Torches & Batteries

Torches & Batteries

Having a torch is one thing, but always make sure that the batteries have enough power.

Torches & Batteries 

Torches & Batteries...

I grew up with stories of ‘always be prepared’ which led in the earliest days of my mountaineering to me carrying a large rucksack with all sorts of equipment that would allow me to survive a crisis on the hill. I mean did I really need a sleeping bag, tent and stove for a day walk! This concept of self sufficiency has never left me but doesn’t mean I have always got the balance right! In the last ten years, alpinism has taught me that light is right but this hasn’t meant I leave the essentials behind. A few things have certainly helped with this education. Firstly from bitter experience I know just what is the minimum required. Secondly equipment has seen some radical improvements and lightweight options are now available and thirdly seeing the results of several mountain rescues from the rescuers perspective has let me understand the consequences.  I have 3 short tales which illustrate these points. 

In 2005 a friend and decided that after work at an outdoor centre in North Wales we would go to Tremadog and climb Christmas Curry on Mid Summers Eve. Despite the fact we didn’t leave work until 8pm we were convinced we would have enough light and if not we would take head torches so it would be fine. One pitch from the top as the dusk faded to leave pitch darkness it turned out that we had both been relying on the other to bring a torch! An hour and half later we had managed to blunder our way down the descent path through the woods and back to the car in totally blackness.

Last spring I skied with a friend up to the Leschaux hut below the north face of the Grand Jorasses in the French Alps.  Having arrived at the winter room in the late afternoon we planned to climb and descend the Shroud in quite a tight timeframe the next day. The theory was we would go to bed early and start at midnight. Just before going to bed I discovered that my head torch had flat batteries and both my spares and the batteries in my avalanche transceiver were the wrong size! Luckily I also had a Petzl elite tucked away in my sack. This allowed us continue and although we didn’t end up climbing the route we completed the approach and I skied back down to Chamonix with just this little spare.

Over the last 5 years I have attended a fair few rescue shouts where the party is ‘crag fast’ or has gone to ground simply because they have no lights or navigational aids to allow them to safely descend. Instead the team has to climb up to deliver lights and route finding back to the car park.

In summary even if you bare down your equipment; take the essentials, torch (plus batteries!), map and compass, a warm layer and a small first aid kit to try and be self sufficient.

About Simon
Simon is an avid mountaineer and skier. He lives most of the year in North Wales but winters in the Alps and Scotland. When in Wales he is an active member of Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team

His personal interest is in progressively technical alpinism and ski mountaineering and he has recently return from a trip to the Nepalese Himalaya.

He holds the Mountaineering Instructors Award and Winter Mountain Leader and has started on the training process to becoming an International Mountain Leader. He works as a freelance outdoor instructor in several Outdoor Education Centres and runs the small mountaineering business of OranjeBergsport specialising in navigation, scrambling, climbing and ML refresher courses.