Have a look at this video created by the 12th Roscommon group who participated in the Connaught 2017 event.
Q) Mountain Pursuit Challenge – what is it?
A) It’s a weekend challenge to four of your scouts (and a leader!) to hike a given route in mountainous terrain. Scouts should be physically and mentally prepared for a tough weekend and therefore we recommend that scouts should be at least 13½ years old. The events start on a Friday night and finish generally at lunchtime on the Sunday to allow for travel.
Q) When do the MPCs take place?
A) The MPC season starts every April with the Munster event, Leinster is held in May. September sees the Connaught event, followed by the Ulster event in October.
Q) Is it a competition?
A) No. There are no marks awarded and it is most certainly not a race.
Q) So why take part?
A) MPCs provide your scouts with an opportunity to experience unfamiliar terrain in some of Ireland’s most beautiful mountain areas and share their experiences with scouts from all over the island.
Q) Are there any restrictions on entry?
A) Only common sense ones. The MPCs are not the place to learn map and compass work or how to pitch a tent in the dark in the pouring rain. For this reason we highly recommend that your scouts have gained map and compass skills, lightweight camping skills, back-packing experience etc. before considering attempting one.
Q) Can I enter more than one team?
A) Generally no! Demand is very high for places on each MPC. To maximise the number of troops that get an opportunity to take part, each troop is limited to one team. Each event is limited to 20 teams. If spare places are available in the weeks before the event, the option of a second team will be offered to interested troops.
Q) But aren’t there bases en-route to learn these things?
A) There are checkpoints where scouts will be assessed to check on progress and direction finding. The staff do not expect to have to teach someone the basics on a rainy hillside but they will be more than willing to impart their pearls of wisdom if asked to do so…ideally at the campsites when there is more time (and comfort!) to have a chat with you or your scouts.
Q) What about equipment?
A) Each team should be self sufficient for the weekend with tents, stoves etc. There will be detailed lists of equipment sent out with the information packs outlining exactly what is expected but, generally speaking, scouts should have clothing and footwear to deal with typical Irish mountain weather. There are inspections upon arrival on the Friday night and again, common sense should be applied. If a scout turns up with runners instead of boots after having been driven 100 miles – bad luck. Remember Be Prepared!
Q) OK, so where does this fit into our scouting programme?
A) The MPCs are an extension to the experience of your scouts so that they can practice the skills they have learned through your weekly meetings and more importantly your troop day or weekend hikes. They are ideal for scouts who have some experience in the hills and are aiming for level 5 or above in the Hill Skills adventure skills . There is one MPC held in each of the four provinces each year and each has its own badge which are awarded for participation. Even if you can’t get around the country you can attend your local event and meet scouts from all over!
Q) What type of tent is needed?
A) Your tent is the key piece of equipment for an enjoyable and comfortable weekend. See this link for more information.
We hope that these points clear up some of the mystery surrounding the Mountain Pursuit Challenges. They are not events for elite mountain goats who rocket off and leave their poor leader standing. They are events for your scouts to experience the Great Outdoors, advance their back-packing knowledge and have fun along the way.
Q) Where have the MPCs been run?
A) Over the years, pretty much every mountain area on the island. See the attached list of MPC routes.