Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trekking with Safety makes adventure real fun

Trekking has become an integral part of urban life today. Trekking is an adventure of sorts, where you pitch your stamina and endurance against nature. People from the cities often travel to remote locations to trek and explore new areas. Most of India's major cities have rocky terrain around them. And nowadays, even schools take children out on treks to nearby locations.

My heart feels low when I hear death news of trekkers around the Sahyadri. They die off Tikona.. They die off Torna .. They die off Vasota.. Its really unfortunate to die while clicking picture on the edge of fort wall. Its sad to die due to lack of information about the weather,path,depth of valley and trekking techniques.

All this is inspiring to me to write this blog about trekking safety and precautions. I have searched whole lot of online media available for trekking to compile this article. many trekking articles, blogs and sites has helped me to put this list about trekking safety .If following or reading my blog saves one life then it will be happiest moment in my life.

I am trekking since last 3 years and have worked in company of very experienced trekkers. As a professional trekker now and a InVenturer I will be covering every aspect of trekking that I know. Feel free to add yours by commenting the blog.

1. Know where you are going with help of maps,google,blogs,wikipedia or friends who have already visited.

2. Always travel in numbers which will reduce chances of any major accident. It will improve chances of rescue.

3. If you are traveling alone prepare yourself well with maps,water,energy bars,medic and a lot more things.

4. Start trek early in the morning which will reduce water requirements and weight to carry.

5. Take only those things that you need.

6. One of my friend taught me how to pack sack. Fold your cloths as you fold your sleeping bag and then put them into your sack. When your sack is filled put it on floor and check whether it fells.If it fells down then fill it again.

7. Less the weight you carry more you are comfortable and more you will enjoy the trek.

8. If possible always take locals with you for help in direction,carrying extra luggage,preparing food and lot more.

9. Locals do have exact knowledge of the area,geographic diversities,water sources.

10. Don't try be over smart and over daring on the edges of the forts.

11. These forts are centuries old, we can not predict its strength at edges.

12. Always wear full trousers and full shirt. It will reduce chances of snake bite, bees attack and other jungle threats. It will also reduce sunburn.

13. Always carry first aid kit.

14. Choose your shoes wisely. Good grip and light weight is good combination.

15. In Sahyadri most time BSNL gives good coverage. I know two such accidents where the trekkers called police after the accident and were saved. So I personally think that you should have one BSNL card.

16. If you are going out in forest area in Monsoon or just after it then beware of leeches.

17. If you are trekking in forest reserve then before sleeping do make fire which will last for whole night besides you. It will keep most of the creatures away.

18. While swimming in the water tanks on the fort be very careful. Make sure that everybody knows that you are swimming. Try not to swim deep in the tank. Just swim on the shore.

19. There is lots of information available online on how to fix the rope, how to give belay,how to make body harness from rope, how to tie different knots and much more. Do go through all or most of it.

20. Don't walk alone. Accidents do happen even to experienced and strong people. Be sure that if one happens to you, that someone is with you to immediately get help. If you are leaving your companions, even briefly make sure they no where you are going and someone waits for you to return...this includes going off in the forest for a call of nature.

21. If you are part of a trekking group, make sure that the Guide or Group Leader knows your plan and ask that a Porter accompanies you. Listen to advice. Ask about the trail ahead. Don't go, if the Guide or Group Leader tells you it is not safe to do so.

22. Always have at least a light jacket and some small snacks in your pack. The jacket is helpful when you stop for a rest as you will cool down quickly. An "emergency blanket", the lightweight, foil reflective type would have been very useful in making a shelter to reflect heat from the fire or simply wrap around her body.

23. If you are part of a group and feel that you must have some personal space and private time on the trail...make sure that you do not go ahead of the leader.... and know who is at the back of the group (support staff member) and make sure you do not get behind that person. If your Guide or Group Leader does not suggest this type of an arrangement....ask them. Everyone in the group should be aware of the guidelines (safety rules) recommended for the group's management. Don't perceive these guidelines to be limiting your personal freedom....they are for your safety and the safety of other group members.

24. Remember when one person fails to be guided by safety standards, they put others at risk who are part of the search and rescue team.

