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Altitude Related Sickness is the bane of mountaineers, along with Frost Bite and Dehydration. But it can be prevented by following the measures written down below. Knowing them is the key to have a safe and hassle-free climb.

Acute Mountain Sickness, Altitude Sickness or AMS
Acute Mountain Sickness is also often called Altitude Sickness. The symptoms of AMS can be unpleasant enough to spoil your climb. In some cases, it also can be fatal. However, if you understand the cause of AMS then you can take many steps to avoid it or minimize its effects.

Atmospheric pressure and the oxygen content of the air decrease in an approximately exponential manner as altitude increases. This means that as you climb higher, the breath you take contains less oxygen. For most climbers, this effect becomes apparent at around 3000 metres.

Acclimatization is the resetting of your physiological mechanisms which allows the body to return oxygen levels in the tissues to normal or near-normal. As this process is not instantaneous, and when your rate of ascent is faster than the body's ability to adjust to the gain in altitude, AMS occurs. The symptoms of AMS can be unpleasant, serious, or even fatal. It is therefore essential that your own rate of ascent should allow for this adjustment. Keep in mind that there is a lot of variation between individuals, but each person's response to altitude is fairly constant on different occasions, given similar conditions and speed of ascent. 

Symptoms and Treatment
AMS develops usually in the first eight to 24 hours at high altitude. Below 3000 meters, it occurs less often: mild symptoms include headache, poor appetite, dizziness, drowsiness, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, and poor sleep quality. At this stage, you should stop your ascent. Rest, have frequent meals, take mild painkillers, and keep on drinking water. Do not take alcoholic drinks. If the symptoms worsen to severe headache and vomiting, stop your ascent and descent to a lower altitude where the symptoms abate after a day or two of rest. After that, you could resume the climb.

In its most severe form, high altitude sickness can progress to either Pulmonary Oedema (fluid on the lungs) or Cerebral Oedema (swelling of the brain).

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
Pulmonary Edema is a life-threatening medical emergency. It arises very quickly and has been known to cause death less than 40 hours after a rapid climb to 3000 meters. A warning sign is to observe the person who is the fittest in the group at the start of the climb. If that person's fitness decreases quickly as he or she climbs higher, then he or she might have contracted it. Another sign is extreme weakness going uphill.

Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms include blue or gray lips or fingernails, a cough with bloody or foamy sputum, shortness of breath, general weakness, and a gurgling sound in the chest. If these symptoms occur, then immediately descend to a lower elevation as soon as possible in order to take no risks. Pulmonary Edema can rapidly progress to coma and death if you keep on climbing. However, if you descend just a few hundreds meters, the symptoms will diminish rapidly. 

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
Cerebral Edema is the most serious sickness of the three mentioned above. Symptoms include a severe headache, staggering, and hallucinations, and the condition can lead to coma and death. It rarely occurs below 4200 meters. As with Pulmonary Edema, immediately carry the victim to a lower elevation.

Altitude Sickness Prevention

  • The best thing to do is to avoid AMS, HAPE or HACE


  • Slow Ascent

The most important thing is to avoid AMS by acclimatizing properly by a gradual ascent. A recommended rate of ascent is to climb no more that 500 meters a day over an altitude of 3000 meters. In addition, you could also take a rest day every third day. If this is not possible, because of the position of the huts or campsites, you could also do staging, where you remain at an intermediate altitude between 3000 and 4000 meters for an extra day before ascending any further.


Also, always sleep at a lower altitude than the highest point reached that day


Drink, drink, and drink some more! Although dehydration does not cause Altitude Sickness, it does decrease physical performance and the ability to generate heat. This will contribute to chilling and fatigue, which then could lead to Altitude Sickness, as well as hypothermia and frostbite. Drink at least 4 liters of water a day. Six liters is not too much




Diamox® or Acetazolamide
Acetazolamide or Diamox® is a medication that forces the kidneys to excrete bicarbonate, the base form of carbon dioxide; this re-acidifies the blood, balancing the effects of the hyperventilation that occurs at altitude in an attempt to get oxygen. This re-acidification acts as a respiratory stimulant, particularly at night, reducing or eliminating the periodic breathing pattern common at altitude. Its net effect is to accelerate acclimatization. Acetazolamide isn't a magic bullet; cure of AMS is not immediate. It makes a process that would normally take about 24-48 hours speed up to about 12-24 hours.

Acetazolamide is not recommended as a prophylactic medication, except under specific limited conditions outlined below.


