Traits of a good trip leader
Essential reading: Mountain Safety Manual - Bushcraft available from most bookshops. Chief Guide generally has a copy of this manual as well.
If you are asked to lead a club trip then you are considered to have the necessary experience, skills, judgement and common sense. Your ultimate goal is to return your group safely from the hills. Anything you are not sure about should be discussed with the chief guide.
All group leaders for a trip should be at the meeting on the Tuesday prior to the trip to collect group names and numbers and any party gear needed.
BEFORE THE TRIP:
- Make contact with your group as soon as possible. Do not assume people know what is what - spell it out.
- Check communication options: e.g. PLB, mountain radio (prearranged from bivouac for longer trips), consider cell phone coverage (unreliable!)
- Trip details - where you are going and what maps to bring.
- Transport arrangements - when and where the trip leaves and when it is expected to return.
- Contact number - ensure group members have the contact number and that they leave this, along with trip details, with a reliable person. Make sure that you inform all group members that this is the number to contact in case of emergency - NOT the police.
- Personal gear requirements - the usual gear plus any extra gear that may be required. Spell out all gear requirements fully unless you are absolutely sure that the person is well equipped and experienced.
- Personal food requirements - tell your group exactly how much food they are expected to bring and ask if they have any food preferences. Sort tea out so each group member is carrying approximately equal weight of tea ingredients. It is much better to have too much food than not enough.
The trip leader is responsible for organising and distributing party gear and food; things like tent fly, primus, billy and first aid kit. The group leader must have maps of the area and compass, as well as the knowledge of how to use them. It is not always necessary for you to have been to the area, but chief guide will ensure that if you are inexperienced in the area that your trip is easy to navigate.
Encourage questions from your group about aspects of the trip. Be aware of any medical problems in your group. If you consider one of your group not fit enough for your trip then tell the chief guide.
Study your route carefully and consult experienced people within the club who have knowledge of the particular area. Make note of possible escape routes. Don’t be afraid to tell the Chief Guide if you are unsure of the route and if it is possible to go over it.
Just before the trip leaves:
- Check that the people have left the contact number
- Check that no one has forgotten any important gear.
DURING THE TRIP:
- Carry a note of the contact number, the names and phone numbers of your group members and the membership card for SAR contacts. Give all of your group members this information and try to make sure they carry it.
- Leave farm gates as you found them.
- Keep your group together - it is easy to become separated in thick bush, at night or with large groups. There is strength in numbers so stay together.
- Communicate, be sensitive and aware of other people’s problems - blisters, tiredness or whatever. Recognise the potential seriousness of seemingly mild problems.
- Fill in the hut books - put in date, who you are, where you are going, the weather conditions and any other information of value (don't forget the sheep).
- In the event of an accident:
- Take charge
- Prevent further accidents - secure the safety of everyone
- Plan further action
- Be flexible - don’t push your group to get somewhere just because it is in the schedule. Never let your judgement be clouded by your ambition. Allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
- And of course.... Remember to have fun !!!
After the trip:
- Ensure the contact person knows you are out of the hills.
- Return clean gear to the gear custodian as soon as you can and report any damage.
- Start working on a trip report for Heels.
Remember, all club trips must have the prior approval of the Chief Guide.