The Mountain Skills (MS) programme has two important functions within the structure of Mountain Training in Ireland.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.



Climatic hazards

  • Temperature, precipitation, wind, lightning, humidity and snow.
  • Reference to causes of mountain hypothermia.

Topographic hazards

  • Steepness, ruggedness, special emphasis on remoteness.
  • Reference to falls and drownings in hillwalking situations.
  • Ability with reference to terrain and conditions.

Human hazards

  • Health and fitness.
  • Poor/lack of equipment.
  • Poor route choice.

Mountain Environment

  • 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.

Contact us now to find out more or make a booking.