The mountains in winter are especially seductive as they showcase the changing scenery, keep the other seasons under wraps, and prepare to reveal them anew in reinvigorated shapes and colors. Meanwhile, the snowy landscapes give us a sense of freedom and release from our everyday routines.
If you’re a trekking enthusiast, whether pro or a weekend warrior, you’ll be eager to enjoy what winter has to offer, to explore new routes and photograph the stunning vistas.
But first, a question: have you properly planned and are you well equipped for these new adventures and for the weather and terrain you’ll encounter?
Below are some small but important tips to keep in mind as you prepare for an excursion in the snow.
The first thing to do is… choose your excursion wisely!
While you’ll find plenty of advice and glamorous photos online and on social networks, it’s important to consider the level of experience of yourself and the others in your group. You absolutely must choose a hike or a trek you can manage.
Once you’ve picked a destination, make sure you have the right equipment and clothing. You’ll need to consult (and learn to read) the avalanche bulletin, and check with experienced guides that your information is correct.
– always tell someone where you’re going
– know your route
– never go it alone
Let’s start with clothing, for each of the four areas you’ll need to protect: head, body, hands and feet.
The head and face are what less experienced trekkers tend to neglect, even though it’s the part of you most exposed to the elements. At a minimum you’ll need a warm hat, but if your trek includes long distances and extreme weather, we also advise a balaclava to cover your mouth and cheeks.
Remember to dress in layers: you shouldn’t be cold, but nor should you sweat too much. Excessive sweating, especially for long periods of time and in very cold temperatures, puts you at risk of frostbite. Avoid cotton and other fabrics that trap moisture, and go for high-tech materials that will keep you warm while allowing your skin to breathe.
Ideally, your base layer will consist of a long-sleeved undershirt in a breathable fabric like polypropylene.
Next, you should wear long johns and a long-sleeved fleece or (lighter weight) microfleece sweater.
For your outer layer, make sure you have snow pants suitable for trekking. Your jacket should be windproof and waterproof.
Remember to choose colorful clothing so you are visible against the snow.
When it comes to the hands, the right choice of gloves is crucial. Consider also that if you like photography and plan to capture the breathtaking views along your hike, you’re probably going to have to take off your gloves with some frequency. In this case you might want to wear two pairs: heavy gloves on the outside and thin ones next to your skin, so you don’t leave your fingers exposed to the cold and wind. This way, you’re also equipped for all the little things you need to do en route.
Now here’s where Garmont comes in: your feet!
First come technical socks, which should be thermal and breathable, and fit well between your foot and your boot.
The right choice of boot depends on your chosen hike and whether you’ll be using snowshoes or crampons: they should keep your feet warm and provide stable, rugged support.
For maximum readiness and the most enjoyable excursion, be sure to include the following in your pack:
– crampons, in case the going gets rough
– adjustable trekking poles, for stability and bearing your weight
– a hiking map
Take a break once a while to regain your strength. You’ll need a thermos with a hot beverage, nutrition supplements, and energy snacks to last you the duration of your trek.
Remember to bring ID and everything you might need just in case: a whistle, a flashlight, a lighter, a compass or GPS device, and a multipurpose knife should be in your pack.
You might also want to bring an avalanche transceiver, which emits short-range signals so rescuers can find you if you are buried in snow.
If the weather or other conditions are poor, it’s best to delay your excursion.
Mountains are both thrilling and complex: the risks and hazards are numerous, but with the right approach and careful planning, a trek can be an unforgettable experience.
So our last bit of advice is: have fun and happy trails!