Hiking is adventurous, fun and good for your body and soul. In order to enjoy your trip and be safe, you have to prepare EVERY hiking tour carefully. Even if it is a tour that you know well, most of the general rules apply for preparation! Here is a safety guide for your future hikes.
- Let one of your friends or family members know where you go (including the whole tour itinerary and time of arrival). Avoid going alone- it’s safer to go with a friend.
- Check the weather forecast; use proper websites for your research that are specialized in mountain weather (for the Alps check out: http://www.zamg.ac.at). Also research the current conditions in the mountains like temperature, snow etc.
- For trail information check different websites/ guide books. Buy a map of the area – and know how to read it!
- Check the level of difficulty! Do you need extra equipment, for example a helmet? Are there climbing passages or a via ferrata on the way?
- Take into account how long the tour takes/ how high you climb and plan accordingly. Don’t forget to plan enough breaks. Be realistic: don’t overestimate yourself, always schedule some extra time.
- If you are hiking with a group check the fitness of the participants and plan accordingly. The hike’s pace needs to be adapted to the slowest hiker. That means that the slowest person is leading the group together with the most experienced hiker and another experienced hiker is walking at the end of the group. When you go as a group, always stay together!
- Check alternative routes; plan for a (backup) quick descend route
- While hiking always pay attention to your environment! Keep an eye on the sky while hiking. Check out the clouds. Is there a wind coming up? Is it getting dark? The weather in the mountains is often unpredictable. So even if the forecast predicted a sunny day, don’t rely on the stability of good conditions.
- Be smart and turn back if the situation asks for it! Ego is inappropriate in the mountainside!! If the weather changes, one of your group members is exhausted or you are running out of time and run the risk of ending up in darkness – turn back and be safe.
- Never leave clearly marked trails
- Save the emergency number in your cell phone before you leave (especially when you trek abroad). Make sure your phone is fully charged and save battery → switch to airplane mode when you don’t need the phone, close all Apps, reduce the brightness of the screen.
Find more information about behaviour in case of an emergency here.
- Pack your backpack the night before
- Call the mountain hut if you want to stay overnight and make sure there are beds available. Let the hosts know which trail you are planning to take and when you will arrive approximately. The people working there will also be able to tell you about the weather conditions aloft (on 2000 meters or above you might find snow even during the summer months – in that case you better be prepared!)