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Safety Policy

This page shows the current DURC Operating Guidelines and Safety Policy as approved at the AGM in 2009.

    Introduction

    Mountaineering is a RISK activity. Summer or winter hill walking, scrambling, rock or ice climbing all involve a danger of personal injury and even death.

    The UIAA Participation Statement:
    "Climbing, hill walking and mountaineering are all activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement."

    Club members have a personal responsibility to ensure that they are appropriately prepared and competent to participate in club activities, both in terms of their experience, their equipment provision, their ability to use this equipment, and their general health and fitness.

    Equipment

    Before participating in a club meet, it is suggested that members have the following equipment as a minimum:

    • Walking boots with ankle support and a suitable sole with adequate traction. DM's etc. are not acceptable.
    • Rucksack
    • Windproof and waterproof over garments
    • Map and compass
    • Whistle
    • Torch (preferably a head torch)
    • Hat and gloves, and spare gloves
    • Spare warm clothing
    • Food, including emergency rations
    • Adequate fluid - preferably in a refillable container
    • Survival bag
    • First aid kit

    In view of the much more demanding conditions met in winter (snow & ice conditions), the following items as a minimum are regarded as essential (in addition to the above):

    • Ice axe(s)
    • Crampons
    • Gaiters

    In summer it is advisable to carry a sunhat, sunscreen, and sunglasses (which are also useful in winter when the light can be particularly bright). Additional fluid should also be carried.

    All members are strongly advised to be proficient in the use of a map and compass.

    Meeting Procedure

    Every meet will be arranged by a meet organiser who shall be the Meets Secretary, committee member, or their designated appointee. The person arranging the meet will be responsible for arranging accommodation and transport. That person shall have no responsibility for the safety of persons attending the meet.

    A meet is any activity organised by the club or consented to by any two committee members and using support of any kind from the sports union. The decision of whether a meet goes ahead lies with the Club President, after consultation with the Meets secretary. If a meet is cancelled for any reason, any member who chooses to make their own way to the hills does so without the support of the Rucksack Club.

    No person will be eligible to attend a DURC meet without:
    Having paid the club membership fee (set annually by the committee) and matriculated.
    Having read and understood the safety guidelines and signed the acknowledgement form to indicate this.

    Members must complete the meet list (in the meets book), giving a contact name and telephone number. Details of route out and back (and if possible, alternative routes) may be given, together with an estimated time of arrival.

    Prior to departing on a walk/climb the meet organiser will check that the equipment outlined in 2.1 above is being carried. If, in the opinion of the meet organiser, a member does not have a safe level of equipment, that member may be prevented from participating in the meet.

    When travelling to and from meets, the driver is in charge and his/her decisions are final and must be adhered to.

    When travelling to and from meets, heavy and sharp objects (e.g. ice axes) must always be stored under the seats in the minibus, never left loose or tied to rucksacks.

    The pace of any walk/climb should be reasonable for the slowest member of the party. No one should become detached from the group and everyone should be aware individually of the procedures to be followed in the case of an accident.

    At present the University court does not permit members of DURC to go solo walking/climbing on official club trips. Contravention of this dictum may incur disciplinary action from the Sports Union. DURC acknowledges this restriction but considers this an infringement of the ethos of Scottish mountaineering.

    Suitable first aid provision must be available. Members are advised to carry their own first aid kits tailored to their knowledge of first aid and the possible situations encountered. This should be individually checked to ensure it is complete BEFORE the meet.

    General

    Be prepared; always check weather forecasts and in winter also check the snow conditions and the avalanche forecast. Mountain weather and avalanche information can be found via links on the website. Always let fellow group members know your experience, fitness levels, and any illness or disability (treated in strictest confidence). Don't just tag along - get involved with navigation and route decisions as that is the way to get experience, and experience is the key to safe and enjoyable mountaineering. You are responsible for your own safety in the hills.

    DURC Summer and Winter Climbing Guidelines

    Climbing is a hazardous sport. Some modes of climbing are more dangerous than others but there is an inherent risk involved in all forms of climbing - that's part of the challenge and enjoyment!