Treatment of persons with AMS

Treatment of persons bothered by periodic breathing at night


Prophylactically for persons on rapid forced ascents (such as flying into Lhasa, Tibet)


Prophylactically for those persons who have repeatedly had AMS in the past

Most people who have a reasonable ascent schedule will not need it, and in addition to some common minor but unpleasant side effects, it carries the risk of any of the severe side effects that may occur with sulfonamides


Common side effects include numbness, tingling, or vibrating sensations in hands, feet, and lips, taste alterations, and ringing in the ears. These go away when the medicine is stopped. Since acetazolamide works by forcing a bicarbonate diuresis, you will urinate more on this medication. Uncommon side effects include nausea and headache. 

Myths about DIAMOX
Among climbers, there are a lot of myths about acetazolamide. Let's clarify these:


  • Acetazolamide hides symptoms

Acetazolamide accelerates acclimatization. As acclimatization occurs, symptoms resolve, which directly reflects improving health. Acetazolamide does not cover up anything - if you are still sick, you will still have symptoms. If you feel well, you are well.


Acetazolamide will prevent AMS from worsening during ascent


Acetazolamide will prevent AMS during rapid ascent.


This is actually NOT a myth, but rather a misused partial truth. Acetazolamide does lessen the risk of AMS, that's why we recommend it for people on forced ascents. This protection is not absolute, however, and it is foolish to believe that a rapid ascent on acetazolamide is without serious risk. It is still possible to ascend so rapidly that when illness strikes, it is likely to be sudden and severe, and fatal.


  • If acetazolamide is stopped, symptoms will worsen

There is no rebound effect. If acetazolamide is stopped, acclimatization slows down to your own intrinsic rate. If AMS is still present, it will take somewhat longer to resolve; if not - well, you don't need to accelerate acclimatization if you ARE acclimatized. You won't become ill simply by stopping acetazolamide.

What you have read are important information about Altitude Related Illnesses. Knowing the right thing to do during climbs lessens the possibility of such debilitating, even fatal Illnesses. Nothing beats the feeling of being on top of the world so climb slowly but surely and soon enough you will be looking down on the world below you. Don't let Altitude Related Illnesses spoil that experience.




First Aid - The Essential Basics

First Aid skills are very important to have in any extreme sports or activity which has an increased chance of injury. You should take the time to read the following sections to assure you have some basic knowledge about what you can and should do if you are confronted with a First Aid situation.

The Basics
There are a couple of ground rules when it comes to first aid and emergency situations.


  • Remain Calm and in Control

Do nothing to add further tension to the situation. The victim and the events will already cause a tense situation do nothing to add to the tension but try to calm it down instead.


  • DR. ABC

The letters in DR.ABC tell you the basics of what you should do in a First Aid situation: 


D – Danger

Check the danger and source of the injury inflicted to the victim. Make sure the danger has passed and the surrounding are safe. There is no use of becoming a victim yourself. Assess the situation.


R – Response

Check the Response of the victim by simply asking them how they are. If they can answer your question then that tells you that the victim is conscious, breathing and that the heart is working. If the victim is unable to response move onto the ABC:


A – Airway

Make sure that the victim has an open airway. Tilting the head back with the chin facing up will clear an airway.


B – Breathing

Make sure that the victim is breathing by looking at breathing signs, listening to exhales and feeling air coming out of the mouth or nose.


C – Circulation

Make sure that the victim has blood circulation. Check for a pulse and visual signs such as complexion and blinking of the eyes.


Send for Professional Help

If you are with multiple people assign one person to call for aid. If you have a mobile phone or other way of reaching the outside world, use it. Explain calmly and clearly the location of the accident and the condition of the victim.

After you have performed the Dr. ABC check you can further analyze the situation and act on the injury or condition. In the next sections, we will look at different kinds of injuries and how to treat them. 




First Aid - Bleedings & Applying a Tourniquet

Often bleedings look very serious and tend to cause panic both to the victim and to those trying to help. It is important to remain calm and comfort the victim. There are two kinds of bleedings: 


External Bleeding

Bleedings can be caused by numerous incidents and can range from a small cut to severed arteries.

Analyze the bleeding: 

  • Dark red blood coming out in a steady slow flow indicates a severed vein.

  • Bright red blood coming out in spurts or a heavy steady flow indicates a severed artery. This is a serious kind of bleeding as a lot of blood can be lost rapidly.


