Hiking has become a trendy leisure activity: physical exercise in the fresh air is good for your body and has a positive effect on your mind too. It doesn’t matter whether you‘re a pleasure hiker or you prefer sporting tours: good preparation and suitable equipment are essential for any mountain tour. We’ve put together the best tips for your next mountain tour.
Those out and about in the mountains are exposed to the influences of nature: the weather in the mountains can, for example, change at any time. If the path leads over alpine meadows, you quite often come across grazing cattle in summer. It’s also helpful to know how to deal with cows & co. as well as what to do in an emergency. Our useful tips will prepare you well for your next hike.
1) No tour without planning
Plan you tour according to your fitness and that of your companions. That’s particularly important when hiking with children. Safety is top priority and those that enjoy a hike will have more fun. As you gain more experience, you’ll be proud of your progress with regard to difficulty, length etc.
When selecting your hiking route, you should not only be familiar with the duration and the length, but also the type of terrain and level of difficulty. Certain tours are mostly easy to hike, yet have one or two key sections, which might challenge children or beginners. In areas you are not familiar with, it’s also advisable to select routes, which are well-marked and signposted.
Also plan too according to the time of year and length of day. Best to stop for refreshment at an alpine hut after your hike than to be surprised by dusk and have to descend with poor visibility.
Tip: to save energy on longer tours, you can make your ascent easier by travelling up the mountain on the cable car. It’s also advisable to travel back down to the valley on the cable car if your legs are already tired at the end of your tour. The Gamskogel lift In Zauchensee is open until 20th September daily (weather permitting) from 9 am to 12 pm and from 1 pm to 4 pm.
2) The ideal equipment for your mountain tour
What should be in every hiker’s rucksack:
- Your mobile phone (fully charged or take a powerbank for recharging with you)
- Rain protection
- A warm piece of clothing
- Sun protection (cream, sunglasses)
- A head covering (according to time of year – cap or hat/headband)
- A first-aid kit with bandages, disinfectant, allergy tablets, glucose tablets, insect bite relief etc.
Your hiking clothing should ideally be made of breathable fabric, which allows water vapour to diffuse. In alpine terrain, sturdy boots reaching above the ankle and a solid sole with grip, are an advantage. They stabilize your foot, ensure good grip and protect you from stones and rock. According to the season and route, waterproof boots are recommended. If you have purchased new walking boots, wear them a few times around the house before your first tour, to see if they rub anywhere.
Tip: hiking poles help with stability and balance whilst hiking and can be helpful for beginners. Make sure the poles are height adjustable, so that you can adapt them to the terrain or carry them in your rucksack.
3) Check the weather
Before starting out on your tour be sure to check the weather forecast for your hiking area the day before and again in the morning – on the internet, via weather apps, in the newspaper or in any other way. Forecasts of more than 3 days should generally be treated with caution: weather in the mountains can often change quicker than forecasted. Above all in summertime, danger of thunderstorms can be underestimated. During your hike take note of clouds, wind and temperature. If you notice a big change, it’s wiser to change your route or to end your hike and turn back early.
Tip: find out about the weather in Zauchensee daily on our website.
4) Pack plenty of food and drink
The most important thing is to drink plenty during your hike. If your body is dehydrated, your concentration level sinks resulting in headaches, dizziness and exhaustion. The danger of making a wrong step or judging a situation unwisely increases. Paricularly in the mountains this can have a dramatic effect. According to temperature, difficulty and length of your tour you should have at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water or diluted juice with you per person.
So you don’t run out of energy along the way, you should take quickly digestible snacks with you. So as not to overload your stomach, try to replace a big meal with several smaller snacks. For short tours, for example, fruit muesli bars, dried fruit or a mixture of nuts according to your preference are best. On longer tours of more than three hours, a packed lunch high in carbohydrates is recommended – for example wholegrain bread with cottage cheese, cheese slices or lean ham. In addition, vegetable sticks (carrots, cucumber, kohlrabi, radishes, peppers…) with a tasty dip, such as home-made herb quark or hummus add variety.
Tip: aluminium or Tupperware lunch boxes, resealable plastic bags and reusable drinks bottles are ideal for transporting your packed lunch handily and hygienically. Please ensure you take fruit skins, tissues, empty packaging, plastic bottles or drinks cans with you to dispose at home. Here you can find out more about sustainability whilst hiking.
After your tour it’s important to top up your energy levels and to eat and drink something. Here in Zauchensee the Gamskogelhütte with its large sun terrace is the perfect spot for recharging your batteries. Let’s be honest: seldom does a glass of cool apple juice, a snack platter with crunchy farmer’s bread or home-made quark strudel taste better than at a mountain hut after a hike.
5) Take note of footpath markings
Tourist resorts, Alpine clubs and lots of voluntary helpers invest time and energy every year to keep footpaths open and to ensure clear markings. Why? So that orientation and safety are ensured for every hiker. Thanks to signposts you also learn whether it’s an easy (blue), medium-difficulty (red) or difficult (black) path is and how long you need. Along marked trails you are to a large extent protected from rockfall and landslides and the susceptible terrain and plants in the mountains are preserved from being over-trampled.
6) Alpine meadows are not petting zoos
Grazing cattle live naturally on alpine pastureland. Cows, horses, sheep and goats therefore defend themselves if something doesn’t suit them. That could be hikers which get too near to them or their offspring or dogs setting off their flight or defence reflex. Therefore: keep your distance, keep dogs on a lead, walk past quickly and avoid eye contact. Find out more about dealing with grazing cattle here.
7) In case of emergency
Accidents can always happen. In any exceptional circumstances: keep calm, provide first aid, stay with injured persons and keep them talking. At the same time, notify the emergency services or ask other hikers to get help at the next alpine hut or cable car. You should note the following emergency telephone numbers:
140 – Austrian Mountain Rescue. In the event of an emergency the control room will dispatch the required mountain rescue (air or land rescue team). Important: stay where you area and follow the rescuers‘ instructions.
112 – Euro Emergency number. This emergency number is available on every mobile phone Europe-wide, you don’t even need a SIM card. The call is free of charge, functions in any mobile network (no matter which regional provides) and your phone does not even have to be unlocked. When you dial this number you automatically reach the next emergency control room, in Austria the next police station. Please note: don’t hang up until you are given the ok to do so by the rescue services!
Using this check list you’re well prepared for big and small adventures in the mountains. We wish you lots of fun on your next hike in Zauchensee!
Photo credits: Zauchensee Skiparadies