Considering the fact that before us lies a new summer, and mountaineering in summer in practice is more massive compared to the other seasons, here are some directions and recommendations on how to safely mountaineer in summer.
Planning of the tour is safely mountaineering, and mountaineering without planning is wrong and can be quite dangerous. You always have to choose a tour and path which is within our psycho-physical abilities and opportunities.
If you are mountaineering in a group, then you need to predict the overall abilities of the members of the group because the group is as strong as the weakest member of the group and that’s the potential it has for success.
Gather information about the planned tour and the direction in which you will be moving. Use information from the Internet, mountaineering magazines, blogs, etc. The best option is to step in contact with a mountaineer that already completed your chosen tour and with that you will get the real experiences which are often the best type of information you can get.
If the track is marked with appropriate marking, then get informed about the rules of following the local mountaineering marking system. Avoid mountaineering in summer on tracks that are established for winter.
Find, buy, or borrow a compass and map with the route, and if you’re unable to do that then try to draw the route on a simple topographic map (of course if you have knowledge of topography).
Always use a GPS device and be careful to have an extra battery for the same. Download and use apps for your route on your phone, but always have in mind that these types of apps often need internet or mobile network, and mountaineering often takes you to locations where there’s not always internet or mobile network available. Therefore, the apps should be there to help you, but never as a main navigational tool.
Always keep track of the weather forecast for the region that you plan to visit and keep an eye on forecasts for all meteorological conditions in the region: rain, snow, wind, clouds, humidity, and microclimate. Don’t start a tour when there is a bad weather forecast with hopes that it won’t come true.
Before you go on the tour tell your closest family or friends that you are planning to mountaineer and if possible put in place a time frame in which you will keep communication with them. For example, at the beginning of the tour, when you reach the top/mountain lodge and when you finish the tour. Or you can do it at specific time intervals: morning, noon, night, etc. Also, it is very important to communicate and inform the people in the mountain lodges and hotels about your intentions to mountaineer and give them an approximate time in which you will be back.
Mountaineering shoes- on the mountain in summer it is recommended to wear high or semi-high mountain shoes, with a certain permeability (Gore-Tex membrane), semi-hard sole, and rubber (Vibram) which has a certain resistance to slipping. When climbing, the shoes should be well tightened with the straps, while when descending they should be tightened to avoid injuries to the ankle and blisters when slipping or rubbing.
Mountaineering backpack- depending on the tour and the duration of the tour there are several types and sizes. It is desirable that everything in the backpack is packed in waterproof bags for protection of the equipment.
Mountaineering telescopic sticks- it is desirable to have them on each tour because they have a wide range of uses in mountaineering and have a positive effect on mountaineering assistance. The sticks can also improve the blood circulation in the upper body that is under pressure from the backpack. If in some part of the tour the terrain is unfavorable for their use, they can be easily collected in the backpack until they are needed again.
Clothing- appropriate mountaineering clothing that will be appropriate for the conditions and time of the day of doing the tour. In any case, it is recommended to wear long-legged pants and long-sleeved shirts that can be adapted to any situation.
Water thermos- you should always keep in mind to bring enough water or soft drinks and to appropriately pack them in water bottles or camel tanks in your backpack.
Protection from weather elements- appropriate hats and gloves even though it’s summer are needed. Sometimes in the mountains, the combination of rain and wind can be extremely dangerous. Have a raincoat, sunglasses that are preferably polarized for better protection, and sunscreen with a high protection factor.
Personal first aid kit with a mandatory addition- aluminum foil.
Additional equipment- the rest of the equipment that is desirable to have during each tour is a headlamp, hob, spare batteries, multifunctional knife, lighter, 2-3 meters of rope 4-6 mm thick, spare socks, high-calorie foods in easy packaging with lightweight, and high-sounding first aid whistle.
in case of an emergency
If you have a mobile phone connection immediately dial 112, 991, or another local rescue number that you got informed for in advance. Inform who is asking for help, where the accident happened, who or how much they were injured, and what type of help would you need.
Try to stay calm and focused, and with your example, you will influence others in the group thus reducing the tension. Evaluate the situation and protect yourself and others from imminent dangers that may still lurk.
Offer first air according to your knowledge and capabilities. If you are alone and injured if possible try to do the first aid procedures for self-help.
If you don’t have a mobile phone connection, try to do the previously mentioned on how to be on a safe spot with your group, and then try to look for a mobile phone connection. Join the group as soon as you can.
Expect the help to arrive in a matter of hours because the rescue team is coming with a lot and heavy equipment, the helicopter unit may be unable to reach the point in case of bad weather or terrain.
Written by: Petar Nolev, mountain guide and rescue service