  • If you find kit that suits you try to buy them when they are on sale, if your old ones are still good and you have the cash buy them and store them until they are needed

Duke of Edinburgh

It has been a busy season supporting the Duke of Edinburgh Award helping young people achieve their goals but an equally rewarding experience. Through my years in supporting DofE I have taken on many roles including but not limited to:

  • Theory navigation training
  • Practical navigation training
  • Practical camp craft training
  • Expedition support
  • Expedition assessment
  • Theory and practical navigation training to support staff

The above is provided to all levels of DofE from Bronze through to Gold for various schools, organisations or Approved Activity Providers on the walking expedition section.

It is a no brainer to support DofE when you get to truly understand what it is about and what the young people can get from it. For example during the expeditions I have encountered a number of firsts including but not limited to:

  • Away from home
  • Camping
  • Navigating using map and compass
  • Cooking on a trangia (often first time cooking!)
  • Walking a considerable distance
  • Leaving their electronic devices behind
  • Fending for themselves

The young people can come to us with a “no can do” attitude, this is why we spend time training at the start of their award level to equip them with the skills, knowledge and confidence to become self sufficient and have a “can do” attitude for their assessment. This is normally provided through training events and practice expeditions. These days can be hard and long days which is usually rewarded during the assessment when they complete without any issues.

I share the sense of achievement with the young persons at the end of the assessment weekend not just by them navigating to their destination, camping for a number of nights, cooking their meals  working as a team or completing their aim under their own steam but for gaining real life skills which will stay with them for a long long time.

First Aid

You are out in the Black Mountains enjoying a day out with friends, you have just bagged the last peak of the day and heading back to civilisation and the pub on a high to toast your achievements of the day. You are 4km away from your car and your friend slips and falls landing awkwardly on his arm – it’s obvious it is broken and he is in a great deal of pain what do you do next……….

Unfortunately things can go wrong, normally when you least expect it to. Being prepared and having the skills to deal with these things, especially a medical emergency, when it happens is vitally important to me and Trigpoint Adventures. This is why I like to make sure that my skills in treating medical emergencies are regularly updated through attending a two day dedicated outdoor first aid course.

During the course we cover  everything we can expect to encounter in the mountains including but not limited to:

  • Unresponsive casualty
  • Heart conditions
  • Breaks and sprains
  • Hypothermia and Hyperthermia
  • Bites and stings
  • Shock
  • Bleeding (internal and external)
  • CPR
  • Defibrillator use
  • Allergies
  • Drowning
  • Spinal injury
  • Crush injury
  • Breathing conditions

The course is split between theory and practicals including scenarios in order to put us through our paces. The scenarios in particular are really powerful tools to put into practice what we have covered.

The scenarios usually start with the casualty being given a brief in private on their condition, how it happened and how they should act. The first aider is then given a brief on the situation, like where you are, if you have phone signal and what you may or may not have seen.

The role play then begins, there is no ready, steady, go in real life! The casualty acts out their condition as briefed and the first aider has to treat the systems as seen. If you have a casualty who has no issues in play acting (which they normally don’t have an issue with) you get quickly sucked into thinking this is a real life scenario and you are fully concentrating in doing what you believe is right in preserving or stabilising the life of the casualty.

People may think that these scenarios can be stressful but I normally find that something triggers inside and you focus completely on the casualty in order to determine what has happened or what is wrong and to start the right course of action in a calm and collective manner. Somewhat similar to real life and therefore provides excellent practice and preparation.

As I am a Mountain Leader, I am required to be current with this qualification, however, I believe this is a vital skill for people heading up in the mountains with their family and friends and would encourage people who enjoy the great outdoors to attend a similar course.

Hill & Mountain Skills Training

It is always a pleasure to pass on knowledge or skills that I have learnt over the years. Personally, I have done this for years in various situations, but the feeling I get once people understand and use what I teach them is one of the best I will ever experience.

This weekend I was doing just this whilst out in the Brecon Beacons running one of my Hill Skills Courses. The course is developed by Mountain Training to provide personal skills to individuals so that they can go out and enjoy the great outdoors safely.

My course usual starts with a quick introduction from each attendee, during this I want to understand their experience and what they really want to get out of the course. Whilst the course syllabus never changes this enables me to deliver bespoke training to meet the individuals needs.

The course syllabus:

  • Planning
  • Walking Skills
  • Clothing and Equipment
  • Weather
  • Navigation in the Hills
  • Environmental Knowledge
  • Hazards and Emergency Procedures in the Hills

70, 20, 10 rule of learning states that 70% of learning comes from practice or experience, 20% comes from coaching or mentoring and 10% from formal lessons this is what I replicate during my training sessions. Minimise the time in the classroom, get out into the hills and get them to practice for themselves. On this basis the training starts with a theory session before heading out into the proper classroom, the hills and mountains of the Brecon Beacons!

The training is structured to increment the skills gradually through a short coaching session before allowing the individuals to try for themselves using a number of  different methodologies as the situation dictates.

The result that lasts forever is when I ask an individual to lead a leg to a specific point on the map, they work out how far it is, how long to get there or how many paces and how they know that they are there. They then execute that leg without error and arrive at their destination, usually met by a grin and a nod of approval by me!

If you are interested in attending one of my skills courses check out my training course page where you can find further details.

 

 

 

The Start of a New Journey……

My manager once asked me how I stay so calm and relaxed considering the work stresses that were constantly thrown at me – “I use Mountain Therapy!” was my response. The next thing I know I am taking my companies Leadership Team into the mountains for a “team building session”, something must have worked as I was asked to run more!

My love for the mountains is renowned amongst my family & friends, it is only natural that they would join me on some of my adventures, but leading the company Leadership Team was a completely different experience and I loved every minute of it – this was the true start of my Mountain Leader journey.

So after years of dreaming, months of hard work, and a level of self investment TrigPoint Adventures has eventually been created!

The aim of TrigPoint Adventures is to share my passion for the great outdoors to all ages by guiding or providing training. I want people to experience the benefits of the great outdoors and gain the confidence to get their own mountain therapy!

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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