Friday, 26 March 2010

How to overcome the challenges of hiking in the mountains

Mountain hiking is, for most hikers, an exciting prospect because of its challenging terrain and beautiful views. You get a huge sense of satisfaction after a successful mountain hike.

The Mountain Environment

The climatic zones in mountains present a huge challenge to hikers. At high altitudes, the temperature falls and precipitation is likely. Not all mountain ranges are the same. Some are predictably sunny in certain months of the year and some are rainy. Some mountain ranges have thunderstorms and some are have unpredictable weather.

Weather patterns in mountains are usually well documented and researching your destination before you set off is a good thing to do. You may find that above the treeline that conditions can get worse with fierce wind, blinding sun and no shelter. Sunglasses or goggles and sunscreen are indispensable this high up in the mountains.

As you go up to higher altitudes it's important that you slowly acclimatize your body and be aware of the decreasing temperature.

Mountain Hiking Season

Mountain hiking in most parts of the world is only suitable during summer. In hot tropical climates, the cool temperatures in the mountains is a good getaway from the heat and they may even be snow-covered throughout the summer.

In most areas, the mountains may start to lose snow in late spring or early summer and begin to build up again in autumn. However, some mountain ranges have snow all year-round and summer blizzards may even occur in some occasions. The further away from the equator, the shorter the hiking season.


When hiking across fields of snow and ice you need special skills and equipment like an ice axe and crampons. In late spring or early summer, melting snow from glaciers and snowfields fills rivers and streams making them difficult to cross safely.

The Challenges in Mountains

Mountain hiking is physically challenging to hikers no matter what age or ability they are. If you want to go mountain hiking you need to get yourself in good physical shape. If you have trouble breathing or your lungs are not in good shape we advice that you don't go mountain hiking especially without special equipment.

A heavy backpack and long climbs make hiking quite challenging. Slow progress is expected as you walk at most half the speed you do walking on a flat surface. And speaking of backpacks, your backpack will also be heavier as you need carry more equipment, clothing and food to survive the cold. Always carry one layer of warm clothing more than you think you need and bring a balaclava or two along with you. You'll be glad you did.

But if you do decide to get in shape and confront the challenges of mountain hiking the sense of achievement when reaching a summit is incomparable and the memories will last a lifetime. You will also remember the friendship of the people you went mountain with and the bond will have gotten stronger.

Jonsky is an expert in camping gear and with over 20 years of experience hiking around the world. Especially loves hiking in the mountains. Be sure that you wear sunglasses because you will be more exposed to the dangerous sun rays high up. And balaclavas will help a lot in keeping you warm.

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