Deaths of solo trekkers in the mountains.

Pooja Dhiman

Last updated: 27-01-2018

We head to the mountains to be free, to walk amongst the clouds, and feel the cool breeze take all the stress away, see wildlife in their prime habitat and most importantly to feel alive. But this should not come at a price. I have been trekking in India from the past few months and my heart really sinks every time I hear a story of someone who died in the mountains because of reckless and stupid reasons. It makes me sad and it makes me extremely angry because those who died could have been saved, they did not need to's such a waste of life. My heart sinks for the souls I did not know, just because I am in love with these mad mountains and no one needs to die in such a beautiful space. 

Deaths of solo trekkers in the mountains.

Yes, trekking in the mountains is glorious, and challenging, it makes us feel victorious, like we can conquer the world. The phrase "on top of the world" must have originated from someone standing on top of a mountain. But keep your wits about certain things before heading out in the wilderness all by yourself, without proper trekking experience or understanding of weather changes or health hazards up at high altitudes. 

This is a shout out to all the solo trekkers, who are planning their next trek or expedition in the Himalayan region.

Deaths of solo trekkers in the mountains.

Watch out for the following so you can come back safe and share stories of your adventures with your friends. 

Remoteness and inaccessiblity: some of the coolest treks in India are in remote areas (like Markha Valley, Har Ki Dun, Stok Kangri, Roop Kund, Goecha La). Well, yes this is one of the prime reasons why we choose to go on these treks, but what you need to understand is that remoteness also means you have no way of contacting anyone for help, it also means that incase of injury or sickness no vehicle will be able to come get you. 

What should you do: 

Don't go solo. 

If you are an experienced trekker, always take a partner or be with a group on treks in such areas. Also, you don't need to go through a tour company if you think it’s an easy trek, but it is always advisable to hire at least a local guide. Local guides are well connected and in case of emergency, they will be your life saviors.

High altitude health hazards: you don't need to be a doctor to understand symptoms of certain extremely common health issues in the mountains. Do your research and have a good understanding of signs of Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO) and High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACO). A headache is not a headache at high altitude. It's a sign, and you need to be able to read these signs.

I recently went on the Markha Valley trek, during my conversation with one of the local guides we met along the way, I found out that a solo trekker died on the trail. On Day 2 of our Markha Valley trek, we had to cross a high pass (Ganda La) which stands at 16,300 feet. And because of rapid gain in altitude, there are chances of you getting a headache and feeling nauseous (both are signs of AMS). The trekker in question had AMS on top of the pass, and he made the mistake of finding a cozy spot, and taking a nap on the pass itself, which made his symptoms much much worse. He should have just descended from the pass as soon as possible and the minute he would have come to a lower altitude he would have felt much better. But he did not know that, nor did he have anyone around him to tell him what to do. And hours later he descended and crashed at the nearest homestay but did not make it through the night. 

What should you do: 

Do your research.

It's all out there. Don't go on high altitudes treks alone if you don't know how to prevent or treat AMS. And if you still have any questions, feel free to reach out to us and we will guide you.

Weather changes: My first lesson up in the mountains was that "Mumbai ka fashion and pahado ka mausam kabhi bhi badal jata hai". If you are not a native Hindi speaker, what it means is the weather is extremely unpredictable in the mountains. It could be sunny at one point, and you could get hit by a snowstorm minutes later. And if you are not experienced, your first reaction would be to panic and you can't afford to do that in the mountains. 

What should you do: 

Know the trail inside out.

The change in weather should not come as a surprise to you. You need to be able to read the weather and know when to turn back. The success of your trek or expedition is counted when everyone returns back safely. 

Drinking alcohol at high altitudes: This is the most stupidest thing you can ever do to yourself at high altitudes. Why? Because you lose your appetite as you go higher up in the mountains so you eat much less (aka less energy) and because it gets chillier, you are obviously drinking less fluids than you should be having. And what alcohol does is dehydrate you further. 

What should you do: 

Just don't drink alcohol.

Have plenty of fluids (water, hot chocolate, tea, orange squash) but avoid alcohol at all costs. You can party when you return back, and it will be worth it because you will be celebrating your successful journey. 

Knowledge is key: And lastly, and most importantly, know which treks you can go without a guide and which treks you shouldn't. For example, Triund is a beautiful trek that you can do without a guide, but we wouldn't advice you to do Stok Kangri or Markha Valley alone.


Life in the mountains is pretty thrilling and crazy beautiful but safety comes first. Go have epic adventures and make sure you come back safely to tell the tales. 

Happy trekking! 

Pooja Dhiman

I am a solo backpacker, a muay thai boxer and a mountain goat. I quit my job in April 2016 to go see Read more

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