SPRING ALTERS BLOOD
Spring astronomically begins with the vernal equinox, in our hemisphere on March 20, and ends with the summer solstice around June 21. Spring is identified with the increase in daylight hours and average temperatures, thawing, flowering, the awakening of the hibernating fauna and the return of migratory birds … And of course, also the return to activities in the natural environment of many of his lovers, especially due to the coincidence of the festive dates of Holy Week. This year is an atypical season, we come from mobility restrictions and their logical consequences. This is a variable that we must take into account, so as not to fall into psychological traps that lead us to attempt objectives for which we are not really ready yet … And we know that spring alters blood.
SPRING AND ITS SHADES
At the climatic level, in spring there is a slow and progressive increase in temperature, rainfall tends to be more irregular and less generalized, discharging in the form of showers, with the possibility of stormy phenomena more likely in the middle and end of the season. . Being very probable some period of winter environment due to residual cold air masses … That is to say that everything can happen to us and in the same day. This meteorological variability increases the level of uncertainty and marks the importance of capturing the best possible information and having the necessary training to manage it.
Photo 1. Spring is an ideal time to do hiking trails that lead us to waterfalls, now in their maximum splendor.
Spring is the time par excellence for thawing, this phenomenon produces the increase of the riverbed that can sometimes be noticeable, being able to find completely flooded roads and find ourselves in the situation of having to modify the objective, deviate and even, if this it was not possible, to have to wade through them. So it is always advisable to have a plus of local information on the state of the rivers … Even if they are small they can be very dangerous.
Other meteorological elements to consider are wind and fog. These last two years have been especially windy in the Spanish mountains, we have never seen so many days so in a row with such strong gusts. In addition, the wind increases the sensation of cold since it favors the evaporation of moisture from the skin and for this it consumes heat rather than body … If we add altitude to this, warm clothing will be more than necessary.
Photo 2. Handling GPS and orientation techniques is essential to make any activity in the natural environment safer
The fog caused by the thermal contrasts of the season is one of the most important dangers in activities in the natural environment. There are mountain areas especially prone to this phenomenon and where rescue interventions due to disorientation accumulate. Carrying GPS with spare batteries is a key tool for these types of situations. But it is even more so to be trained in orientation techniques.
THE SPRING HIGH OF WINTER ACTIVITY
For the most addicted, spring is the peak time for climbs in the deep corridors of the northern slopes and for the great crossings with skis, although in recent years the effects of climate change are already being felt and the calendar is more capricious never. Activities in the high mountains must maintain the same rigor in risk management as winter activities, highlighting among other two high-risk elements, that of falling stones due to gelling processes and that of avalanches due to increased temperature.
Photo 3. Training in snow science applied to our activities, avalanches and rescue are essential for snow activities.
The subject of avalanches requires specific training in the environment and in making decisions on the ground. As well as carrying DVA, probe and shovel, essential tools in case of rescue of avalanche victims and that must always accompany our activities in snowy terrain. With risk 4 the guides no longer work, but beware of risk 3 on the ATES scale, it is the most dangerous of all … Being in the middle of the scale of 1 to 5 creates a false sense of security and this feeling kills.
Avalanches are not exclusive to the highest elevations and steepest slopes, nor are they exclusive to mountaineering or ski mountaineering activities. Snowshoeing and snowshoeing activities must also have the equipment, material and training for their appropriate use. We must pay special attention to frozen ponds or ponds and snow bridges over rivers, they can collapse under our weight and fall into the water. We must avoid traveling on them and if that is not possible, we must ensure their stability, probe their thickness and go one by one.
Photo 4. Enjoying and being aware of the risks are part of the same moment
Although we plan the activity at low elevations, where in principle there is no snow, we have to take into account orographic factors that favor the presence of snowfields, whenever possible we will avoid walking on them. The hardness of the snow and the slope of the snowfield can be very important risk factors, an uncontrolled fall can be fatal … And this cause constantly appears in the mountain accident statistics. Carrying crampons with anti-cramps and ice ax, as well as having the necessary training to use them, is something basic for anyone who does mountain activities.
SPRING AS A STARTING POINT
If we are one of those who return to physical-sporting activity in nature, we have to keep in mind to always do it gradually, even if we have trained in the urban environment. The choice of objectives should be from less to greater intensity, taking into account other levels of demand in addition to the effort, such as the severity of the environment or the difficulty of movement.
The age factor also counts, the youngest physically adapt and recover first, in older ages a smoother progression should be taken into account. The key to progression must also be applied to each activity itself, having to start it at a low rate to gradually adapt our entire body to the intensity required.
Photo 5. Canyoning is one of the activities that begins in spring. A very fun but very committed activity, knowledge of the river environment is essential.
And with spring, the canyoning season begins. Due to the thaw, spring is a time when flows are usually high, so we must look for reliable and objective information, with it we will avoid unpleasant surprises. It is necessary to study the hydrological basin, geomorphology of the ravine and possible thaws. If we look for reviews in books, we must verify that these are reliable and that the description adapts to the moment of flow of the ravine. But not only flows the canyoning, the weather for the day of activity and the previous days is essential. Check as you get closer to the date of the activity, 48 hours before it tends to be highly reliable and pay special attention to weather warnings. With all this and the good decisions we make on the ground, we guarantee an acceptable level of risk.
Spring is a season full of nuances, also specific nuances of safety, in order to be able to enjoy the mountain in a responsible and safe way, we recommend that you follow the guidelines that the FEDME Safety Committee presents in its training capsules https: // securityfedme. es / capsulas-formativa / and be trained through the Schools of the Autonomous Federations and the Spanish High Mountain School.
FEDME Security Committee