Just don't rush things: plan the mountain hike properly

The hiking season in the mountains is slowly but surely beginning.

Just don't rush things: plan the mountain hike properly

The hiking season in the mountains is slowly but surely beginning. A tour in the mountains requires planning of the route, provisions and equipment. And a cool head when the going gets tough.

Mountain hikes promise peace, nature and magnificent views. They cannot be compared with a walk in the local park. However, beginners in particular should remain sober and prefer to take their first hike in the mountains a little more leisurely, advises Stefan Winter from the German Alpine Club (DAV). Here are his tips for planning a tour.

1st route

Only choose what you can master. That's the motto for the route. However, this requires a certain amount of experience. Winter recommends that beginners start with the easiest paths and slowly feel their way forward. A rating system known from ski resorts helps here: blue for easy routes, red for moderately difficult, black for difficult ones. In Bavaria, Austria, Switzerland and South Tyrol in Italy, the system is also widespread on hiking routes, says Winter.

"Blue is an easy mountain trail where you can't fall. Red is of medium difficulty and has some narrow passages with a risk of falling," he explains. "Black are difficult mountain paths with a risk of falling, which can be very steep. Sometimes you need your hands to hold on here."

His advice: If you do sports regularly, have no previous illnesses and are under 40 years old, you can start off with simple mountain hikes. "Everyone else should first get a medical check-up and then take part in guided hikes first." When it comes to the length of the route, not only the distance in kilometers is decisive, but also the number of meters in altitude. Especially when climbing. "Going upstairs is exhausting," says Winter.

Also part of the planning is to read the weather report carefully and, if necessary, to find out about the condition of the paths - for example from the local tourist office.

2nd group

We often go to the mountains together. According to Winter, an old basic rule applies: "The weakest person always sets the pace." It is important to be clear about the motive of the group beforehand. If smaller children or older people are there, it should be less about a sporting challenge and more about enjoyment and relaxation. Here, the leisurely round with playgrounds along the way and longer stops at huts is probably the better choice.

3. Equipment

The be-all and end-all are the shoes, says Winter. "They should be ankle-high and have firm tread soles. That's the best way to prevent slipping." You won't find a good footing in the mountains with soft jogging shoes. "If someone goes hiking in jeans, I have less of a problem with it than if someone starts walking in sneakers."

4. Provisions

Winter estimates that an average hike in the Alps, including ascent and descent, takes four to six hours. That goes to the substance. To avoid hypoglycaemia, you should drink and eat in good time: "Ideally always before you develop hunger and thirst."

Specifically, he advises: Eat a hearty breakfast before you set off and eat something every two hours at the latest, be it a muesli bar, a banana or a sandwich. Take a drinking break at least every hour.

5. Emergencies

Exhaustion, disorientation, falls - if you get into trouble during a mountain hike, you should keep calm, take a break and, if necessary, get help from other hikers. In an emergency, call 112. The emergency number works throughout Europe. "You get to a rescue control center everywhere, which informs the mountain rescue service."

Until the helpers arrive, you should put on warm clothing, go to a sheltered position, withdraw from terrain where there is a risk of falling, calm down and eat and drink something. "No ill-considered, knee-jerk actions," says Winter.

In order to avoid emergencies, it is best for hikers to reflect regularly on the way: is everyone fit, are we on the right path, are we on schedule? If there are points that make you uncomfortable, you shouldn't ignore them, warns Winter. This also applies to tiredness. He makes it clear: "It's often better to give up and turn back than to do a tour by force."