An MP will today unveil a smartphone application aimed at cutting the number of mountain rescue callouts in north Wales.
Plaid Cymru member Hywel Williams will launch the iPhone app at a meeting at Pen y Pass in Snowdonia.
The software is aimed at giving hillwalkers and mountaineers access to up-to-date information about weather, ground conditions and snow levels on the hills and mountains of the national park.
Basic advice on skills and equipment are also included.
The Mountain Info Services Project service is targeted in particular at inexperienced hillgoers, particularly on popular routes up Snowdon.
A spokesperson said: “Recent research shows that a significant number of avoidable calls were made by young male adults who were not adequately prepared or did not have the required skills or equipment for their activity.
“The Reducing Mountain Accidents in Snowdonia survey concluded that young male adults from urban areas were mainly responsible for these avoidable calls.
“The Mountain Info Service Project aims to target this particular audience by using modern technology.”
The project has the support of North Wales Mountain Rescue Association, Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team and the North Wales Mounainsafe Group, which includes the North Wales Police and the RAF Search and Rescue 22 Squadron, along with the British Mountaineering Council the Snowdonia National Park Authority and the Met Office, Mountain Leader Training Wales, and Plas y Brenin, the National Mountain Centre, with funding from the Welsh Government, via Sport Wales.
The spokesperson said: “During 2011, 411 calls for assistance to mountain rescue teams were made as people ventured to north Wales to enjoy the beauty and special qualities of the area and this resulted in 291 Mountain Rescue team deployments.
“Modern mobile technology and an awareness initiative launched today will contribute towards reducing these calls and a safer enjoyment of the area.”
A daily report by Snowdonia national park wardens on ground conditions and snow levels on the mountains during the winter months will also be available as part of the project. These are provided for the Met Office’s mountain area forecasts page and on Twitter by following @safesnowdonia or @eryridiogel.
A series of five short video clips have also been produced, narrated by Sian Lloyd, demonstrating the way to prepare for a journey in the mountains including hazard avoidance and what to do in an emergency. These are available on the Met Office and YouTube websites.
Elfyn Jones, British Mountaineering Council officer for Wales, added: “To help this particular audience, as well as the wider public in general, the project was developed to help reduce the number of unnecessary emergency call outs and, more importantly, help walkers to enjoy the great outdoors safely and responsibly.
“Although visitors may have researched the area on the internet before coming, some may not have the required skills to read and use maps and have not prepared themselves for travelling safely in the mountain environment.
“This app provides the necessary information for visitors who are planning a trip to Snowdon and will help them make an informed judgement before they begin their journey.”
Hywel Williams said: “I am delighted to be launching this innovative project.
“People are increasingly dependent on mobile phone technology – and mobile internet in particular – to access information.
“By applying the latest technology to the field of mountain safety, which is such an important issue in areas such as Snowdonia, there is a greater chance of accident prevention and of promoting the safe enjoyment of our wonderful hills and mountains.
“In so doing, the strain on local mountain rescue teams will also be eased.
“I congratulate everyone involved with the Mountain Info Service Project, and hope that all mountaineers and walkers, be they local residents or visitors, will take full advantage of the advice and information that is available.”
Emyr Williams, director of land management for Snowdonia National Park Authority, said: “As an authority, we sincerely hope that this iPhone app will be a useful tool for visitors to Snowdonia and will not only contribute to their enjoyment of the area, but that they also enjoy their visit safely.
“The project also contributes towards the Welsh Government’s health and wellbeing agenda, from the psychological and physical wellbeing of visitors, to the economic wellbeing of local communities in the national park.”
The application is available for download from the iTunes website.