Whether you are planning on hiking through snow-capped mountains or skiing off-piste this winter, there are just so many ways to spend the season exploring what nature has to offer. Winter is a beautiful time for hiking, walking and skiing but it also presents slightly more challenging conditions such as shorter days, slippery terrain and colder temperatures; where making errors could result in grave consequences. To avoid this, rigorous safety considerations are key to making the most out of your mountain experience.
- Careful planning for your day of activity is primarily the key component for keeping you safe in the winter terrain.
- Check that the weather forecast is safe for your chosen activity and also the status of any potential hazards that you may encounter whilst in the mountains, for example if there is any potential risk of avalanche.
- Ensure that the chosen activity is within the ability of everyone participating and that there is enough daylight time to complete the desired task. As the days in winter get shorter, it is imperative to take this into account when in the mountains.
- Advanced navigational skills will be a key asset to the experience as it will help avoid any unwanted situations if the route is well planned out.
- Being able to know when to turn back and knowing when your limits are reached is extremely important since a safe return is paramount over completing your planned day of activity.
- Crampons and an ice axe can stop you from slipping and give you more stability. Knowing how to use them properly is essential to any hiking in snowy or icy terrain.
- Other kit and equipment is necessary too; ensure that you take sufficient food and water for your expedition as well as warm clothing that is waterproof which can shield you from harsh weather such as rain or snow.
- Keep hydrated even if the water seems too cold to drink! Dehydration during physically taxing activities can make you feel even colder and more tired.
- Sun cream on any exposed skin will prevent any potential sunburn. Just because it is cold does not mean that you can’t get sun burnt!
- A survival kit is possibly one of the most essential things that you should take with you as it will slow the progression of hypothermia in an emergency situation. These can range from foil blankets to blizzard survival bags, so it really depends on the type of activity you will be doing and which you consider to be useful. Either way, any form of survival kit forms a critical part of any mountaineering equipment list
This advice is not exhaustive so the best option to ensure that you are fully equipped for your mountain experience would be to attend a winter skills training course that will give you the experience needed to be sufficient and safe during your activities in winter.
To have a look at our mountaineering courses click here.