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1. PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Your trip is more likely to be successful and enjoyable if it is well-planned. Make the effort to prepare thoroughly before hand; check the weather forecast and let someone else know you plan! This way if the worse were to happen, another person knows your route and could alert mountain rescue if needs me.
2. LEARN YOUR ROUTE
With extensive online resources these days you have no excuse to embark on your adventure completely unprepared! Research your route, collect information on conditions, perhaps look for forums where you might be able to talk to others who have done the same route, or similar. Always listen to local advice – they might know more than the guidebooks!
3. COMFORT AND PRACTICALITY
It is important to consider what you wear. Sensible clothing is a must and if you take the time to make sure you buy comfortable kit before you begin your adventure, you will not be sorry! With so many different brands available these days, take the time to realise what will serve you best. Perhaps most importantly, invest in your footwear. Remember that feet swell in the heat a little so don’t buy shoes that are too small; friction can cause blisters. Also, always wear proper hiking socks that can wick away moisture more effectively than cotton socks.
4. LAYER UP
The weather in the mountains is known for its unpredictability so be prepared for every eventuality by taking lots of layers. This way you can take off, or put on, a layer as required. For high altitude and exposed regions, wearing synthetic (non-cotton) clothing is a good idea as it is lightweight, packs easily and dries quickly!
5. WET WEATHER
Don’t forget your wet weather gear! The bare minimum is a good waterproof jacket but waterproof leggings or gaiters to cover your boots are also worth considering.
6. SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN
Don’t let colder climes deceive you when it comes to the strength of the sun. You may be surrounded by snow, ice and glaciers but the higher up you are, the more intense the sun’s rays. Your UV exposure increases by 10% for every 3,280 feet in altitude. Therefore at 6,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation, you’re exposed to 25% more UV radiation than at sea level. Snow also reflects 80-90% of UV light back at you, dramatically increasing sun exposure, whereas grass reflects only 3% of sunlight.
7. EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT
You may never use everything in your backpack but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t leave without the following:
• First aid kit (anti-inflammatories, butterfly wound closures, blister kit, duct tape)
• LED lightweight torch and batteries
• High energy snacks
• A phone/walkie talkie
• Sturdy water bottle
• Sunscreen and lip protection
• Insect repellent
8. EATING AND DRINKING
A substantial and nutritious breakfast will set you up well for a challenging day. Porridge with a banana or wholemeal toast and peanut butter are healthy options. Snacks, often referred to as “trail food” will get you through the day and high energy/protein foods like supplement bars, nuts, dense salty crackers will keep you going. Salty snacks are good for replenishing what you will lose through sweat but it is important to get the balance right as consuming too much salt will mean you’re thirsty for the rest of the day! Drink little and often to stay hydrated.
9. MAP READING
Even if you have a GPS device take a map with you as a backup. Electronic devices can lose charge, break or be lost too easily to be your sole source of navigation. Map-reading skills will put you in good stead for your trip and for future.
10. BE INSURED
Adventures in the mountains are not to be feared and if you are well prepared it is unlikely for things to go wrong, but Mother Nature cannot always be predicted and you may be caught out.