Many thrill-seekers and adventure junkies use long holidays as an incentive to visit and explore the Himalayas. And a few, amid the excitement, forget the most important thing to consider; weather. Weather can make or break a trekking experience, especially cold, winter season. Winter vacations are not as smooth as we all hope. A trek to the Himalayas during winter season means plenty of challenges, so trekking or hiking can be difficult, some times even dangerous. The best way to make your thrilling adventure a success is by taking enough precautions and being prepared mentally and physically. Adaptability and a positive mindset is the key.
It is good to be aware of weather conditions during a trek, but even more so in the winter months. You can pack a few essential things and dump as many unnecessary items to make your backpack useful and light.
Here are a few useful trekking tips and hacks, you can use to have a safe and spirited trek in the Himalayas:
1. Dress like an onion
Call it struggle for existence or everyday life hack, Himalayan people have a philosophy to live in the mountains i.e., to dress like an onion, in layers. Though it sounds corny, the aphorism is helpful when you are hiking or trekking uphill in the Himalayas. During winter, weather conditions can be challenging. Carrying a variety of warm and insulating clothes will keep cold chills at bay and help you have a comfortable journey. Always have an insulated jacket and waterproof pants in case of foul weather.
2. Trekking Course
When planning for your first hike to the Himalayas, don't go overboard, be reasonable and wise with your distance to cover during a trek. Talk to a travel expert before you start. Because sometimes calm conditions on a snowy mountain can turn into a nightmare. There can be avalanches, deep snow and snow craters that can ruin your trek. So choose the most taken trail to reach the target point. And always start the trek early in the morning and be off the trek before dark to avoid getting lost or having an accident.
3. Safety Gear
It is a must to carry all the staple safety items in case of an emergency. Besides hiking gears, it is vital to have a trail map, first aid kit, compass, Swiss knife, hand warmers, and a torch. While trekking, you can split some of the heavier items among the members in the group, to make sure you don't fall behind during ascent.
4. Check Weather Forecast
Though this is an obvious precaution, it is important to get a complete understanding of the conditions for your trip. Be aware of the wind speed, precipitation, and avalanche. With modern advancements, media, and resources, it is elementary to get weather forecasts for any place in the world. Do enough research, understand the weather conditions because it can get tricky in the night. Many have lost their lives due to hypothermia. And there is no shame in postponing the trip if the conditions are not suitable for trekking.
5. Use Crampons
Crampons are traction devices that are attached to footwear to improve mobility on snow and icy surface. And when the surface is dicey with ice, crampons can make a big difference. But before you try it on, learn how to use it because it is a delicate footgear. Try putting them on and taking them off to get used to it.
Take advise from a travel expert or an experienced friend on how to use it, before you start running in it down a snowy or icy surface. One wrong move can sprain your ankle or have severe implications on your body. Remember these are metal spikes attached to your shoes, used to tame the icy surface, so don't harm yourself taming your trail.
6. Always Have A Veteran Alongside
Hiking is fun with friends, and there's no denying that. But make sure you travel with an experienced friend who can help you in choosing the right gears for you and identifying dangerous conditions. If you are missing an item like a glove, hiking pole, or goggles you could borrow it from the avid winter hikers. And always inform at least one friend at home who knows where you're going.
7. Carry Beverages
The most common problem while trekking is dehydration. Always carry ample amount of water, to quench your thirst and to stay hydrated, during ascent. You can also bring some tea and coffee in a thermos to add comfort to your journey. A hot beverage can warm you up and provide a nice break from the hike. There's nothing like a hot coffee break to motivate you for the summit push.
8. Be Prepared To Turn Around
Well, getting to the peak is optional but getting down is mandatory. So, if you come across any condition while trekking that would cause a problem to you, stop and turn around. Because the Himalayas has always been there and it will remain there, you can revisit the place in the future. Nothing is more important than your own life. Reaching the summit may instill a sense of power in you, but that feeling alone will not help you to descent. It requires the same amount of time and energy to go downhill as uphill. So, make sure you focus on the entire trip, not just the ascent.