When heading out onto the mountain, or anywhere beyond urban bounds, having some safety basics in your head and your planning will never go amis. Adventurer Ryno Griesel shares his top 5 safety tips.
Ryno Griesel is one of South Africa’s most accomplished mountain athletes. In 2021 he circumnavigated Lesotho with Ryan Sandes and also holds joint FKT’s with Sandes on the Drakensberg Grand Traverse as well as a part of the Grand Himalayan Trail. In addition he is the current FKT holder of the South African 9 Peaks challenge – whereby you have to climb the tallest peak in each province.
This year he and fellow trail runner (and ex-pro cyclist Jock Green) plan to climb the highest peak in each province and then cycle to the next peak. While you might not be planning anything this crazy, we asked Ryno to outline some of his basic mountain safety tips that can be used by anyone.
Always learn some basic navigation skills.
If you’re going to be using a GPS or a navigation app on your phone practice beforehand and make sure you’re aware of the limitations of the device or app (such as cell phone coverage), but I would strongly suggest also learning some basic map reading skills and then to always take a printed map with you as a backup if the GPS fails.
Always let people know
Tell someone where you are going, how long you’ll be out for and your ETA. Ideally take a live tracker that ideally has off-the-grid satellite communication ability, if you need to call for help, but also if you have a live tracker then people can follow you.
Always take waterproof gear
I wouldn’t go into the mountains without a waterproof shell and rain protection. I would take a jacket, head protection and waterproof gloves, regardless of what the weather forecast says – from my experience mountains have their own weather systems and are highly unpredictable. Put this jacket on before you are completely wet, or else it is useless.
Know who to call
Never go anywhere without a cellphone and make sure you have the local mountain rescue. There are places where you will obviously not have signal but you can often climb to a higher peak to get coverage. This obviously works best if you’re in a team of two. In terms of Mountain Rescue, always complete the register so that when people are looking for you, they know who they are looking for and have all your details, including what kit you are wearing etc.
Take an emergency bivvie
Take a space blanket or bivouac bag. These do come in super handy if you do get stuck, we can all keep warm when we are moving, but if you, for instance injure an ankle or break a leg and can’t move a bivvie will keep you warm and also aids in visibility for a search and rescue team.
Remember that things can go wrong close to home and being prepared for that situation by letting someone know where you are going, knowing who to call, and having the right gear will never be regretted! Stay safe and enjoy the outdoors!