25. Always carry pocket knife , matchbox,water-purification tablets,torch and a compass for all your treks. You may never know when you will need it.

26. Always take near by police station and ambulance numbers.

27. When trekking, always watch where you are placing your feet. This will minimize the chance of stepping on a loose rock and spraining an ankle or stepping on a snake that's too lazy to get out of your way - It happens!

28.Many people are unaware that snakes are actually deaf. They can tell that something is coming their way by the amount of vibration that they feel through the ground. If you are in an area where you think that snakes might be active, do them the courtesy of letting them know you're coming by walking a little heavier. Just as a safety precaution a snakebite bandage should be carried in a pocket for quick access. You know what they say about Murphy's Law - The day you haven't got it is the day that you'll need it.

29. Think of your body as a kind of a vehicle. You will need to tune it, modify it, and fit it out with aftermarket accessories to suit off road conditions.

30. Choose a walking pace that you feel you could comfortably keep to for an hour. Try to keep to the same pace and try not to vary your speed unless absolutely necessary. Remember it's not a race.

31. Try to synchronize your breathing. Breath in for two steps, breath out for two steps and so on. If this method works for you it will take you a lot further and use less energy. Your body will function a lot more efficiently.

32. Aim for regular rest breaks. A good rule of thumb is one ten minute break at the end of every one hour of trekking. If you are in a rhythm and are reasonably fit this should be ample.

33. Never underestimate the power of nature. There is a fine line between a friendly stream and a deadly torrent. This subject could be covered in great depth and eventually we'll provide a more comprehensive version, but for the time being here are a few points to keep in mind: Decide where you are going to cross based on your view from a vantage point or by consulting your topographic map.

The widest part of a river can often be the safest because this is where it is often shallowest and slowest.

If you find a dry crossing beware of slippery moss covered rocks and logs.

Don't underestimate distance if you have to jump.

Undo the harness of your pack to enable a quick escape if you fall in.

If you have to wade across, try to face upstream as it will be much easier to keep balance.

Use a strong stick or trekking pole to keep balance while crossing.

It is usually better to keep your boots on. Crossing a river barefoot over slippery submerged rocks can be both dangerous and EXTREMELY painful.

34.Trekking - Gear check list

The following is an extended checklist. It includes all the gear that you are likely to need. Of course if you were to carry it all your pack would probably weigh a lot more than you would prefer. The idea is to select from the list the items that you are most likely to need and leave the rest at home. This list signifies the importance of having compact, lightweight gear. The lighter and more compact your equipment, the more you are able to carry and consequently, the better prepared you will be to handle any given situation. This is particularly important if you plan to do multi-day solo treks.

Experience is always the best teacher. Eventually you will refine the list below to suit your own individual system.

NOTE: Items that are marked with * may be considered optional if alternative equipment/methods are being used or only required in specific situations such as cold climates etc. The equipment list below is a guide only and commonsense should prevail when packing for a specific outdoor adventure.

Personal clothing

* Hiking boots
* Hiking socks
* Trekking pole/s *
* Underwear
* Hiking pants
* T-shirt with wicking qualities
* Fleece Sweater
* Wind stopper jacket
* Gore-Tex pants & jacket
* Hat
* Shorts *
* Gaiters *
* Fleece pants *
* Vest *
* Beanie *
* Gloves*
* Thermals: Top, pants, gloves, socks, balaclava *

Personal gear

* Rucksack/backpack
* Weatherproof pack cover
* Tent - can be shared
* Sleeping mat
* Ground sheet/footprint
* Sleeping bag
* Sleeping bag liner *
* Inflatable pillow *
* Mug
* Knife, fork, spoon
* Food
* Bag for rubbish
* First aid kit
* Swiss army knife
* Head torch
* Spare batteries & globes
* Water bottles - 4X 1ltr
* Sunglasses
* Sunblock SPF 30+
* Insect repellent - tropical strength
* Sewing repair kit
* Toothpaste & toothbrush
* Toilet paper
* Toilet trowel
* Water purification tablets *
* Trek towel *
* Camera & accessories *

