Winter is coming, and with it, we must bear in mind that it changes the environment and the conditions for hiking through the mountains of the Pyrenees. Snow covers the trails, like rocks and meadows, and the landscape is dyed white. To be able to practice mountaineering, a great activity, and very healthy, it is surely important to take into account certain factors and possible risks.
Hiking – or snowshoeing – or progressing through snow, can be essentially dangerous, since we are exposed to slip on ice slopes, at temperatures that can be extreme with the risk of hypothermia.
We never have everything under control, and an unforeseen event can put us in difficulties- or the same fatiguing progression in snow-although we have rackets available in our equipment. For this, we tell you in this article what you need to carry in the mountain backpack before embarking on a winter mountaineering adventure.
Considerations Before Facing the Winter Mountain, Snow Progression Technique
Hiking or winter mountaineering – we refer to it in raw or extreme environments, such as the Pyrenees in winter – is within the reach of experienced mountaineers. Walking through the snow, even with snowshoes, can be a very rewarding activity, but in these environments, the weather conditions can change suddenly, and you have to know how to deal with it.
On the other hand, winter equipment will have to be handled: ice ax or crampons case, for which it will be necessary to know the snow progression techniques with them.
Mountain Clothing for Winter Conditions
There are certain things that you have to take into account and that is unquestionable: you will need proper mountain boots, as well as snowshoes -or weather inclemencies- and in the backpack, we will include the basic, but essential, that you will need in your route.
Everyone who practices winter sports is aware that it is much more practical to wear several layers of clothing than a very thick one. It is the so-called “three layer principle” of snowshoes because it allows you to take off and put on your clothes depending on the cold you have and, in addition, cold air-insulating airbags are created between your clothes.
The inner layer is the one that is in contact with the body. These are the inner shirt and thermal pants. In the intermediate, enters the fleece and sweaters, and the last is formed by the two items that will be in contact with the outside, jacket and pants, so they have to be breathable and waterproof.
When we start the march, our body will adapt to the temperature and the external climate, so we have to keep in mind the possibility that, with the movement, we are on some layer.
However, it is always advisable to carry it in your backpack even if you think it will not be necessary, since in the early hours of the day and at night the temperatures usually drop, and the weather can change drastically at any time.
We can not forget to cover our heads and hands properly. Both the cap and gloves are essential, as they protect areas very sensitive to cold. Be careful and do not leave these clothes in the snow, as they can get wet and will be very unpleasant when putting them back on.
A detail that goes very unnoticed is that the head, in addition to the cold, is in constant exposure to the sun throughout the activity. The effects of insolation end up noticing at the end of the day, unpleasant sensations that we can avoid with a simple cap.
One of the most important facts in any sport is footwear, but when it comes to mountaineering, it is much more. It is essential that you get correct mountain boots, comfortable, waterproof, and insulated from the cold.
The feet are our support 24 hours a day, and inappropriate shoes can do a lot of damage and spoil the rest of the activity, so it pays to spend a little more money. The main thing is security. Carrying a pair of spare socks is not too much for what may happen.
When it comes to mountain backpacks, it is important that they have a proper design and that they are resistant to water and snow to some degree. In case it is raining – or snowing – it should protect the contents, keep it dry.
Also, it is not about how beautiful or simple it is, it is about that, depending on its shape and subjection, it may prevent us from moving safely and without discomfort.
Accessories and Recommendations
In addition, you can wear glasses that will protect your eyes from direct sunlight but also from the reflection of it in the snow. In fact, although it may seem like a joke. We recommend that you protect your face with sunscreen – for high exposure – because the solar radiation you are exposed to is double: the sun’s rays and those reflected from the snow.
In winter we should consider carrying a survival kit, which cannot miss elements such as a thermal blanket-item that can save us from serious problems if there is any unforeseen in our activity.
On the other hand, many practitioners of this type of sport completely forget the importance of the kit. You do not have to carry many things, but you do have the essential elements like band-aids, bandages, anti-inflammatory medicines, and something for wounds, like, for example, iodine.
Likewise, it is always safer and, besides, fun to be accompanied. Planning this type of activity among a group of people will make you enjoy time together, help each other and together you can guide yourself better.
For this same reason, it is necessary to know how to orient oneself, understand the maps, and have a minimal idea of which references you can take along the way. If any of the members have done the same route before, it will be much easier to be guided.
Check the weather previously. The risk of hypothermia in extreme conditions such as the winter mountain is there. On the other hand, it is clear that it will be cold, but if we can prevent rain and storms, much better, right?
Also, the fog will make the vision very difficult and, therefore, the road. And if even making sure that the weather will be good, begins to break down halfway, it is better to turn around and come back another day. Do not worry, the mountain will not move from its place, and you can surely find another hole in your agenda.
Last but not least, it is very important to know our own limits. If we feel tired or the altitude and snow make it difficult to walk, it will be necessary to stop and rest for a while or slow down -or turn around-. It is not a competition, on the contrary, it is an activity dedicated to the enjoyment and to have a pleasant time.