How to Stay Safe in the Mountains

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Whenever I set out to explore the tall, rugged, and handsome peaks of different mountain ranges, it is always humbling to feel my body struggle.

The mountains present many challenges both physical and mental. Whether delving into the Rockies in Colorado or the Alps in Switzerland, these challenges welcome all to see what so many have not. Preparation is key to concurring higher altitudes though. What I have learned is that a solid pair of hiking boots and a raincoat can go a long way in braving the elements. What I have also learned is there are more aspects to consider than just the elements.

Altitude:

There is 30% less oxygen at 7,500 feet and decreases even more the higher you travel. What this means is you need to be very aware of the capabilities of your body. Headaches and fatigue are the first typical signs of altitude sickness. To reverse the effects of the lack of oxygen, drink plenty of water. H2O is the magic liquid of the mountains. Drink plenty before you visit and buy yourself a water bottle upon arrival. Mountain water is better tasting than any you can buy in at a convenient store. It makes refueling a pleasure instead of  a tedious task.

Weather:

Weather in the mountains can be considered confusing. One minute it is 80 degrees and sunny while an hour later a storm moves in dropping the temperatures by 30 degrees. It makes packing incredibly difficult.  Pack as close to your trip as possible so you can get the most accurate attire for the weather. Bringing light layers will keep you warm and your pack light as well. Be prepared for all types of weather when heading to the mountains and always bring a raincoat.

Activities:

Mountain activities are much more difficult than the average sport. When researching your destination, look into the vivacious opportunities available before visiting. Not only will this help you pack, but it will also show you what the townspeople value. If there are more rafting companies than anything else, this is probably a river town. The chances of you meeting a local that is extremely acquainted with the ways of the river is highly likely. However, it may be in your best interest to pay for a guide on your first trip. Learning the basics will make it easier to stay calm when your new found river rat takes you backwards through class 4 rapids.

Wildlife:

If you have done any research about the area you are visiting, running across the local wildlife is inevitable. The majority of the animals you will find in town are harmless. You should learn how to act around them, though. Frightening a Black Bear can still provoke an attack despite their curious nature. Know what animals to expect on your hikes and what to do if you come across them. Being aware can help lower the chances of accidents happening. Remember to never feed the wildlife either.

From the untainted views to the lack of oxygen, any mountain adventure is nothing short of breathtaking. Preparing for the elements will keep the experience a memorable one instead of a haunting memory.

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About Author

Kayla Dome is a Colorado native and adventure advocate. She spends her summers exploring the mountains of Southern Colorado via zipline while sharing her knowledge as a freelance travel writer year round. Writing about Colorado travel on her blog, Locals of Colorado, Kayla lives for the beauty of the untainted lands of our world.

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