The mountains of Snowdonia are an enjoyable place for walking, however to enjoy them safely takes care whilst out as well as some planning before hand.
Whether you are walking alone or walking with a group you should always carry some basic equipment. I recommend that you take the following (most equipment can be bought from any good outdoor shop)
- Map and compass (and know how to use them)
- A waterproof coat and over-trousers
- Warm clothes (several thin layers is better than one thick layer)
- Packed lunch (remember small bits during the day is better than a lot at once)
- Water, and possibly a hot drink
- Survival bag (for use in an emergency)
- Whistle (the international distress signal is 6 blasts repeated each minute. The reply is 3 blasts)
- A torch with spare battery and bulb (particularly if attempting a long walk in winter)
- Wooly hat and gloves (especially in winter)
- Hat, suncream and sunglasses (in summer)
- Small first aid kit
- Ice axe and crampons (in winter)
As far as trousers are concerned, jeans should be avoided, since these loose insulating properties when wet, and will quickly ruin the day.
Boots should be worn when walking in the hills, since these will give ankle protection. There is a wide range available on the market ranging from leather boots to fabric boots and gore-tex waterproof fabric boots. A pair of light-weight fabric boots is best for walking in the Summer and Autumn, however the flexibility of these boots does not allow a crampon to be attached and thus limits winter activities. A good pair of boots can be bought for £70, however if you plan to do a large amount of walking it may be worth while investing in a more expensive pair. It is worth wearing a boot in before using it on the hill to minimize the risk of blisters.
Waterproofs again vary incredibly in price. A cheap one will not be breathable, but if you do not plan to do a lot of walking it will be quite adequate. If you intent to go out more often then it is likely to be worth investing in a more expensive one. These will usually be breathable but will cost over £120.
If you intend to do any serious winter walking further equipment will be needed. This may include an ice-axe and crampons. Again outdoor shops should be able to advise on these.
Finally it is important to realise that the above list is from my experience, and you may want to adapt it to suit yourself.
It is important to plan a walk before hand. This will ensure that you have the most enjoyable day possible. It is important not to underestimate the difficulty of a walk - do a short walk the first time, and build up to the longer walks.
Make sure that you leave a copy of your route with a friend, and that they know when to expect you back and that they should call the police if you are more than 2 hours overdue. Please make sure that you let your contact know when you return or if you are delayed so that mountain rescue are not called out un-necessarily.
The weather in the mountains if fickle. It can change very rapidly, and be the make or break factor in a day. I have started walks in heavy rain, and finished them in bright sunshine, and vice-versa. Just because there is cloud at the start of the day does not mean that it will be a poor day - you may get above it. Alternatively just because the start of the day is sunny does not mean that you won't need a waterproof.
There are several sources of information on the weather. There are links to a number of these on the links page of this site. The mountain forecast is also posted at Plas-y-Brenin, Cotswold in Betws y Coed and at the Pen y Pass car park. It is recommended to get a forecast before going out.
In the event of an accident, if head or spinal injuries are suspected do not move the casualty except to maintain breathing or to protect yourself or them from further injury. If they are not breathing clear the airway. If they are still not breathing summon help immediately (dial 999 or use the international distress signal which is 6 blasts on a whistle or 6 flashes of a torch every minute) and commence CPR. If injuries are minor, and the casualty can reach the road then they can be taken to the accident and emergency department of a hospital. Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor is the nearest hospital to most areas covered in this site.
If the casualty cannot reach the road, or spinal / other significant injuries are suspected: Contact the police on 999 and give them the location and nature of the incident. They will then co-ordinate the callout of appropriate rescue services (for the walks detailed here this will be one of the local mountain rescue teams). In case of helicopter evacuation, be aware that communication will become difficult and stones may be dislodged by the downdraft from the rotors. All loose equipment should be secured. Do NOT throw anything (e.g. a rope) to the helicopter, simply identify yourself as the casualty party by holding your arms in a Y shape above your head.