    There is no clear boundary between scrambling and climbing but where the possibility of a fall is not negligible and the consequences would involve injury or death it is recommended that standard safety procedures (e.g. belaying) should be followed.

    The dangers of climbing can be reduced but never completely eliminated by the use of protective equipment (ropes, harness, helmet, belays etc.). This equipment is only effective if used properly. Remember that your life and the lives of the people you climb with depend on you knowing how to use this equipment.

    DURC recommends that anyone planning to start rock or ice climbing should go on a professional course to learn the basic use of ropes and other climbing equipment, techniques and terminology.

    In any one climbing team at least one person should have considerable previous similar experience of the type of climbing planned. If you go climbing with someone make sure your partner knows what he/she's doing. Your climbing partner is not responsible for your safety; you must individually make a risk assessment.

    Equipment:

    Your life depends on your climbing equipment. Make sure that you know the history of all equipment being used, particularly ropes. Buying second hand protective gear is not an effective strategy for staying alive.

    Make sure that the equipment is properly maintained - cleaned, lubricated, kept in the dark, free from contamination. All climbing kit comes with manufacturer's instructions on maintenance and life span.

    Use a helmet conforming to UIAA standards when climbing.

    Completely destroy ALL equipment which is no longer safe.

    Don't wait until it is too late before you use the equipment you are carrying, for example:

    You may not have started climbing but a rock kicked from above can still kill - put on your helmet as soon as you reach the crag.

    When winter climbing, put on the harness and crampons before you need them. It is very difficult to put either on when standing on a steep slippery slope.

    Route selection:
    When selecting a route you should consider:

    • Your (and your partners) climbing abilities and experiences. Work your way up the grades steadily.
    • Time available for the climb.
    • Weather forecast
    • Conditions
    • Your equipment

    Weather conditions:

    For ice; as for winter walking but remember there may be no quick route off. You must also consider the weather, the snow/ice conditions and the avalanche hazard.

    Make sure that you have the necessary equipment for the route you are planning. The protection you require will vary depending on the route. Too much equipment will add extra weight, too little may leave you unprotected.

    Before going climbing you should be familiar with basic climbing techniques such as belaying (there are several methods available),and abseiling (you may need to abseil off a climb and must know how to do this safely, this includes safety measures such as a prussic/shunt backup, ground brakeman, and belaying). You must be familiar with the climbing terminology, particularly the "climbing calls". An interesting book on the subject is "The handbook of climbing" by Alan Fyffe and Iain Peter (BMC) as an excellent reference text. Remember, climbing is not an activity you can learn from a book. Climbing proficiently requires experience which can only be gained by going out and practicing.

    The Committee would like to thank Peter Clinch, Mike Baslington, Pete Williams and Paul McPate for their help in formulating these guidelines (January 1998).

    Procedure in the event of a serious accident or fatality

    If an accident occurs, any member or the meet organiser must immediately inform the appropriate emergency service (if not already done so) and ensure that the casualty is accompanied to hospital (either by him/herself or by a similar responsible person) whilst ensuring that the safety of the remaining group members is not compromised. The rest of the group should return to Dundee as soon as is reasonably practicable.

    The meet organiser must inform the Sports Union President as soon as possible, either at the Sports Union office (Tel: 01382 386048) or directly at home. The President will then inform the Director of Physical Education who, in conjunction with the University Secretary will, if it is deemed appropriate, prepare an official statement after consultation with the meet organiser. No statement whatsoever relating to the circumstances of the accident should be made to any other person or the press.

    In the event of an accident, on return to the university, an accident report form, obtainable from the SU office or Sports Centre reception must be completed and handed into the Physical Education Department office.
    A comprehensive report on the circumstances surrounding the accident should be sent to the Sports Union President. It should contain the following information; names, ages and addresses of those involved, site and time of the incident, weather conditions, equipment in use, clothing worn, physical condition of those involved, nature of injuries, action taken, suspected cause of the accident, eventual outcome (if known).

    The above safety policy and guidelines of practice were approved by the DURC committee and Sports Union President before being formally passed by the membership of Dundee University Rucksack Club at the 2009 Annual General Meeting.