A few years ago a man called Robin Boustead had a vision: to create a trail spanning the length of the entire Himalaya, from Bhutan in the east right through to Afghanistan in the west. Though there are some obvious practical and security issues with this, a route is roughly in place from Bhutan to Pakistan. The Great Himalaya Trail is out there and has challenged quite a few experienced hikers and mountaineers during its lifespan. Brave and bold as we like to be we decided to put it on the agenda, though not without a sound portion of shaky knees just from the thought of it.
2600 kilometres into my Te Araroa hike I arrived in Queenstown. From there, my companions and I decided to detour from the trail and include the famous Routeburn Track. At the Routeburn Flats shelter we encountered a young German, who with many gestures was explaining an admiring girl that he had walked up to Mount Luxmore, a peak along the equally famous Kepler Track. “And I did it so fast, I was back in Te Anau after only six hours. But me and my friend had a few girls with us, and they were so annoying. I never hike with girls anymore, they are always so slow.”
I felt my mouth fall open and I saw the same on PJ’s and Patrick’s faces. But instead of going all-in, I only said “But I’m faster than these two sometimes.” That’s it. Worse even, I shut PJ up from putting the German in his place. What I should have said was something to the likes of “My friend, I walked 2600 kilometres to get here and a few hundred Mount Luxmores in height. The Routeburn and Kepler Tracks are like a city pavement compared to where I came from. I’d like to see you bash through all that bush and come out of it without your tail between your legs.” But I didn’t. Why didn’t I?
Both times I went on a longer mountain tour in Norway I got close to having an accident that could have led to at least a serious injury. Both situation involved rocks falling or sliding in my direction. Knowledge on mountain safety is important for mountain hiking. Having the proper first aid equipment with you, carrying proper gear and knowing about emergency response procedures can make the indispensable difference on how bad an emergency situation turns out.
Finally! The short hiking season in the Scandinavian mountains is about to kick off. Time to let your boots get lost in the mountains and woods over snow-free trails, to enjoy summer evenings in absolute silence and to disappear of the grid for days or weeks on end. These mountain areas are wild. You can go on for days in a row without meeting a single soul, and the nearest settlements or roads are usually quite far away. Good preparations are essential for a pleasant and safe trip. Here is a short overview of how I plan and what I have on my hiking essentials list, a list that has been evolving up to the preparations for hiking in Sarek National Park, the thoughest hike I have in my personal history so far.
(photo by Karen Mitchell)
There are three essential components of preparing for the cold. When you go out, you need to have the right mindset, the right equipment, and the right way of using this equipment. One of my colleagues reminds his guest that when you want to avoid being cold, 30% of your success chance depends on having the right gear and 70% depends on how you are using that gear. Both for the guests and for the guides we have some high quality equipment to keep us warm. Together with some of my own gear, I am hardly ever cold on tour. Continue reading “Gear up for the Cold”