Self Guided Trekking - Mountain Safety - Adventure Base
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Self Guided Trekking Mountain Safety

31-10-23

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What it means to be a Self-Guided Trekker?

Being a self-guided trekker means embarking on a journey through nature and remote landscapes independently, without the assistance of professional guides. It’s a highly rewarding and adventurous way to explore the great outdoors, as it grants you a sense of self-sufficiency and the freedom to set your own pace and route. As a self-guided trekker, you are responsible navigating the terrain and ensuring your safety throughout the journey. However, it demands careful preparation, including researching the area, understanding the local environment and weather conditions, and carrying the necessary gear and supplies to make the trek a success.

It is mostly common sense but there are a few things that are good to bear in mind. It’s often more exerting travelling uphill so when you’re traveling downhill it is a nice courtestu to step aside to let uphill travellers pass (if the trail is too narrow to accommodate two people side-by-side.

You will be walking on well-trodden paths and for the large part they are safe and easy to navigate. There are some sections where there is some exposure so it’s important to pay attention here and be sure of your footing – these sections usually have some form of handrail to assist you. Don’t be tempted to veer off the path as you can quickly get lost or find yourself in dangerous terrain. It is also important to be aware of other people on the trail and be careful not to dislodge any loose stones and rocks (if you do accidentally dislodge one, be sure to shout “cailloux” (french) or “rock” to warn those around you) – equally watch out for stones or rocks dislodged by those around you.

Solo Trekkers

We have many solo trekkers on our trips and love getting more people into the mountains. A few things to note when you’re out on the trails alone. It’s a very popular trail and there will be many people around. However, stay within your skill level, and be cautious of pushing your limits. Always trust your instincts and turn back if conditions become dangerous. Solo trekking can be a transformative experience, but it’s vital to prioritise safety, be self-aware, and make responsible decisions throughout your journey to ensure a memorable and safe adventure.

Emergencies

Whilst we have done our utmost to ensure that your trip will go according to plan, there are certain elements that are beyond our control. We recommend that you carefully read and understand the following section in case you find yourself in need of assistance.

The mountains, if not treated with complete respect, can be a dangerous place. Weather can change quickly and terrain can quickly become treacherous. Making good safe decisions based on the weather forecast and your energy levels when on a self-guided trip is paramount to making sure you have a successful trip.

We have two numbers you can call if there is an emergency but if the situation is critical and requires immediate support then please call 112. This is a European emergency number and will connect you to someone who can then redirect you to the local service you need.

  • In resort phone: 0033 (0) 6 47 66 30 93
  • Office: 0044 (0) 20 3813 4779

Navigation

Adventure Base will provide you with a map, .gpx files for navigation (using the FatMap app on your phone or on other GPS devices), and GPS waypoints for your trip. It’s important you study the route before you set off, preferably the evening before each day of hiking, so that you have an idea of what your day will entail. Take into consideration distance, elevation gain and loss, and exposure to elements (will you be up high in terrain exposed to the elements, or lower down in perhaps more sheltered terrain) when studying these.

Phone signal is not always available on the trails and battery life on your mobile device can quickly be drained when using a navigation app (especially in areas of weak phone signal, where your phone has to work harder to find signal), as well as by colder temperatures (such as in cold winds). It is a good idea to carry an external battery charger as a backup so that you can charge on the go if necessary.

Trails are well sign-posted but they often present various options. Often there are variation routes that get you to the same place. For example there might be a high pass or a low pass. Deciding which one to take will depend on weather conditions and/or your preference on the day. Each sign will also provide a rough estimate of the time it takes to get to the next stop.

Weather/Conditions

The weather is one of the most important factors to look out for on your trip. The weather in the mountains can change quickly so making sure that you’re prepared is important. We advise carrying multiple layers regardless of what the forecast says and don’t forget to wear sunscreen. A great app for checking the weather forecast is Meteoblue as it provides detailed and easy to understand data on your specific location. The Vamoos weather section is great too.

When bad weather or thunderstorms strike in the Alps, it is crucial to prioritize safety and take appropriate measures. In such conditions, it’s advisable to seek immediate shelter and get off exposed or high-altitude areas. Lightning can pose a severe threat in mountainous terrain. Avoid being the tallest point in the landscape and stay clear of metal objects. If you’re hiking, climbing, or engaged in any outdoor activity, consider turning back to lower elevations or a designated safe area as quickly as possible. Always keep a close watch on the weather forecast before heading into the mountains and have a reliable means of communication in case of emergencies, such as a satellite phone or a GPS device. Your safety in the Alps during thunderstorms depends on your ability to respond swiftly and sensibly to changing weather conditions.

How to deal with early or late season and walking in the snow. First and foremost, choose appropriate footwear, like insulated, waterproof boots with good traction to prevent slipping. Take smaller steps and walk with a slight bent-knee posture to maintain balance. Utilize trekking poles for added stability, especially on uneven terrain. Be aware of the depth of the snow and watch for hidden obstacles underneath. When possible, walk in already established paths or trails. Finally, use trail micro spikes for extra stability and grip in the snow.

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