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Hiking rules: Right to the top but correctly

Mountain tours are a pleasure but due care and attention is called for. The Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (bfu) issues an information leaflet with important tips for mountain hikers. Here is a summary.

Be physically fit

Take part in a variety of sports all year round, this improves the level of fitness you need to be able to safely hike in the mountains. You should regularly work on your agility, coordination, strength and endurance in order to build up and maintain a good level of fitness.

Always have a map

Numerous mountain accidents could be prevented by careful planning. Important resources and orientation aids are hiking maps as well as hiking books that provide more information about the type of terrain and trail conditions besides just distances and differences in altitude.

Careful detailed planning

  • Adapt the route to the season (snow conditions, daylight).
  • Take notice of the weather forecast.
  • Determine the length and level of difficulty of the mountain hike based on the fitness and skills of the weakest member of the group.
  • Obtain information about current trail conditions from the locals.
  • Start mountain tours in the early morning and calculate in enough time, plan alternative routes and how to turn back.
  • Inform at least one person about your route and destination. Report back after your tour!

Correct equipment

The weather can change very suddenly in the mountains. The right equipment is therefore vital:

  • high mountain boots with a profiled rubber sole.
  • Cater your clothing towards unexpected weather changes. Multi-layering principle; wear several thin layers instead of one thick jacket.
  • Protection against the cold, a spare set of clothes, a hat, sun protection, sunglasses, wind and rain protection and possibly hiking poles.
  • A backpack with wide correctly adjusted straps.
  • Take plenty of provisions and drink with you.
  • For emergencies: a pocket medicine kit, dressings, foil rescue blanket, torch, mobile phone.

Correct conduct

  • Do not leave the officially white-red-white marked mountain hiking trails.
  • It is important to drink even if you don't feel thirsty.
  • In the event of sudden bad weather do not take any risks and turn back early.
  • Staying in the mountains during a thunderstorm can be very dangerous for hikers and climbers because of the many exposed areas and because of the rapidly changing weather.
  • Take care on snowfields and in blind spots. Glissades can be very dangerous.
  • Turn back early if the weather breaks or there are any other problems (for example feeling unwell).
  • If you get lost: Stay together as a group and return to the last known point. In case of fog, wait until visibility improves and do not descend across unknown terrain.