Safety & Equipment

Safety Policy

This is designed to show the various safety procedures incorporated into the planning and execution of a club trip. This policy will be made available to all members to make them more aware of the Club's position and responsibility regarding safety.

  1. Destinations for trips are chosen appropriate to the time of year (both academic and calendar). In winter locations will be chosen to give options of easier walks which the conditions may necessitate.
  2. When advertising trips, details are given about the nature of the area, terrain, likely walks, equipment/experience that would be advisable. Those lacking items of equipment or with questions concerning the nature of the walking should contact a committee member (particularly the safety officer or president)
  3. Group size will vary in relation to the difficulty of the intended route. The members suggesting a route will decide on a suitable group size.
  4. The committee will check that each route is suitable for the group size and experience, taking into account the current weather conditions. The committee can delegate this to a more experienced member if necessary.
  5. The committee will ensure that there are enough suitable walks available on each trip, especially for less experienced and/or new members.
  6. Route cards for each walk must be filled in properly and left with the committee. On return the committee should be notified if everyone is back safely or otherwise. Route cards include route, estimated time and distance, escape route, details of equipment carried.
  7. The first named person on the route card is not responsible for any member on their route. They are responsible for ensuring the route card is filled out appropriately and that the appropriate equipment is carried by the group.
  8. Each member is responsible for his/her own actions and decisions while on the hill. This includes navigation, route choice, turning back, and all other decisions made while on the hill.
  9. No member is responsible for any other member, regardless of experience.
  10. Routes are altered, changed, or abandoned according to changing conditions on the day - inclement weather, fatigue or injury.
  11. Members that have little or no navigational skills are encouraged to acquire some on walks; there is ample opportunity for this to take place.
  12. Each group must be carrying equipment in case of emergency (survival bags, group shelters, torches, first aid kits). The club has a few of the above items to lend out. The committee reserves the right to refuse people with inadequate equipment or experience to undertake walks.
  13. It is the responsibility of the individual to inspect any equipment borrowed from the club, and to ensure they have adequate knowledge in respect of its use. Any problems or issues should be reported immediately to a member of the committee.

This document is complemented by Mountain Guidelines and Emergency Procedures (External link to MCofS website), which give basic advice to members.

In summary, it is a question of common sense over taking safety precautions at each stage, to ensure that trips suit the experience of the members and the prevailing conditions at the time, and that they have adequate equipment. The club role is one of advisor, but not instructor.

Sarah Hammond (revised by Dave Farrow 2010)

Club Kit Available for Members to Borrow

If you’re worried that your kit doesn’t match up to what you’ll need for Club Trips, below is a list of kit available to borrow (see the Kit List).

All items are subject to availability – their need for Club Trips takes precedence over individual requests for borrowing kit. Members are responsible for checking the condition of any kit borrowed, and informing the Safety Officer of any defects found.

Please contact the Safety Officer to request kit.

  • Emergency Shelters
  • Survival Bags
  • Head Torches with batteries
  • Compasses
  • 1st Aid Kits *
  • Waterproof Jackets
  • Waterproof Trousers
  • Gaiters
  • Ice Axes **
  • Pairs of Crampons **
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Helmets
  • Maps ***
  • Guide Books ***
  • Medium-sized Rucksacks
  • Roll Mats
  • Fleeces

* 1st Aid Kits are crucial to members’ safety – it is imperative that you notify the Safety Officer if you use anything from the kits, or items are missing or out of date, so they can be replaced accordingly.

** Anyone using technical winter walking equipment takes full responsibility over the risks associated with their use. You are expected to read and understand the Club’s policy on borrowing ice axes and crampons and how to use them safely.

You must consult the committee over any doubt around these matters, and inform them if defects are found with the equipment.

*** See the Club Library.

Safety Officers

Club Library

Here is a list of all of the books and maps that the club owns. If you wish to borrow any of the items listed below, please contact the Safety Officer.

