Safety and a fun experience are top priorities in the mountains. At its core, safety means the adherence to important rules of conduct and instructions, as well as accurate tour planning and adequate equipment.
As an outdoor sport, hiking in the mountains offers great opportunities for health, community and adventure. Following recommendations by Alpine clubs makes hiking in the mountains as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Hiking in the mountains is an endurance sport that is good for the both the heart and the circulation, as long as the participants are healthy and realistically assess their physical shape. While hiking, avoid time pressure and choose your pace so that nobody in the group gets out of breath.
A few simple steps help you reduce your risk:
Hiking maps, guide books, experts, and the internet provide information about hike length, altitude difference, difficulty and current conditions. Always tailor tours to according to group fitness! Pay particular attention to the weather forecast, as rain, wind and cold increase the risk of accidents.
Hiking in the mountains is not the same as walking. Careful preparation is critical for ensuring a safe mountain hike and protects you from unpleasant surprises. The following checklist will help you gather the relevant information:
|Are you well informed about the difficulty, distance and altitude?||Are there any old snow fields along the route?||Do you have proper footwear for the tour?||Is the weather forecast appropriate for the planned tour?||Do all group participants know one another?|
|Does the tour require a good head for heights and sure-footedness?||Are you well informed about the trail conditions?||Do you have clothing to protect against cold, wind and rain is in your backpack?||Are thunderstorms to be expected during the course of the day?||Is everyone in the group up to the challenge of the mountain hike in terms of health and fitness - including the descent back into the valley?|
|Should you wish to return early, are there alternative trails or routes?||When is the last cable car to the valley?||In case of emergency, have you packed a first aid kit and a mobile phone?||Is there a cold front approaching? One capable of producing snowfall in the mountains even in summer?||Are all group members sure-footed with a good head for heights?|
|Are there places to stop for food or to refill water?||Have you packed a bivouac sack and headlamp for hikes lasting several days?||Is precipitation to be expected? If so, is there a danger of slipping?||Are there any children with you?|
|Should an accident occur, do you have insurance? Have you installed and tested the Tirol Mountain Rescue emergency call app on your Smartphone?||If temperatures are hot, have you selected a shady route?||Have you informed third parties about your tour destination?|
|Plan your time appropriately! Set off early - The risk of thunderstorms usually increases rapidly from midday in high summer; twilight comes early in autumn!|
Pack appropriately for your chosen tour and make sure your backpack is light. Always pack appropriate protection from the rain, cold and sun as well as a first aid kit and mobile phone (Euro-emergency call 112). For better orientation, consider using a map, apps or GPS.
For multi-day hikes, you will also need: sleeping bag liner (possibly hut slippers), toiletries, &towel, personal medication, charger for mobile phone
Sturdy hiking/mountaineering boots protect and relieve pressure on the foot, improving sure-footedness. Ensure yours are a perfect fit, have an anti-slip tread and are waterproof and lightweight.
The right boot is an important safety factor - but also a key factor for a positive experience hiking in the mountains. The wide array of hiking boots available allows you to adapt your footwear preference to your individual needs:
Falls resulting from slipping or stumbling are the most common cause of accidents! Note that maintaining too high a pace or tiredness can severely impair your sure-footedness and concentration. Take special care when descending and be aware of falling rocks!
What to do in case of an emergency?
Call the emergency service!more
The risk of losing your bearings, falling rocks, and falling increases in pathless terrain. Avoid shortcuts and return to the last known trail section once you have strayed from the path. Steep old snow fields are often underestimated and very dangerous!
Oftentimes shortcuts or alternate routes end up in rough, difficult terrain. Falling, getting lost or sometimes even a life-threatening night in a bivouac are the result. Accident statistics show that these emergencies occur particularly often in the autumn months when the days are already noticeably shorter. Likewise, at this time of the year and especially on the shady side of the mountain, mind the icy and slippery paths.
Exercise caution on old snow fields
where there is an acute danger of slipping and falling! Especially when the snow surface is soft, you may create tracks in the snow with your shoes. “Spikes," which are quickly and easily mounted on the hiking boots, reduce the risk of slipping. Caution: snow fields are more difficult to walk on when descending and crossing in comparison to ascending.
Different weather conditions alter the terrain every day. Properly assessing the safety of a given hike is at the sole discretion of each individual!
It is important to take time to relax, enjoy the landscape and socialise. Food and drink are necessary for maintaining performance and concentration. Isotonic drinks are the ideal thirst quenchers!
Keep in mind that hiking is not a competitive sport. Performance and competition, hecticness and stress stay have no place on the trails! By taking a short drinking break about every hour, we keep our circulation "on the go" and we can combine the supply of fluids with the enjoyment of nature. Additionally, if we treat ourselves to a muesli bar about every other break, we prevent a drop in performance due to hypoglycaemia. Even during the descent, it is best to take regular, short breaks to recover and maintain concentration.
