The British Mountaineering Council has recently updated its guidelines for belaying and abesiling. You can view the leaflet as a pdf by clicking here.
The online magazine ‘Grough’ has reported that the Ramblers Association are campaigning for ambulance control centres to train their staff to take grid references from walkers in need of assistance.
If you require emergency assistance on the hills you should phone 999, ask for the police and then tell them you require mountain rescue. Requesting an ambulance will result in a longer delay as a vehicle will be sent to the road head before establishing if further help is necessary. Sometimes it may be possible for an air ambulance to be dispatched.
To take a grid reference, first look at the top left hand corner of your map to find two letters such as NY. Then follow the numbers along the bottom of the map and then the numbers up the side to find the box you are in. This ‘four-figure’ grid reference will put you in a box that is 1 kilometre square. Using a romer, it is then possible to work out a ‘six figure’ grid reference which will put you in a 100m square box. GPS devices will display a ‘ten figure’ grid reference which can offer the greatest accuracy. The Ordnance Survey has produced a helpful leaflet called map reading made easy which explains grid references in more detail.
I am constantly reassessing what I carry on my rack, striving to find a balance between carrying as little as possible (saving weight)and having enough kit with me to protect the climb and cope with solving any problems that may occur. Recently a number of lightweight screwgate karabiners (krab for short)have come onto the market that weigh up to half of what their predecessors do. That doesn’t mean I can now carry twice as many but it does certainly mean I am not weighed down when leading the next pitch.
clockwise from bottom left; Petzl Attache 3D, DMM Sentinel, DMM Phantom, DMM Shadow.
I have just got the Petzl Attache 3D (55g) to use with my belay plate following several recommendations from others. Although only weighing 55g it still features a wide radius to allow smooth rope handling. The DMM sentinel (55g)is great as a second/spare HMS krab for tying into the belay. It also works well with a belay plate or an italian hitch if required. One of the lightest screwgate krabs available is the DMM phantom (40g). It’s great for attaching my ATC-Guide to the belay if I’m using it as a magic plate, or for clipping an autoblock prussik to my harness when abseiling as a back up. The DMM Shadow (50g) is another versatile krab that is a nice shape for handling and I regularly use for attaching myself to the belay.
If I was going ultra-lightweight I would carry just two HMS-style krabs for the belay. One for my attachment and one for the belay plate. For most days cragging I find that four screwgate will cover most eventualities. You can always use two snapgate krabs clipped in opposition for more security (see below). When I’m working I tend to carry six screwgate krabs, although I usually get the clients to carry the extra ones!