The Mountain Skills (MS) programme has two important functions within the structure of Mountain Training in Ireland.
- To provide the theoretical and practical knowledge in basic navigation and hillwalking skills required to become a self-sufficient hillwalker within the upland regions of Ireland. The programme is divided into the MS1 and the MS2.
- To provide an assessment (Mountain Skills Assessment MSA) of basic navigation and hillwalking skills for those who wish to progress to Mountain Leader awards. Successful completion of which is a prerequisite for registration on the Mountain Leader scheme.
- Temperature, precipitation, wind, lightning, humidity and snow.
- Reference to causes of mountain hypothermia.
- Steepness, ruggedness, special emphasis on remoteness.
- Reference to falls and drownings in hillwalking situations.
- Ability with reference to terrain and conditions.
- Health and fitness.
- Poor/lack of equipment.
- Poor route choice.
- Access and land ownership.
- Introduction to the mountain environment.
- Introduction to the Leave No Trace programme.
- Map scales/symbols/conventional signs.
- Ordnance Survey maps/history, reliability, suitability, comparison of different scales.
- Terminology /features (e.g. corries, spurs, ridges, aretes etc.)
- Relief depiction including contours, crags.
- Orienteering maps.
- Grid references.
- Methods of calculating distance travelled and height climbed (Naismith’s Rule).
- Methods of measuring distances on ground (timing, pacing).
- Simple navigational techniques (aiming off, handrails, attack points etc.).
- Methods of location, cardinal points (solar, astral). • Feature recognition (distant and near), self-location.
- Navigating across country using map alone.
- Theory of navigational tools including Silva-type compass, altimeters, and GPS.
- Map setting by compass: following bearing, backbearing and simple resection.
- Navigating across country using both map and compass.
- Slope aspect.
- Re-location techniques.
- Route planning (choice of route, route card, bad weather alternatives, escape routes).
- Guidebooks and sources of information.
- Equipment for hillwalking with reference to weight, bulk, and cost.
- Comparison and contrast of: footwear, outer clothing, headgear, gloves, middle layer garments, base layers.
- Bivouac bags and Bivouac tents.
- Rucksacks, torches, care of maps, whistle and other emergency signalling devices.
- First aid kits.
- Additional equipment for winter conditions.
- Procedure in event of an accident.
- Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mountain hypothermia, sprains, blisters, fatigue, and other typical ailments.
- Mountain rescue organisation in Ireland, including location of posts and teams.
- Call-out procedures.