When we plan a trip to the mountains we think about the exciting part of the experience, the challenge that it will entail or everything that we are going to discover. But do we have a plan in case things don’t go well? With this small basic survival guide we want to help you prepare your routes safely. And it is that the best weapon in the face of an unforeseen event is to be prepared.
The first and most important thing is to anticipate that anything can happen, for this planning is a fundamental part:
1-. Know the terrain for survival
First of all, it is very important to know well the terrain that is going to be visited, if it is going to be wooded, flat, rocks, etc. and find out about the risks or dangers that the area may have.
When it comes to knowing the terrain and geography, you can count on 3D maps, to know the relief and orthophoto maps to visualize the type of terrain, in addition to the topographic ones with which to follow the trails. We recommend you take the previously planned and analyzed route from home, a software like Land, will help you to know each point of your route, and alternative routes in case of emergency.
2-. Look at the weather
Before starting a mountain route it is important to know the weather to decide. Being surprised by a storm in the high mountains or a snowstorm can cause unpleasant accidents, so it is important to know in advance what the weather is going to be like so that you can be prepared and cancel the route if necessary.
3-. Survival kit. What do you need?
A basic survival kit should include: Water, food, knife, rope, waterproof matches (or lighter), a small first aid kit, flashlight, raincoat, warm clothes and a compass with map, or a GPS.
Why do we recommend the use of GPS?
Apart from the mobile or the map, we always recommend the use of GPS in the mountains, especially if the route is going to be long and unforeseen events may arise.
The GPS has greater autonomy than a mobile phone and is designed to withstand extreme situations of cold, heat, water, without affecting the battery or the visibility of the screen. In case of loss, it is important to reserve the battery of the mobile phone to be able to make calls and not use it as a GPS.
In addition, the advantage of GPS over a map is that the GPS will tell you exactly where you are. If you’ve gotten lost, you may not know exactly where to stand on a paper map.
If the unforeseen event is adverse weather, with the GPS you will be able to orient yourself both in the rain and in the fog as you go. Being able to trace an alternative path and emitting a sound every time you leave the path.
And if it happens…
Everything and carrying a well-planned route and a GPS that indicates the route, unforeseen events can always arise that can immobilize us in an area, such as an accident, sudden change in weather that prevents us from moving forward, etc… Keep calm and follow these 4 advice:
1. Analyze the situation
In the event of an unforeseen event/accident, the most important thing is to know how to react and maintain a serene and willing attitude against the fear and fatigue that a situation of uncertainty can cause.
So stop, take your time to analyze the situation, relax and don’t let panic invade you.
The first of all will be to analyze whether to move forward or not. This decision will depend on:
- If you can move, in case of an accident
- You can send an emergency/warning signal and you must stay in the exact place.
- No visibility.
- The place where you are has some danger, such as risk of avalanches, sudden rise in river water, precipices, etc.
We recommend the following article: How to avoid a panic attack in the mountains?
2. Ensures waterproofing and body heat
Once the situation has been analyzed and a decision has been made, it is important to make sure that you keep your clothes isolated and dry. To do this, carrying a raincoat or capeline in your backpack will be of great help.
As well as maintaining body heat, for this you must know the areas where the body loses more heat to keep them covered: Head, neck, wrists, hands, ankles and feet. Try to keep them all covered and keep moving, avoiding the wind and sitting directly on the ground without using a material that insulates you from the cold and humidity of the ground.
Drinking and eating regularly will also help you maintain your body heat.
3. Find a covert
If you have to spend the night outside, it is important that you find a place where you can take shelter, or alternatively, make one to protect yourself from the rain, wind or snow and be able to rest to replenish your energy.
For this it is important to choose well the location of our shelter to spend the night:
- Look for the sunniest and driest areas, avoiding the wetter areas. To do this, head south or southeast looking for the hottest areas.
- Stay away from areas of swamps or rivers to avoid being devoured by mosquitoes or flooding in case of rain.
- Keep in mind that the smaller the shelter, the easier it will be to heat the environment and maintain your body heat.
- Focus the door of your shelter on the opposite side of the wind.
- Do not sleep directly on the ground, look for some material that acts as an insulator.
- Try to find natural shelters, an area of bushes will help protect you from the cold and wind. Just like finding a cleft between rocks or a cave, it will protect you from rain or snow.
4. Keep hydrated
Dehydration can cause symptoms such as headache, fatigue, irritability, which can further worsen our survival, so it is advisable to prioritize and plan how to carry out proper hydration.
If you do not carry enough water reserves, try to find sources or rivers where you can get water, look around you and avoid drinking water from areas surrounded by livestock, where the water may contain manure.
In the mountains, prevention is always better than risk. Staying calm, good route planning and a good team will save us a lot of headaches during our outings.
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