Guide Books

Lake District

  • A Companion To Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide To The Lakeland Fells - Joan Newsome
  • Scrambles In The Lake District (Volume 1: Southern Lakes) - Brian Evans
  • Scrambles In The Lake District (Volume 2: Northern Lakes) - Brian Evans
  • Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains – Alfred Wainwright
  • Wainwright In The Valleys Of Lakeland - Alfred Wainwright
  • The Roof of England - A H Griffin
  • Inside the Real Lakeland - A H Griffin
  • Pageant of Lakeland - A H Griffin
  • Winter Climbs In The Lake District - Bob Bennett, Bill Birkett & Brian Davison

The Pennines

  • Discovering The Pennines - Van Greaves
  • Pennine Way - Damian Hall
  • Pennine Way Companion - Alfred Wainwright
  • Wainwright On The Pennine Way - Alfred Wainwright


  • The Munro Almanac - Cameron McNeish
  • Wainwright In Scotland - Alfred Wainwright


  • Classic Walks In Wales - Steve Ashton
  • The Welsh Learner's Dictionary - Heini Gruffudd
  • Scrambles In Snowdonia - Steve Ashton

Yorkshire Dales

  • Peaks Of The Yorkshire Dales - John Gillham & Phil Iddon


  • Britain’s Highest Peaks - Jeremy Ashcroft
  • England - The Rough Guides
  • Guide To The National Trails Of Britain & Ireland - Paddy Dillon
  • Hillwalking - Steve Long
  • More Relative Hills Of Britain - Mark Jackson
  • The Edge - Cameron McNeish & Richard Else
  • The Night Climbers Of Cambridge - Whipplesnaith
  • The Underground Atlas - John Middleton & Tony Waltham
  • Untrodden Ways - Nick Channer
  • Valais Alps East - Les Swindin & Peter Fleming
  • The Endless Knot - Kurt Diemberger
  • Long Days in the Hills - A H Griffin
  • The Search for Mallory & Irvine - Peter Firstbrook
  • Everest - Al Burgess & Jim Palmer
  • Field Guide to Wilderness Medicine
  • Everest - Reinhold Messner
  • Discover Maps with Ordnance Survey - Patricia & Steve Harrison
  • How To Solve Cryptic Crosswords
  • Hungry Hillwalker
  • Walks on the Howgill Fells - Alfred Wainwright
  • Wainwright’s Coast To Coast Walk - Alfred Wainwright

BMC Publications

  • ‘Safety On Mountains’ VHS
  • 'Safety On Mountains' Book
  • ‘Climbing Outside’ Booklet
  • ‘Abseiling: Get It Right’ Booklet
  • ‘Crampons & Ice Axes’ Booklet
  • ‘Care & Maintenance’ Booklet
  • The First Fifty Years Of The British Mountaineering Council - Geoff Milburn
  • ‘The Green Guide To The Uplands’ Booklet


Maps marked “OL” are Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps, and have lots of detail – best for remote, unfamiliar areas with few obvious natural features, where detailed navigation is necessary. Maps marked “LR” are Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 maps; these contain less detail – smaller, less significant paths are omitted where they might be included in OL maps. These are better for longer treks covering large distances over multiple days, where OL maps would be impractical. BMC maps are 1:40,000, so are not as detailed as OL’s, but more so than LR’s. BMC maps are specifically tailored to cover areas of interest for hillwalking and mountaineering (where you might have a really annoying city plonked in the middle of your Ordnance Survey Map), so you won’t need an awkwardly wide range of different maps to cover the area you want. They also include a lot of extra information relevant to hillwalkers (such as colour coding for elevation and terrain), but less of the irrelevant stuff! Finally, they are also printed on plastic, making them lightweight, durable and waterproof.

North West

  • 7x OL4 Lakes NW
  • 7x OL5 Lakes NE
  • 11x OL6 Lakes SW
  • 13x OL7 Lakes SE
  • 12x BMC Lakes
  • 1x OL303
  • 1x OS Touring Map 3 - Lake District
  • 2x LR90
  • 2x LR91
  • 1x LR96
  • 7x OL19
  • 1x OL41


  • 5x OL2 YD W&S
  • 4x OL30 YD North
  • 5x BMC Yorkshire Dales
  • 1x LR98
  • 3x LR110
  • 2x OL26
  • 2x OL27
  • 3x BMC NYM