We all know that variety and playful discovery are important for children. In passages where there is a risk of falling, an adult is only capable of looking after one child. Tours in exposed terrain that require long periods of concentration are not suitable for children.
"Our children do not accompany us into the mountains, we accompany our children." This formula is the ideal foundation for a safe, eventful day. As your proceed, it is important to allow enough time for active breaks and discoveries along the way. Forest roads are boring for children! Instead, look for interesting paths without overstraining them and ideally plan a loop hike with alternate exit trails if possible. A delicious snack and carrying a teddy bear in your own backpack may help provide motivation. If you are carrying small children in a child carrier, make sure that they are sitting comfortably, have enough to drink and are protected from wind, cold and the sun!
Small groups ensure flexibility and allow for mutual support. Prior to setting out, inform a responsible person of your intended destination, route and planned time of return. Stay in your group. Solo hikers beware: Even a small incident can become serious situation.
A group of 4 to 6 people are ideal when hiking in the mountains. For groups of 8 people or more, mountaineering tours quickly become chaotic undertakings. Moreover, the experience and recreational value also decreases within large groups. Absolute musts in the mountains: Staying together in the group, being considerate of weaker participants, and showing a willingness to suspend a tour if necessary.
The following help to protect the mountain environment: Do not leave any rubbish behind, avoid noise, stay on the paths, do not disturb wild or grazing animals, leave plants alone, respect protected areas and finally, use public transport or car pooling.
» Respect protected areas and sanctuaries harbouring plants and animals!
» Observe animals only from a great distance and do not pursue them under any circumstances.
» Do not enter areas of afforestation or young trees.
» Keep quiet and do not shout.
Please use doggie waste-bags and dispose of them in the next available rubbish bin in the valley to avoid polluting pastures and nature. Help to keep the hiking trails clean!
Nature is a precious. Please keep the mountains clean and do not leave any rubbish behind! After all, rubbish remains behind even long after you have gone!
|Hiking trails||- Easy - Wide and low gradient trails in the valley and adjoining forest - Dangerous sections are usually well secured or signposted - Marked and signposted||Walkers, no Alpine experience||- Outdoor/sports shoes - Weather appropriate clothing/shoes
|Red mountain trails||- Moderate difficulty - Such trails are often narrow and steep and feature some exposed places (danger of falling) - Have short secured sections or short sections with use of hands to support balance - Are marked and signposted||Surefooted, experienced mountain hikers||- Good physical condition - experience in the mountains is necessary to identify and assess risk in Alpine terrain/mountain trails - Mountain equipment - Good weather conditions|
|Black mountain trails||- Difficult - Mostly narrow and steep - Very exposed (risk of falling) - Have longer secured sections or climbing passages - Are marked and signposted||Surefooted mountaineers withAlpine experienceand a goodhead for heights||- Very good physical condition - Mountain experience is necessary to identify and assess risk in Alpine terrain/mountain trails - Mountain equipment - Alpine safety equipment sometimes needed - Good weather conditions|
|Alpine routes||- Pathless or with steps or climbing tracks - Free, unsecured Alpine hiking and climbing terrain - Glaciers - Usually neither marked nor signposted||Surefooted mountaineers withhigh-Alpine experienceand a goodhead for heights||- Excellent physical condition - Extensive mountain experience to recognise, assess and avoid alpine dangers - Climbing or glacier equipment - Safety and orientation equipment - Good weather conditions|
Hiking trails are signposted according to the Tirolean hiking and mountain trail concept with yellow arrow signposts and white location boards.
Contents of the signposts:
Difficulty; destination information; logos of theme trails and pictograms; walking times; trail number
Content info on simplified signposts: Difficulty; destination
Table of contents on the location boards:
Geographical name of the location; altitude in m; GPS coordinates; Alpine emergency no.
Estimated hiking times
Rule of thumb for estimating hiking time (for a medium sized group of 4 to 6 people):
approx. 300 metres of altitude per hour for the ascent,
approx. 500 metres of altitude per hour for the descent,
approx. 4 kilometres horizontal per hour.
The hiking time is calculated separately for the difference in altitude and the horizontal length. The value of the smaller walking time is halved and added to the larger value.
Example calculation for ascent time: A mountain trail of moderate difficulty extends over 1,200 metres of altitude (= 4 hours walking time) and 8 horizontal kilometres (= 2 hours walking time, is halved as the smaller value). Walking time for the ascent = 4 hours + 1 hour = 5 hours.
Please note that the information provided regarding safety in the mountains is a recommendation only on behalf of the Wilder Kaiser Tourist Association. All information is subject to change without notice.