Hiking rules


Weather conditions may change rapidly in the mountains, and being prepared is of the essential. Whether you are an experienced outdoor person or not, you would be wise to remember these codes of common sense in the mountains.

1. Be prepared

2. Leave word of your route

3. Be weather-wise

4. Be equipped for bad weather and frost

5. Learn from the locals

6. Use map and compass

7. Don’t go solo

8. Turn back in time; sensible retreat is no disgrace

9. Conserve energy and build a snow shelter if necessary

1. Be prepared

Be sufficiently experienced and fit for your intended tour. Practice hiking or skiing with a pack away from trails and tracks, even if conditions are poor. It’s then that you gain the experience needed for mountain tours. Use the equipment you are planning on using, this way you get to test it at the same time. Many membership clubs and local hiking teams across the country arrange exercise walking and other activities in the local area. This offers excellent practice for a mountain tour.

How far to walk each day

Your physical and mental fitness, your experience and your gear determine the sensible length of a tour. Consider the weather and conditions. When trekking for several days, don’t walk to far each day to begin with, but rather increase your daily route as the week goes on. Taking a day of rest might be recommended.

Plan ahead, and make sure to have a back-up plan

Carefully consider your route in advance. Do you have the possibility of breaking off early if the weather turns bad? Can the route be changed as you go along? Do you have the option of taking a day of rest? Is there a summit for you to climb if you feel up to it?

2. Leave word of your route

I just happened to change my mind…

If you change your route, please let someone know if possible. That way unnecessary actions of rescue might be avoided.

My route is from cabin to cabin

Many cabins, hotels and other lodgings have tour notification boxes in which you may put written notice of your tour route. In an emergency, the details you give will aid the rescue service.

The Norwegian Trekking Association often keep records in the cabin logs of where people are coming from and where they are heading to, but they have no set system as to making sure who reaches their destination. As a safety precaution, make arrangements with someone heading the same way as you, that way you can check in on each other.

Are you planning a days walk back and forth from the cabin you are staying at, you might benefit from discussing your choice of route with the other people staying there. Make note of where you are heading in the cabin log.

I don’t want to be tied down!

For those who prefer determining your own pace as you go along, try not to get caught up in arrangements that make others having to wait for you. In wintertime, make sure to carry the right gear to make a snow shelter. Even so, always tell someone your whereabouts, and let them know when you plan to be back.

I’ll call you from my cell phone…

Never rely on your cell phone when you are trekking in the mountains. Many rescuing team searches have been administered unnecessary due to someone’s phone having a flat battery or being out of reach from the cellular network.

3. Be weather-wise

An old adage advises that you should always be alert to forecasts of bad weather yet not rely completely on forecasts of good weather. Regardless of the forecast, you should be prepared for bad weather. Heed the forecast when planning your trip, always staying on the safe side. Prepare for the weather changing, and keep in mind that even a fresh breeze combined with sleet or frost can produce frostbite. In the mountains, weather might have sudden changes, occurring before or after what is forecasted. Weather forecasts aren’t sufficiently detailed to forecast local weather in mountain areas. Despite forecasts usually being right, it’s difficult to predict when weather will change. So you should heed forecasts in adjoining lowlands as well as in the mountains, and follow weather changes. In the Trekking Organizer from Norwegian Trekking Association you will find a five day weather forecast of the area by their cabins.

4. Be equipped for bad weather and frost

Always put more clothes on if you see approaching bad weather or if the temperature drops. Equip yourself with water-repellent outer clothing as soon as rain starts falling. It is essential you do this in time, or else cold, wet fingers, wind and frost might make it an impossible task. Help others put their clothing on too. In winter season, wear a roomy anorak on top of a warm sweater or similar, long wind trousers, wind mittens and warm headgear. In summer, rain clothes combined with a warm woolly jumper, a light woolly hat and wool mittens should be sufficient to protection you from the wind and rain.

When walking from cabin to cabin, be it summer or winter, an anatomically adjusted rucksack of medium size is your best choice. A 50-60 litre rucksack will provide you with space for what you need on a trip like this, and is well suited for carrying up to 12-15 kilos. When bringing with you food or a big sleeping bag you might need a volume of 65-75 litres. Bringing a tent or going on more extensive tours requires even more space. The larger, anatomically adjusted rucksacks (ranging from 70-100 litres), may be used for carrying loads up to approx. 25-30 kilos, while the framed rucksacks are best suited for the biggest and heaviest loads. Make sure to place the heaviest objects close to your back. Using a water-proof rucksack-cover or wrapping it in plastic bags will keep the contents dry.

5. Learn from the locals

Local people can often help you on your way by telling you distinctive characteristics of the area. Make sure to inquire the cabin managers, hikers familiar with the area, people you encounter while walking or any other persons you can think of when it comes to important questions about avalanche train, wind and snow conditions, good choices of route, or how long it should take to reach your destination. You also have the option of contacting your local association or the attended cabins situated in the area you are heading for.

6. Use map and compass

Always have and know how to use map and compass. Make sure your map is of the latest edition. Before departing, study the map and trace your route to gain a basis for a successful tour. Follow the map, even when weather and visibility are good, so you always know where you are. When visibility deteriorates, it can be difficult to determine your position. Read the map as you go and take note of points you can recognize. Rely on the compass. Use a transparent, watertight map case attached to your body so it cannot blow away.

7. Don’t go solo

First of all, you might enjoy the company. Secondly, you will then have someone there to give first aid or notify a rescue service in an emergency. If trekking alone, breaking a ski or spraining an ankle might make your outing unpleasantly challenging. Yet there isn’t always safety in numbers. A large party is inadvisable, particularly if its members are unequally experienced. A party never is stronger than its weakest member. Don’t ever loose touch with the group, even if you are walking ahead.

In not being on your own, you have the option of distributing weight and load between the participating members. In case of you being separated, make sure everyone has enough safety-gear, food and clothes to manage on his/her own.

8. Turn back in time; sensible retreat is no disgrace

If conditions deteriorate so you doubt that you can attain your goal, turn about and return. Don’t try to defy weather, as others may risk their lives to rescue you. If you start a tour in windy, uncertain weather, go against the wind. Then it will be easier to backtrack if need be.

If you change your goal, be sure to notify the cabin that expects you.

9. Conserve energy and build a snow shelter if necessary

The stronger the wind, the tougher the trekking. Suit speed to the weakest member of the party and avoid sweating. If you go in single file, turn often to ensure that the others follow, more so in bad weather when it’s hard to hear voices. Remember to eat and drink frequently. Physical activity increases the body’s need for liquid intake, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Insufficient food and drink lead to lethargy, and you can become discouraged. Start building a snow shelter before you are exhausted. A survival bag can provide emergency shelter.

REMEMBER: In time of emergency, the hardest decision is when to start making a shelter. Make sure to do so while you still have the energy!

With the proper equipment, you shouldn’t have any trouble spending a night or to in a snow cave or an emergency shelter. It is neither that cold nor unpleasant, in a safe setting it might even be quite comfortable and cosy. You still have to be prepared for when the need arises; practice building a shelter when you have surplus time and energy.


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