The Canterbury University Tramping Club comprises of members with a whole range of different experience levels and fitness. Tramping is inherently risky and we’ve assessed these risks to help shape the clubs Code of Practice, a guide that everyone can follow.
Trips are lead by club members (volunteers), not guides, so ultimately we are all responsible for our own safety, and for looking out for our mates. A key part of this is picking trips that are within our abilities and carrying the appropriate gear.
CUTC supports safe tramping by:
- Committee members monitor a BASE Intentions Form. Members hiring PLBs and leading trips should leave their intentions with the club. The safety officer will contact the police (search and rescue) if a trip is overdue. If friends or family are concerned about the state of a trip then they can contact or alert the safety officer, who holds a copy of the intentions – including participant/membership details.
- We have assessed common hazards faced in the back-country and have developed a set of Code of Practice that all members should try to follow. This helps guide leaders and participants as to their responsibilities so nothing is missed:
Safety Policy and Code of Practice
- Beginner and instruction trips. From time to time the committee will lead beginner trips to give members a chance to up skill in a safe slow paced environment. There are also a few resources below from third parties that may get you thinking and be of some help.
If you’re ever unsure about something, please come and talk to a committee member. They typically have good experience (or know of someone that does) and can help advise on all parts of the tramping process from leading trips and route selection through to what to bring for a first trip.
Outdoor Safety Code
The Mountain Safety Council has come up with five key rules you need to follow to have a safe trip:
- Plan Your Trip: Think about the route you’re going to be taking, how long it will take, and whether your abilities are up to the challenge.
- Tell Someone Your Plans: Tell someone where you’re going so they can raise the alert if you’re overdue. Most of our outdoors does not have cellphone reception, so you should also take a personal locator beacon (PLB), which can call in a helicopter for serious danger. You can hire one from the club for free, and also leave your intentions with us.
- Be Aware Of The Weather: New Zealand’s weather can change in an instant, so you need to make sure you check the forecast before you leave.
- Know Your Limits: Make sure your abilities are suited to the trip you’re going on!
- Take Sufficient Supplies: Make sure you have enough food, equipment and emergency rations for the worst-case scenario.
Read more about the Outdoor Safety Code, or have a look at the video below.
A more general guide to tramping can be found here.
“Rivers are a significant hazard in the New Zealand outdoors, and you’ll come across one on most tramping trips. Rivers are affected by the weather and snow melt, and can rise and fall very quickly. If you’re not experienced in river crossings or identifying unsafe rivers, then avoid crossing rivers by selecting tracks that use bridges and always be prepared to change your plans to avoid crossing a river.”
Read more in the Safety In The Mountain’s page on river safety.
One of the major things to be aware of when tramping in winter and spring are avalanches. Even if you are not tramping in the snow, avalanches which start higher up in the mountains can sweep all the way down to the valley floor.
Read more on Mountain Safety Council’s website on avalanches and take the online course (introductory only – proper training and heading out with some more experienced is essential).
What if things go wrong?
When things go wrong, use the STAR Model for making Decisions:
- STOP: Take a breath, sit down and remain calm
- THINK: Look around you, listen, brainstorm ideas
- ASSESS: Evaluate the options and their potential consequences
- RESPOND: Take the best alternative.
Remember: water, shelter, warmth and the will to survive are the essential elements to your survival.
If in doubt – stay put. Your trip planning will help you deal with the situation and your trip intentions will initiate help if you are over due.
In case urgent rescue is needed, contact the police who can start a search and rescue operation. You can do this with a personal locator beacon (PLB), phone 111 (although cellphone coverage in the New Zealand outdoors is very limited), a DOC hut radio, or send some people within your party to go for help (at least in groups of two).