Mountains and hills can be dangerous places and should always be taken seriously. However, a few simple precautions can make all the difference to your chances of survival or rescue should the worst happen.
You must know your limitations. Please realise that you are starting from sea level and that everything is steep and that’s why it looks so near. On Skye, you are often walking on rock, scree, and debris from 150m (500 ft) onwards.
Although the Cuillin are unique in that they contain one of the roughest rock known, gabbro, a lot of the Cuillin contains basalt in varying degrees. The basalt when moist, even with dew is very slippery. The terrain in each corrie changes and if you are not already adept at picking out the changes in rock structure, you soon will be! Stray off the normal trade routes and you are into fragile rocks, which are not always to be trusted. This has caused many accidents in the past.
Skye MRT is a rescue team and is not responsible for mountain safety, training, or advice. However, it’s very important to prepare yourself for any activity on the hills and mountains of the island.
Before commencing a climb or walk in the mountains, you/your group should ensure that you are sufficiently trained and equipped for your planned activity. Equipment should include:
- Suitable clothing and footwear – clothing should be warm, windproof and waterproof, footwear should support your ankles and be waterproof and you should carry spare clothing including hats and gloves even in summer.
- A map and compass – these should always be carried and you should be familiar with basic map/compass navigation skills.
- A mobile phone – please don’t rely solely on this for navigation and have backup power.
- A GPS device – this should be used in combination with map and compass and not relied upon alone for navigation. Please do not rely on smart phones as they can easily run out of charge or have no signal.
- A whistle
- Helmet – if mountaineering or going to dangerous locations where there may be rockfalls.
- First Aid Kit – a basic first aid kit is vital
- Crampons and ice axe – if climbing in winter
If you are inexperienced or wish to improve upon your skills and knowledge you may consider joining a walking or mountaineering club or organisation, taking a training course or employing a qualified guide or instructor.
Winter hillwalking and mountaineering carries an increased risk and requires specific skill, knowledge and equipment. Avalanche risk awareness, avoidance and rescue techniques are essential skills for all winter walkers and climbers. Avalanche forecasts provide useful information, however you must continually observe snow and weather conditions for any potential avalanche hazard. Always be prepared to change your plans accordingly.
Safety advice and training links can be found below:
Please read the guidance in full and remember to:
- Be prepared: Some car parks, toilets and other facilities may remain closed
- Be safe: Plan ahead and stay well within your limits – whatever your activity – to avoid the need for rescue and emergency services
- Be considerate: Think about how your actions might impact on others and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code at all times.
- Be COVID aware: Keep physical distancing and hand/cough hygiene in mind at all times, and avoid sharing food, drink or equipment with others.
The weather in Skye can change very quickly and a lot of people are caught out because they are inadequately prepared when it does.
Check the weather forecast before you go (links included below). Always be prepared to change your plans accordingly.
Notify someone regarding your plans
It is good practice to leave a route map and intended time of return with a friend or someone else so that if something unexpected happens, those looking for you will know where to start searching.
What to do in an emergency
- Decide if your situation can be dealt with by your group. It can take several hours for a rescue team to reach you, depending on the location and weather. The best plan may be to continue descending, if safe to do so.
- If you do require assistance dial 999 and ask for POLICE, then MOUNTAIN RESCUE.
Do not expect a rescue to be immediate and do not expect a helicopter. Weather conditions and other factors can prevent use of a helicopter and it may take several hours for the rescue team to reach you on foot.
The emergency services will ask for the following information when you call.
- Your name and contact mobile number
- The nature of the problem or injury
- Location including grid reference / name of climb
- Name, age, and medical history of casualty / casualties
- The weather conditions where you are
A team leader from Skye MRT will normally attempt to call you back to gain further details that may be required, or to update you on the progress of a rescue.