Here comes the sun: how to make the most of the hills this spring

Posted by Hanna Lindon on 16/03/2015
Ben Nevis: just one of the summits you could tick off this spring. Photo: lightpoet/ Shutterstock.

It’s been a cracking winter, but we’re starting to dream about longer days, warmer wild camps and lightweight multi-day adventures. Here’s how to make sure that spring doesn’t take you unawares.

March certainly came in like a lion – so if you believe the old wives’ tale then we’re set for a run of balmy weather before the month is out. We’ve got the lowdown on how to make this spring your best one yet.

Start a bucket list…

What do you really want to achieve this year? Maybe it’s a particular summit tick - a big name like Ben Nevis, Helvellyn or Tryfan. Perhaps you’re keen to push your scrambling grade, learn how to handle a rope or just get out at least once per month.

Whatever your goals, though, you have a far better chance of achieving them if you put pen to paper. A 2007 study conducted by the Dominican University of California concluded that people who wrote down their objectives were more likely to succeed than those who simply daydreamed about them. If you gave up using pens in the ‘90s then there are sites out there such as www.bucketlist.net that let you list your goals and track your progress online. Or get the new Berghaus Adventure List app.

….and then post it on social media

You might feel like a bit of a noddy posting your aims for the year on Facebook, but research shows that sharing goals with friends is even more effective than writing them down. Why not Tweet us @Team_BMC or @BMC_Walk with your plans, or connect with us on Pinterest or Instagram?  Who knows – you might even find a fellow hill-enthusiast to complete your bucket list with. If you’re short of mates who share your passion then joining a mountaineering club could be the answer. Find your local club on our interactive map

Spring clean your kit

Your gear has been mouldering away under the bed all winter, so now is the time to give it a shake out and check that everything is still in working order. Rid your down of that musky smell by washing it with down-specific detergent and tumble drying it on the lowest setting – ideally adding two or three tennis balls to the drier to stop clumping.

Wash and re-proof jackets and waterproof trousers, check inflatable sleeping mats for punctures, make sure your tent still has all its pegs and poles, and give your walking boots a once-over with re-proofing treatment as well. Water bottles and cooking gear will usually benefit from a quick scrub, and first aid kits should be replenished. Spring sale season is the perfect time to replace any lost or damaged kit.     

Remember you can get a BMC member's discount when buying new kit at over 800 outdoor shops and online retailers.
 

Pump some iron

If you’ve spent the winter hibernating in front of the TV then your muscles are probably in need of a wake-up call. The best way to get hill fit is to head out there and bag some summits, but if your nearest mountains are still slumbering under a layer of snow then there are other free and easy ways to work up a sweat.

Why not start a running programme, incorporating some gentle hills into your training as soon as you can manage it? Resistance exercises – particularly squats, forward lunges and bench step-ups – are another top way of building up those jelly-legs. Try donning a full pack and squeezing ten minutes of step-ups or stair climbing into your lunch hour.

YouTube is an absolute godsend for anybody who wants to get fit but doesn’t fancy flaunting a sweaty face in public. The BeFIT channel has countless exercise videos, focusing on everything from yoga to hardcore cardio, and just a few minutes of hard work per day will add up to a far more enjoyable experience when you do finally hit the hills. 
 

Go back to school

A hill walking course could be the kick-start you need to get out and about in the mountains more this spring. The BMC has teamed up with Plas y Brenin to offer a great selection of subsidised training courses, including a two-day ‘Scrambling Essentials’ experience and a ‘Head for the Hills’ course aimed at keen beginners. If you fancy making the step into climbing outdoors then check out our Rock Out skills courses taking place in various locations across the country.  

All the courses fall under our 'Active Outdoors' banner - a range of subsidised courses offering essential skills for an outdoor life. Check out the full range offered here.

Give your favourite mountain a makeover

When the snow melts on popular hills, it often reveals a layer of junk that has accumulated over the winter months. Luckily, there are groups of dedicated volunteers who gather every spring to rid our mountains of crisp packets, Coke bottles and other human-related detritus. Get outdoors and help a good cause at the same time by joining one of these mammoth seasonal litter-picking parties. Some of the biggest annual clean-up operations take place on Cairn Gorm, Snowdon and Ben Nevis, but check national park calendars for information on dates and times. It’s guaranteed to be the most fun you’ll ever have spring-cleaning.

WARNING: Right now many hills are still covered in snow. The tips in this article are intended for later in the spring, when the last of the snow has cleared. Remember that winter can still grip the hills even when the valleys are warm, and watch out for late-season snow patches. 

WATCH: Rope Work for Scramblers: Introduction on BMC TV:


 

WATCH: Rope Work for Scramblers: Part One on BMC TV

 

WATCH: How to check you rope for damage on BMC TV

 

WATCH: adventurer Will Gadd in the short film 'MOVE' on BMC TV


 

 WATCH: Hill Walking Essentials DVD trailer:


 

WATCH: How to use walking poles on BMC TV:



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