E.In the summer, when high altitude (over 13,000 feet) hikes begin within a few weeks, there have been reports of breakdowns, evacuations, and even deaths. We worry that so many lives that can be saved are being lost due to ignorance (choose to hike at the wrong time or with the wrong people) or slow actions (not responding to symptoms).
In this article, we’re sharing 5 steps every trekker can take to be safe no matter who or where they’re hiking with.
Here are 5 steps to make sure you have a safe hike
1. Know who you are hiking with
What organization are you going with? What is your experience in the mountains? How credible are you? What do your fellow trekkers say about them? Who are your Trek Leaders? What knowledge do your Trek Leaders have? What equipment do you wear for your safety? Does your itinerary give you enough acclimatization? How will they look after you in an emergency?
These are all important questions to ask before choosing an organization.
I often come across conversations about “Go with a local guide, they’ll know better”. And I always want to tell these people to stop being stupid. This thread Our Facebook community page will give you an idea of what I mean. Go through the comments too, trekkers share their thoughts from experience.
Please do not assume that guides from the area are best suited to hike with them. While they may know mountain routes, most are Not trained for medical or weather-related emergencies! If so, that’s great! But it is best to train yourself with the help of a guide.
To be on the safe side, choose trekking with organizations and trek leaders who are well trained and experienced in the mountains. If the situation arises, you must be able to save your life.
2. Going on a hike ‘at any cost’ is stupid
This is a sensitive issue, but a few weeks ago many organizations did the Buran Ghati and Rupin Pass treks while Indiahikes canceled some batches. We have shifted our trekkers to other treks or reimbursed them altogether.
Many hikers later wrote back to us pointing out and laughing that they had completed the hike with other organizations.
I want to tell you honestly It wasn’t impossible to complete the hike. Damn it, any hike can can be done at any time of the year! But at what cost? Did we want to risk an avalanche? A rockfall? Are you doubling the time it takes to cross a pass at 15,000 feet due to waist-deep snow? Extension of the processing time, the trekking lessons? Are you risking infamous weather after noon in the mountains?
There is a certain risk in the mountains at any time of the year. But what is the risk you want to take? This is your choice.
At Indiahikes, we choose to be cautious because we firmly believe that we need to do a hike at all costs is stupid. The hike will always be there. If not this year, then next year. But putting your life at risk for the hike is not wise. Your life is worth a lot more than a hike.
3. How fit is fit enough?
From our point of view, there are four levels of fitness when you are on a hike.
Level 0 does not prepare for a hike at all. It is horrific, but it is true that there are innumerable hikers who go to the mountains without preparation. Since we are very strict about fitness at Indiahikes, we don’t see too many in this category. But in the mountains there is a noticeable difference between our trekkers and others, especially when others are level 0.
Level 1 it’s his just fit to end the hike. They fight a little, but not a lot. You make it to the top (in our experience, most trekkers reach this fitness level).
Level 2 it’s his fit enough to enjoy your hike. You don’t feel any effort or the need to take care of your body. You will have enough time to explore the area and have conversations during the trek (around 10% of our trekkers achieve this).
level 3 is when you are fit enough to comfortably faced with bad weather conditions, and hike that extra mile through snow and rain. Most trekkers who achieve this fitness level are stoic about the weather, accept and embrace it (very few trekkers reach this fitness level).
Are you at level 0 or 3?
I find that trekkers doing hard treks like Kedartal, Rupin Pass, Everest Base Camp etc are trying to get level 3. But most of the others who do easy to moderate treks only get level 1.
But i have to tell youSuch emergencies can occur even on the simplest of hikes. Why did hikers only have to be evacuated from easier hikes such as Brahmatal, Mukta Top and Kedarkantha in bad weather conditions earlier this year?
Whichever trek you choose, aim to be at the peak of your fitness. Aim at level 3. This way you will reach at least level 2.
4. Trekking is not a service – YOU play an important role in your trekking
Many trekkers leave the management of a trek entirely to the organization or guide they work with.
It is not wise.
What if you are stranded at Rupin Pass like the 4 trekkers? Maybe if they had a GPX file of the trail who knows? They mustn’t have been lost.
What if you get AMS and your guide doesn’t know what to do? How are you going to treat yourself?
Ask yourself how much you know about the hike before you decide on it. Where is it located? How is the trail? Have you studied the GPX file? How high does it climb? What are the risks of climbing this high? How can you help yourself when hit by AMS? Do you have the medication you need? What is the closest street on the trek if you need to evacuate yourself or someone?
Of course you can’t know everything but make an effort to learn the basics. That alone will get you a long way to protect yourself on a hike.
5. Check what safety equipment you are hiking with
In the mountains we find that many organizations don’t have basic equipment – microspikes for walking in snow / ice, ropes to secure dangerous trusses, oxygen bottles for medical emergencies or even stretchers for evacuation.
They often hop to our campsites to borrow stretchers and oxygen bottles.
But those are all basic things that Got to Be in place, especially if you are hiking 11,000-12,000 feet. Check out this video for a comprehensive list of all the equipment we will take with us for a hike. Look here.
My only request to you at the end of this post, is this You take responsibility for your hike. Don’t leave it to the organization or the leader.
If you are ever stuck on a hike in poor conditions, I hope that you are the one who goes out of their way to help others, rather than the one who needs help.
If you have any further observations on these events, please drop your thoughts in the comments below.