North East

  • 3x OL16
  • 8x OL31
  • 1x OL42
  • 1x OL43
  • 3x LR80

Peak District

  • 3x White Peak - OL24
  • 10x Dark Peak - OL1

Southern Uplands

  • 1x LR72
  • 4x LR78
  • 4x LR79

Scottish Highlands

  • 1x LR33
  • 1x LR41
  • 1x OL414
  • 1x BMC Cairngorm
  • 1x BMC Knoydart
  • 3x BMC Ben Nevis

Dartmoor & Exmoor

  • 2x OL9
  • 6x OL28

North Wales

  • 10x OL17
  • 4x OL18
  • 8x OL23
  • 1x LR115
  • 2x BMC Snowdonia
  • 1x BMC Snowdonia South

Central Wales & Brecon Beacons

  • 6x OL12
  • 7x OL13
  • 2x LR160
  • 3x LR135
  • 2x OL213
  • 1x OL214
  • 5x OL216


  • 3x OL45
  • 4x OL123
  • 2x OL181
  • 2x OL190
  • 5x OL217
  • 1x LR132
  • 1x LR133
  • 1x LR167

Borrowing Club Ice Axes and Crampons

A Friendly Guide

Author: Dave Farrow, May 2011

Ice axes and crampons require knowledge for both care and use. Please take care of the club equipment as if it were your own, as it is expensive and we let you use it for free. Firstly, give it a good look over to see if anything looks broken or damaged. If you damage or lose something, please let the committee know ASAP. They only bite if you don’t tell them.


Crampons and ice axes are metal, and they get used in water (in the form of snow). This means they rust very quickly. Make sure after every walk (even if you didn’t use them) that you get them out and dry them out fully.

If they have got dirty, please rinse them in water before drying, as dirt can speed up rusting.

Ice Axes

Ask someone to show you what length will be best, and how to store it on your rucksack. Watch out for spiking people in the eye while walking around. To dry, take them off your rucksack and leave somewhere dry, where they won’t hurt anyone.


Before using, make sure you have adequate boots (ask someone if you're unsure), and get someone to help fit the crampons to your boot. Some club crampons have two bars - use the correct one and don’t lose the other one. Practise putting the crampons on and off, with gloves on.

To dry, take them out the protecting bag, dry the bag and both crampons. Shake off the snow and water (outside the bunkhouse), then leave in a safe dry place to ensure no moisture is left anywhere on the crampons.

At the end of the trip, try to dry them out as much as possible before handing them back to the Safety Officer (but please don’t take them home).


There are many members that are able to help you out - just ask someone that looks experienced. Below are some basic techniques that you should know the first time you go out. Remember the club does not provide instruction or leading and you are still responsible for your own actions.

Ice Axes

Used basically as a walking stick to give extra support, but there are tips and tricks to make sure you don’t fall too far if you are that unlucky. Ask someone to demonstrate and try for yourself:

  • How to hold an axe & its normal use
  • Self belaying & self arrest


Just walk like John Wayne. The biggest problem is tripping over yourself - make sure you practise before getting somewhere too scary. Ask someone to demonstrate and try for yourself:

  • Walking along the flat (snow and ice)
  • Walking on sloping snow (up, down, traverse)

If you plan to regularly use axe and crampons, get someone (an experienced member or instructor) to go through winter skills in more detail. Getting your own equipment is recommended as it frees up club equipment for others.

Kit Lists

Personal on the hill:

  • Walking boots (waterproof), with warm socks
  • Waterproof coat
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Suitable walking clothes – synthetic is best; no jeans
  • Spare fleece
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Water bottle (at least 1 litre )
  • Headtorch with spare batteries
  • Rucksack with waterproof liner (e.g. sturdy bin liner)
  • Sufficient food for lunch and snacks
  • Emergency food

In addition in winter take:

  • Sunglasses and Suncream
  • Extra warm layers (thermals)
  • Spare gloves
  • Gaiters
  • Ice Axe / Crampons (if you don’t know how to use these, ask a committee member, or plan your walks to avoid using them)

The following items may be useful if you have them.

