Mountaineering

Sun protection guidelines for those participating, spectating, or working in sport or outdoor recreation. The following specific tips and advice have been developed with the help of the Mountain Training England.

Mountaineering

  1. The higher you go, the stronger the impact of UV radiation, even in the UK. Apply a broad-spectrum product with an SPF of 30 or higher, paying special attention to areas on your head that are prone to burning.
  2. Using a sunscreen applicator, or cleaning palms with a small towel with alcohol gel, is a good way to avoid a greasy grip whilst climbing or using walking poles.
  3. Once applied to the skin, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or more often if you are prone to excessive sweating.
  4. The sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm depending on the season and your location. If possible, try to avoid being in direct sunlight within these hours.
  5. Sunglasses are critical as your eyes are vulnerable to UV radiation, especially on snowy terrains and high altitudes. If they aren’t UV protected, sun radiation can still cause sun damage to the cornea of the eye. Wear sunglasses throughout the year, as even on sunny days there can also be snow cover and a lot of reflected light.
  6. Helmets provide protection against bumps, falls and rockfall when climbing. They also ensure that the vulnerable areas (your forehead, scalp) are protected from harmful sun radiation. Whilst hiking up the terrain, a hat with a wide brim is ideal for also protecting your neck.
  7. Helmets will leave your ears exposed, so remember to keep your ears protected with sunscreen.
  8. Make sure to keep hydrated by always keeping a bottle or bladder of water on you.
  9. Zip-off pants are a great way of protecting your skin during the hours when the sun is at its strongest – whilst allowing you to easily convert them into shorts outside of these hours..
  10. Don’t forget to carry a lip balm SPF protection to ensure your lips are adequately protected and hydrated.
  11. Make sure to take regular breaks, ideally in a shaded area out of direct sunlight.
  12. When spending long days outdoors, it is important to wear a sun hat.

Understanding that the precautionary principle is usually adopted regarding safety equipment when mountain climbing, we understand that there is a general assumption that a chemical contaminant – like sunscreen – will cause an issue to personal protective equipment (PPE) unless proven otherwise. For this reason, please see below for guidance on how to minimise exposure of the PPE to potential chemical contaminants:

 

I. Keep sunscreen containers separate in case of leakage, for example sealing it inside a Ziplock bag when not in use.

II. Wash or wipe your hands with a towel before handling PPE. Alternatively, opt for a sunscreen applicator, which will be useful for climbing grip.

III. Wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs can also be helpful with worn PPE, such as harnesses and helmets.

IV. Take out of service and quarantine equipment which becomes accidentally contaminated.

V. Explain the risks regarding potential contamination and supervise under 18-year-olds to ensure no undue contamination of equipment.

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