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The route

Your route may have been very carefully planned. You may even have walked the same way before without any problems. But things can happen that mean you should seriously reconsider continuing on the route as planned.

One of the big variables is the weather. What can be a simple day out on a calm day can turn into something quite different when there's a storm. As well as keeping an eye on how the party is doing in difficult conditions, aspects of the route can change dramatically.

A good example is river crossings. In a downpour rivers and streams can swell quite quickly. What was before a simple hop across some rocks can suddenly necessitate wading through water that is knee-high or deeper. This needs to be considered with very great care. Swift running water is very powerful and can knock someone down with surprising ease.

When faced with a difficult river crossing that involves swift water and even the remotest possibility of being knocked over, the best course of action is almost always to re-route. This can be a hard decision to make, as it often involves retracing one's steps, perhaps all the way home.

scrambling groupSimilar considerations can occur when the weather suddenly brings snow, a very strong wind or low visibility. As with monitoring your party the route should be kept under constant review. Even the fact that the planned route is simply taking longer than originally thought should cause one to stop and think.

It is in these circumstances that having pre-planned escape routes, possibly even programmed into a GPS, becomes very useful. It is much easier to switch onto a new route having thought about it in advance.

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