Group gear

* Fuel stove & service kit
* Fuel
* Matches in waterproof container
* Cook set incl. pots, bowls & plates
* Tea towel/s
* Topographical map/s
* Compass
* Track notes/guide book
* Waterproof map case
* GPS *
* Mobile phone *

35. Building a fire in the wrong place will not only destroy the surrounding plants, it will also destroy the living organisms and microbes that live in the soil beneath, rendering that patch of soil useless for supporting plant life for a long time afterward. In addition, the natural beauty of the area is also scared. A good place to set a camp fire is on sand or gravel. This will have minimal environmental impact and when you've finished with it and the fire is completely extinguished simply scatter the ashes and cover the site with the existing sand or gravel. There will be little if any evidence that you were even there. A flat rocky area also makes for a good fire place but cover the rock with sand or gravel first. When you are finished, simply tidy up what's left and wash the area down with water to remove any unsightly evidence that someone was there.

36.Toilet facilities

This can be one of the most daunting activities to the first time trekker/bush camper. In fact it is responsible for preventing many would-be trekkers from taking up the sport in the first place. Some people just can't cope with the thought of 'squatting in the bush'. In all honesty though, it's no big deal and is a requirement of nature that the human mind soon becomes very comfortable with. You would be surprised just how quickly you adapt. It is sad that many people refrain from entering an activity like trekking because of this requirement of nature. As this is an area that some newcomers can find embarrassing to talk about we are more than happy to answer any 'anonymous'

Research seems to indicate that many newcomers are concerned about losing balance while making a contribution. If you have concerns in this department try choosing a site with a small tree close enough to use as a 'hand rail'.

On a more serious note, disposing of your contribution must be carried out in the correct manner. Using a small trowel, pre dig a hole about 15 to 20 cm deep. If there are no fire bans in place any toilet paper should be burnt and the hole filled in. Calls of nature should be answered well away from walking tracks and at least 100 meters away from water courses to prevent contamination.

37.What your carry in must be carried out. Take all rubbish what you make with you to your home. Do not spoil nature.

38.How to choose a good, safe camp site

Each year campers and trekkers around the globe are injured or worse due to inexperienced decisions regarding camp sites. There are a number of things to look for in a possible site that will help ensure that you have a safe and comfortable stay.


If you were to get a downpour overnight does the site have sufficient runoff?

River banks

If camping near a river are you situated high enough to account for a sudden rise in water level? Flooding in areas hundreds of kilometres away can cause sudden water level changes much further downstream.

Below cliffs

If camping below cliffs ensure that there is an overhang that will deflect any falling rocks.

Among trees

Camping under trees can be particularly dangerous. News articles have in the past published headlines like "Freak accident - camper killed by falling tree while sleeping" Sadly these are rarely 'freak accidents' but are more likely to be 'accidents waiting to happen'. Inexperienced outdoors enthusiasts often make the mistake of forgetting to look up before pitching. If there is any chance of a tree or tree branch falling on your tent move somewhere else. You are not in a good, safe camp site especially if it's windy

Open exposed areas

These are not ideal campsites due to the possibility of high winds but if you need to camp in such a place ensure that your tent is securely guyed down. There is nothing worse that having to crawl out of a warm, comfortable sleeping bag in the middle of the night to secure your tent.

Getting acquainted with the locals

Before setting up camp it pays to have a good look around to see if any 'locals' have already claimed the spot. Wasps, mosquitoes, leaches, bull ants are among the many species that can make your stay a miserable one. Before getting too comfortable it might be a good idea to boil the billy and observe the prospective site over a mug of brew. A more suitable site may be just a short distance away.

Coastal camp sites

At the risk of stating the obvious, when camping by the ocean be sure to camp above the high tide mark. You would be amazed at how often this is overlooked.

"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it" (Viktor Frankel)

For any queries and suggestion feel free to contact me.

Shridhar Purandare

1 comment:

  1. egli vero comfort è dato dalle piccole cose piccole , non per le cose di lusso...........Viaggi Rajasthan & Trekking in Ladakh



If you would have some suggestions and comments please express them here ....


Trekking Search Engine

Custom Search

Get notified of my adventures .....