Essential Tips for Trekking in Winter
As trekking in winter is gaining popularity, there are plenty of stunning winter treks to choose from. However, it is a bit difficult to trek in winter due to low temperatures and a significant amount of snow on the trail. Nevertheless, if you are well prepared then trekking in the sparkling white winter landscape will be a great adventure. Trekking on snowy trails doesn’t only require a good fitness level but also proper gear for the cold and snow conditions is important.
These essential tips will help you enjoy your winter trek and stay comfortable on the trail.
1) Check Weather Conditions
Weather in winter months can quickly turn from good to bad with heavy snow, strong winds, blizzard, and poor visibility. Thus, it is always recommended to study the weather forecast before you go on a winter trek. Knowledge of weather forecast and wind speed will help you layer up accordingly, therefore, helping you to stay warm and snug during the trek.
It is also important to know if the entire trail is covered with snow, the condition of the snow – soft, deep, firm or icy, and if the terrain is steep.
2) Layer Up
Regulation of body temperature during winter trekking is important. This can be achieved by layering up with good quality clothes. The right way to layer-up starts with a base layer followed by an insulating mid-layer such as a fleece jacket and finally an insulating protective outer layer such as a down jacket. All layers of clothes must be of quick-dry material. Since you sweat a lot while trekking even during winter, the wet condition of clothes will conduct heat faster. The outer insulation layers must be lightweight as heavy jackets will slow you down by putting extra strain on your muscles leading to loss of energy. For the lower body, it is recommended to wear quick-dry soft shell pants which will protect you from the chilling winds and keep your lower body warm. Additional gear such as gloves, warm socks, hats, etc. is a must since the heat from your body tends to dissipate from the extremities. Invest in good quality products since they last longer and provide better comfort.
3) Proper Footwear
Winter trekking demands a different type of footwear, unlike summer treks. It is imperative you wear a pair of good quality ankle-length waterproof and breathable boots which will prevent snow from entering your shoes and this keeps your feet warm and dry. A shoe with good grip is needed to ensure proper friction on a snow-laden trail. Boots with a rigid sole will help the microspikes and gaiters to stay attached thereby helping you to walk better on snow and ice. Insulated boots will provide extra warmth in case of severe cold conditions.
4) Importance of Hydration
Consequently, lower temperatures and sweat rates in winter will make you consume less water when compared to summer months. However, it is important to stay sufficiently hydrated. The loss of fluids in the body is directly proportional to a decrease in energy and performance. It is advisable to carry water in insulated bottles as it is not a good practice to have cold water in winter weather. Try your best to consume warm water wherever and whenever possible. Drinking a significant quantity of water on harsh and high altitude terrains also helps you in acclimatization and prevents mountain sickness. So do not forget to hydrate yourself in winter treks.
5) Possibility of a Turn Around
With winter in the mountains comes bad weather, unexpected heavy snowfall and consequently exhaustion. When you are unable to anticipate all these factors for various reasons you might have to decide to turn around due to low visibility and strong bone-chilling winds. This will be a smart decision, we assure you. Deep snow and slippery conditions of a snowed trail will lead to exhaustion and fatigue. Forcing yourself to continue under such dire circumstances will prove to be dangerous. Thus it is recommended to stop from moving any further and turn around. But this decision will be best taken by the trek leader or the guide who has a great deal of experience and expertise when it comes to trails in the mountains in the winter months which is not the same as summer months. If the conditions of the snow have changed from being soft to hard-packed slippery snow then you will have to turn around provided you do not have the appropriate gear to deal with such conditions which otherwise end up being dangerous.
In such a case, it is understandable to be disappointed but remember it is better to be safe than sorry.
Now that you know how to best prepare for the upcoming winter treks, we assure you it will be a blast and an experience to cherish forever.