You should be well prepared for mountain hiking
1. Know what the tour involves
what is needed for mountain hiking:
• surefootedness and, depending on the tour, a head for heights
• good stamina and endurance (never overestimate your own capabilities!)
2. Plan diligently, collect sufficient information and asses it rationally:
• difference in altitude when ascending and descending
• total distance in kilometres, condition of paths
• ground conditions, difficulty, walking times for individual distances and overall walking time
• venues such as refuges, cable car stations etc. Use maps and guide books.
• check out the timetables of buses and/or cable cars (last journey!)
3. Before starting out:
• Inform family members, manager of mountain hut, and your landlord about the route of your tour, destination and likely time of return (roughly calculated).
•as far as possible try to set off early but definitely in the case of long hikes, very high daytime temperatures or the risk of thunder storms in the afternoon.
4. During the tour
• drink liquids regularly and in good time
• take a break at regular intervals
• take refreshment at regular intervals
• should you change your plans during the tour, you must make sure without fail that the relevant person in the valley is informed of this so that unnecessary search operations are not started.
• And! Have you thought about sun protection?
5. Safety has top priority
• dangerous situations that bring you to the limit of your ability, such as for example damage to the path, steep, frozen fields of snow should in any event be reason enough to turn back.
• stay on the marked path and avoid short cuts.
• stay together as a group.
• should you end up in unknown terrain in the case of fog or darkness, protect yourself in any event as far as possible from cold, wait for better light the following morning or for help to arrive. Do NOT wander around aimlessly.
• a descent through unknown terrain can be potentially fatal!
The name already says it. Gym shoes are meant for the gym and alpine boots are meant for the mountains! High or semi high alpine boots with a non-slip grip sole are a must, comfortable clothing (skin tight jeans and similar T-shirts are suitable for the disco) in accordance with the layered clothing principle and a daypack with drinking bottle and something to eat are basic equipment. In any event, even in the case of short tours, you should always have protection from the rain! A sudden summer storm is almost always quicker “there” than it takes the hiker to reach a hut or the valley. In the case of hikes in the high mountains a wind-proof jacket is essential and a woolly hat often useful! A change in weather is often connected with a drop in temperature.
In the case of tours lasting several days with overnights in huts, a change of clothes and a toilet bag have to be added to the 3 essentials (sleeping bag, towel and slippers).
Thunder and lightning
Once lightning was considered to be the mighty weapon of Zeus, the father of the gods as a sign of the anger of the gods. Today, we know better, but lightning has not nevertheless become harmless. In the case of a storm a warm front clashes with a cold front and the electrical tensions discharge themselves in the form of thunder and lightning. And if humidity as well as ascending and descending air currents are added to this the storm is perfect. Depending on where you are at the time, problems can arise.
In central Europe storms are mainly active in the afternoon (3pm to 6pm), with a rather less pronounced minimum at 9am. Especially heat thunder storms clear away again in the evening.
A simple rule of thumb allows us to specify how far away a storm is! Count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder and divide the result by three. The number that comes from this is the approximate distance in kilometres. (Example: if 10 seconds pass from the flash of lightning to the clap of thunder, the storm is about 3km away; now it’s getting close!)
There are a lot of “good” suggestions about how to behave properly in the open air in the case of storms. Some are right, but others are best for suicide candidates. For example, “You should look for beech trees, but avoid meadows”. The type of tree makes no difference to a flash of lightning. It usually strikes at the highest point of an area of land, even if there should be a beech tree there ...
What should be done then if you are surprised on a mountain hike by a storm and cannot get to the next hut in time?
- never form the highest point of the terrain; if at all possible crouch down in a hollow on your rucksack with your legs closed; keep a distance of at least 10 metres from any trees;
- keep a distance of at least 1 metre, better 3 metres, from any companions; on no account should you hold on to each other;
- if possible crouch down at the foot of a cliff at least 1 metre away (still with closed legs!).
The advantages and disadvantages of mountain hut life
If you contemplate the life of your landlady or landlord, you may really feel like changing places with them! All that fresh air, plenty of exercise, a healthy environment, nature, good wages. One would like to think.
But how does the spaghetti get here! From the cooking pot of course! But before the cooking pot? The spaghetti already had an adventurous and costly journey behind them. By the supply cable car over ravines and cliffs up to the mountain station, from where the landlord has to carry or push them, or in a goods net under a “Lama” or “B3” helicopter, both high performance and high mountain helicopters at a cost of €25 per minute. The empty spaghetti packet returns not over the cliff, but is carried back into the valley in the residual waste (that many a visitor to the hut has thoughtlessly left behind) at the same price. There remains light and water as larger supply costs and sewerage and faeces treatment as maintenance costs. Costly wastewater treatment plants have long been regulation, but they only function up to a certain altitude. Everything above this has to be flown in large plastic containers to the wastewater plant in the valley.
As everywhere, electricity comes from the socket, but it comes into the socket from the diesel generator, that, as the name indicates, is driven by diesel and, as all machinery, has very high-maintenance demands. Getting water in the mountains is also not a simple matter. Indeed the water comes from the mountains, but it runs downhill or more often than not only appears at the base of the cliff. Therefore it either has to be produced from snow, pumped up or conveyed over long distances. If the night temperature sinks below zero, as can happen even in summer, the water can turn into ice, as we all know, and simply stops flowing! Therefore dear alpinists there would still be a lot more to say about mountain huts that are not really so easy to manage!