Briefing (Talk – 20 mins)
To outline the course and assess students' progress.
• Analysis of students’ hillwalking activity since MS1.
• Introduce programme, instructors, etc.
Emergency Procedures – Part 1. Mountain Hypothermia (Talk – 30 mins)
To create an awareness of the concept of mountain hypothermia. A brief outline of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of same.
• Causes – environmental, individual.
• Signs and symptoms.
• Treatment – early, ongoing.
• Also discuss other common ailments: sprains, blisters, fatigue, etc.
Introduction to Compass, (Talk/Practical 1 hour)
To introduce the use of the compass in hillwalking navigation
• Compass points – cardinal points, 360 degree system.
• North – true, grid, magnetic.
• The concept of a bearing.
• Measuring bearings from a map by estimation, protractor.
• Theory of a Silva-type compass; taking bearings from a map.
• Grid and magnetic bearings.
• Walking on a bearing – short exercises.
Hill Walk (5 hours)
To develop map-reading skills, the concept of timing, and to practice the compass theory introduced earlier. Map and compass to be used in conjunction as much as possible.
• General map-reading, setting map by features.
• Setting map by compass.
• Timing calculations.
• Taking bearings from map.
• Walking on bearings.
• Feature recognition – close, distant
• Navigational techniques - attack points, aiming off, simple resection (i.e. party located somewhere on a definite linear feature. Bearing taken to a clearly identifiable point roughly at right angles. Intersection of plotted bearing and linear feature gives rough position).
Route Planning (Talk – 1 hour)
To explore and illustrate the principles of route planning from maps.
• The selection of walking routes from the map – in good/poor weather.
• Difficulties associated with steep ground, forestry, rivers, etc.
• Bad weather alternatives, escape routes.
• Use of route card.
• Various designs of route card.
• Preparation of route card – run through example.
• Use of guidebooks in route planning.
Night Navigation/Poor Weather Exercise (2/3 hours)
To practice navigation technique (particularly compass skills) in conditions of poor visibility.
• Discuss the reasons for, and actions taken, when caught out after dark.
• Short, simple navigation problems should be set, requiring a combination of tactics and compass work to solve. Clearly identifiable points, both on the map and ground should be chosen for navigation legs.
• Safety must be paramount and a strict time limit adhered to, to avoid disenchantment.
Emergency Procedures – Part 2. Mountain Rescue (Talk – 30 mins)
To outline procedures in the case of a mountain accident.
• Brief history of mountain rescue in Ireland, Mountain Rescue Ireland (formerly IMRA).
• Location of mountain rescue teams in Ireland.
• Accident procedure.
• Plan of action – risk to others, nature of injuries, weather, time available, party, equipment, terrain, location, and distance. Options – evacuation, sending for help.
• Call-out procedure.
• Role of the Air Rescue Helicopter, SARDA.
Steep/Broken Ground: Practical
To explore more rugged terrain, perhaps not normally encountered by hillwalkers, and develop an awareness in the student of his/her own abilities and limitations so that they remain at all times within full control of the situation on steep or broken ground.
• Safe movement in ascent and descent.
• Movement skills and technique.
• Route finding, maps etc.
• Movement of group.
• Hazards, problems of loose rock and other objective dangers.
• Environmental considerations, particularly damage to vegetation.
Note on MS Steep/Broken Ground
While it may be difficult to definitively classify suitable steep ground for the MS course, it should only include ground where the use of the rope would not be contemplated. Many aspects of this part of the syllabus can be taught through outdoor discussions presented around a number of styles and degrees of steep/broken ground. Although it can be beneficially important to progress clients on to a range of more serious terrain in order to demonstrate judgement, this should be always kept within the perceived ability of the group. As areas of steep ground provide a refuge for flora and fauna, special care is required regarding choice of venue and minimising environmental impact.
Debrief, Assessment Briefing (Talk - 45 mins)
To answer queries, get feedback and to give an outline of the format of the MSA.
• Course comments – students, instructor.
• Requirements for those intending to do the MSA.
• Issue logbook.
• Sample paper.
• Advice on further training needs.