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Training and Assessments, Snowdonia
10th 18:00 - 12th November 2017 22:00

What constitutes hill walking?

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On the face of it this question has a fairly obvious answer. However, it not quite as simple as it seems. For instance, what is the difference between hill walking and mountaineering?

There is a big difference between simply walking on well defined paths and scrambling up rocky ridges, between doing so in summer and winter conditions or being close to civilisation and remote from it. The way the Scout association defines these different hill or mountain terrains and activities is set-out below...


Categories of mountainous terrain

Terrain 0 Definition (Rule 9.28)

Terrain 0 describes terrain which meets one of the following criteria:

a. Meets all the following criteria:

  • is below 500 metres above sea level; and
  • is within 30 minutes travelling time from a road which can take an ordinary road-going ambulance or a building which is occupied (such as a farm) or another means of summoning help (such as a telephone box); and
  • contains no element of steep ground (routes or areas where the average person would need to use their hands at least for balance if not for actual progress. This does not stop people from using their hands as an aid to confidence.)

or:

b. Is a road, or path adjacent to a road, on which you would expect to see traffic.


Terrain 1 Definition (Rule 9.29)

Terrain 1 describes terrain which meets all of the following criteria:

a. Meets any of the following criteria:

  • is below 800 metres but more than 500 metres above sea level or;
  • is more than 30 minutes but less than three hours travelling time from a road which can take an ordinary road-going ambulance or a building which is occupied (such as a farm) or another means of calling help (such as a telephone box).

And

b. Contains no element of steep ground (routes or areas where the average person would need to use their hands at least for balance if not for actual progress. This does not stop people from using their hands as an aid to confidence.)

And

c. Is not a road, or path adjacent to a road, on which you would expect to see traffic.

And

d. Is not Terrain 2 as defined by Rule 9.30.


Terrain 2 Definition (Rule 9.30)

Terrain 2 describes terrain which meets all of the following criteria:

a. Meets any of the following criteria:

  • is over 800 metres above sea level or;
  • lies more than three hours travelling time from a road which can take an ordinary road-going ambulance or a building which is occupied (such as a farm) or another means of calling help (such as a telephone box), or:
  • contains an element of steep ground (routes or areas where the average person would need to use their hands at least for balance if not for actual progress. This does not stop people from using their hands as an aid to confidence.)

And

b. Is not a road, or path adjacent to a road.


Specialist Terrain (Rule 9.31)

When in terrain or using skills that have not been assessed for a Terrain 2 Hillwalking or a climbing permit (such as glaciers, scrambling, via ferrata ), then specific approval is required for the activity from the responsible Commissioner based on advice from someone with knowledge and experience of the activity. Specific approval is in addition to the holding of a Terrain 2 hillwalking or climbing permit.

Such specialist terrain could be considered to be mountaineering terrain rather than hill walking terrain.


Summer and winter conditions

The description of summer or winter does not refer to the weather conditions. It refers to the underfoot conditions.

Summer conditions refers to any terrain where underfoot conditions are not considered to be in winter condition.

Winter conditions refers to any terrain where underfoot conditions are snow and ice (and therefor may require the use of specialist winter equipment such as crampons and ice axes).

Winter conditions could be considered to be mountaineering conditions rather than hill walking conditions.

The process and terrain definitions for winter permits are exactly the same as for summer permits. However, winter conditions are a much more serious undertaking and as such are assessed separately from summer. By default it requires much more experience and therefore takes a lot longer to obtain a winter permit. You are usually expected to hold a summer permit before being allowed to apply for a winter permit.


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