  • Map (and map case)
  • Compass
  • Gaiters
  • Sunglasses and Suncream
  • First Aid Kit
  • Whistle
  • Survival Bag
  • Thermos flask for hot drink
  • Goggles (in winter)

Each group should also carry between them:

  • Group shelter (large enough for everyone)
  • Group first aid kit
  • 2 maps (at least)
  • 2 compasses (at least)

For the bunkhouse:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Food for breakfasts / lunches
  • Toiletries
  • Dry clothes

Getting kit:

The Club has plenty of kit available for members to borrow, with a (slight out of date) list here. If you need to buy kit, Cambridge has a good supply of outdoors shops, including Open Air (an independent shop on Green St.), Cotswold Outdoor (a big chain with a large range on Bridge St.), Mountain Warehouse (good discount kit, under Cotswold), Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports and The North Face (both in Lion Yard) and Go Outdoors (beyond the Grafton Centre). The Club has a 15% discount at Cotswold, and the BMC membership has various associated discounts. Most experienced club members will be glad to help if you'd like advice.
Dave Farrow

Mountain Guidelines

Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end. Edward Whymper, "Scrambles amongst the Alps"

Although the possibility of accident when on the hills can never be totally eradicated, it can be reduced. Equally, in the event of an incident, the chances of survival can be improved if everyone is suitably equipped. These safety guidelines set out a basic, mandatory framework within which Club members can operate. It is hoped that many of you are familiar with their content; we do not mean to patronise or discourage anyone.

It must be stressed that it is the responsibility of the individual to ensure they follow these guidelines. Any person inadequately equipped endangers not only themselves, but also their companions, and so cannot expect the club to allow them to participate on walks.

Whatever the weather conditions, wherever you are, you should observe the following guidelines.

  1. Carry everything in a rucksack, the contents of which are in a tough, waterproof plastic bag, with room over the top to make a seal. About 25 to 35 litres is adequate for a daysack.
  2. Carry or wear several layers of clothing, including a hat and gloves. Synthetic clothes are best – jogging trousers, fleeces etc.
    • Cotton garments are not advisable, especially next to the skin, as they are not warm when wet.
    • Jeans especially should not be worn; they are uncomfortable and very cold when wet.
  3. It is essential to carry or wear a hooded, waterproof jacket, and waterproof trousers even in good conditions.
  4. Wear a supportive walking boot with a decent tread. Waterproof boots are recommended (either leather, or lined fabric). Boots not intended for hillwalking are unsuitable.
  5. Take plenty of carbohydrate (bread) and energy rich food (chocolate).
    • Emergency rations should also be carried and only eaten in an emergency.
    • Plenty of liquid should be carried - water is good and refreshing in summer. In wintry conditions, a flask of hot drink (soup/coffee/tea) is welcome.
  6. Carry a map and compass and know how to use them.
    • Basic navigation skills are not difficult to pick up; ask a committee member or experienced club member if you wish to acquire some.
  7. Carry a simple first aid kit containing plasters, bandage, tape, safety pins, painkillers, nail scissors/penknife. Also paper and pencil for recording details of an injury. Personal medical details could also be useful e.g. allergies.
  8. Wear a watch. Especially in winter, be aware what time it gets dark and plan your route accordingly.
  9. Carry a torch (with spare batteries).
  10. Each group should have at least one whistle, group shelter and group first aid kit.
  11. Leave note of your intended route, including escape route. Do not feel obliged to follow this religiously if it entails unnecessary discomfort or danger. It is important to know when to turn back.
  12. If at any time, you fell unwell or unhappy, let the others in the group know and take appropriate action. To continue under such circumstances, endangers yourself and the party.
  13. Winter hillwalking involves more potential danger. The basic summer equipment is required, as well as more serious equipment and clothing e.g. a thermal base layer, gaiters, balaclava.
    • An ice axe and crampons should be carried and used if conditions require it - an ice axe is no good strapped to a rucksack when there is snow on the ground. The walker should know how to use both.
    • Most club trips do not require this, although given the period covered by the academic year, everyone should be aware of the dangers.

If you have any queries on the above, please contact a member of the committee for further advice. These guidelines are not intended to alarm anyone, but to safeguard club members in the event of the worst happening. By sticking to the above, the likelihood of this is very much reduced. An adequately equipped person will find their hillwalking far more enjoyable.

This document is a designed to be read along with the Safety Policy and Emergency Procedures.

Sarah Hammond (revised by Dave Farrow 2010)