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Winter brings to mind all things cozy for most of us, like coffee and Christmas celebrations. But then there are a few, who, despite extra challenges or rather because of them, like to venture out to find beauty, goodness and adventure in the harsh snowy mountains in the winter season. With lesser influx of people, one gets to spend more time in peaceful solitude close to nature. As all good things come with an IF, this solitude and harsh weather can be a spoiler if necessary measures are not taken.
Beginners would do good to remember that the mountain air is extremely crisp and it requires the right kind of dressing-up, attitude and preparation to venture out for a trekking trip in these conditions.In order to make your winter Himalayan trek relatively stress free and a lot more fun, here are some Winter Trekking Tips for you that you must keep in mind and follow before taking this thrilling journey –
- Pre-trek preparations – Try climbing up and down the staircase vigorously every alternate day if you want to be trek fit this winter. It does the same wonders to the leg muscles as lunges and squats do. Additionally, daily brisk walks are a great way to maintain an overall fitness. Breathing exercises also help a great deal.
- Dress like an Onion – You will be well protected against the winter cold if you are well layered. Invest in good warm wear and gear like headlamps, trekking poles, ruck sacks, sleeping bags and insulated mattresses. Boots and gaiters are useful for treks in the snow. For the Chadar Ice Trek, special rubber boots are available in Leh. These can be used in combination with strap-on spikes.
- Work with the Sun – Weather gets moody, so start early before the sun gets a chance to make the hard snow turn soft and slushy. Post-holing is no fun!
- Know the handy stuff – Always change the round rings around the trekking pole from narrow to broader rings before you set out on a winter trek activity. It prevents you from sinking into the snow or ground.
- Look Out – Watch out for snow cornices which often form on the downwind side of the mountains. These are highly dangerous. Walking on cornices or directly below them should be avoided.
- Checklist of the important things – A few things if done can prove to be hazardous, such as giving anti-glare glasses a miss. You might get snow blind from prolonged exposure to UV rays reflected by the snow.
- Some extra pairs of socks – Your feet will thank you for keeping them dry and warm in such harsh weather. Also fresh socks prevent your feet from frost bite and blisters. An anti-fungal powder also comes in handy if running out of fresh socks.
- Stay hydrated – Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and result in hypothermia. Another tip is to pack your bottles upside down in your backpack. This is because water always freezes top down and keeping bottles upside down keeps the bottle neck free of ice.