Do the following:

Place clean cloth over the wound and firmly apply pressure. If the blood soaks through the cloth do not replace it but add more cloth to the cloth already placed. Apply pressure for 7-10 minutes.


If possible, elevate the wound and position it above the level of the heart.


Apply pressure to a pressure point on a major artery using your fingers, hand or heel of your foot. Pressure the artery between your fingers and the bone behind the artery.


If all above methods do not stop the bleeding and there is a chance that the victim dies of blood loss apply a tourniquet (see details below).


Get the victim to medical professional as soon as possible.


Applying a Tourniquet

Find a strip of cloth, belt or another piece of flat flexible material that is at least two inches wide and is long enough to be wrapped around the limb twice. This will be the tourniquet.


Place the tourniquet just above the wound between the wound and the rest of the body. Wrap it twice around the limb.


Tie a half knot with the tourniquet. Place a stick or other straight object on top of the knot and tie a full knot with the stick or object.


Twist the stick to tighten the tourniquet around the limb. Keep on turning until the bleeding ceases. Secure the stick in place.


Do not loosen or remove the tourniquet until the victim has reached professional medical help


Make sure to write down the exact time the tourniquet was applied so medical professionals will know how long it has been in place. Do not cover the tourniquet and tell the medical professionals of its placement. To make sure mark a T on the forehead of the victim.


Stay with the victim and assure yourself that the victim does not go into shock or cardiac arrest.

Note: The use of tourniquets is NOT recommended in the UK first aid training world.


Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding is more difficult to recognize. Try to look for the following:


Vomiting or coughing up blood


Blood in the stools or urine


Blood from the ears, nose or mouth


Abdominal swelling and/or pain and tenderness in the abdomen


Pale skin


Excessive thirst


Possible restlessness, apprehension and mental confusion




Do the following:

Keep the victim lying down flat with the head elevated. If the victim needs to vomit turn the head sideways.


Keep the victim covered and warm


Check the victims vital signs and wait for the medical professionals to arrive


It is necessary to be able to assess the condition of a possible injury and what you can do if it happens when you go Snowboarding. These are some guides that could help you. In case of doubt consult the medical professionals and get help.



First Aid - Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

If you performed the Dr. ABC check as discussed in the First Aid Basics section and the victim is not breathing or has no heart beat then the victim needs Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR. Below we give a summary about CPR and performing it. These are the basics to CPR:



Make sure to call the paramedics, 911 or your country's medical emergency telephone number before starting CPR. The operator will probably be able to assist you in making the decision if you should attempt CPR and if so how to perform CPR.


Tilt the head of the victim back with the chin facing up and listen for breathing. If the victim is not breathing normally, pinch the nose and cover the victim's mouth with yours and blow untill you see the chest rise. Give 2 breaths of 2 seconds each.


If the victim is still not breathing normally, coughing or moving, begin Chest Compressions. Push down on the chest right between the nipples. Repeat this movement 15 times at a rate of 100 times per minute.


Continue giving the victim 2-second breaths and 15 chest compressions until help arrives. If other people are available then you could use a second person to either give the breaths or the chest compressions. In this way you can take turns and rest in between.




First Aid - Fractures & Applying Splints

If the victim complains about extreme pain at a certain area you should check for a fracture: 


Ask if the victim heard or felt a bone snap


Check if the victim is able to move the inflicted body part


Check for deformities


Check for swelling


Check for discoloration of the skin


If bone is sticking out of the skin then you are dealing with a compound fracture. Compound fractures are very serious injuries that may cause serious bleeding. 


Do not apply too much pressure to stop the bleeding


Cover the wound with a sterile pad or cloth if available


Do not push the bone back or try to re-align the fracture. Instead apply a splint to prevent further injury

Do not move the victim but wait for professional assistance. Keep the victim warm and comfort him/her


Applying a Splint

Find a rigid straight object that is longer than the bone and joint that you are going to support. You are going to be using this as the splint.


Cover any broken skin with a sterile cloth. Pad the splint with softer materials such as cloth.


Tie the splint to the injured limb using tape or rope. Make sure the splint is tight but not so tight that it cuts of blood circulation of the victim. Make sure the splint is applied in a way that prevents the limb from further movement or strain.


If available, place an ice bag over the splinted break area. Do not place it directly on the skin or wound but cover it with cloth.


It is necessary to be able to assess the condition of a possible injury and what you can do if it happens when you go Snowboarding. These are some guides that could help you. In case of doubt consult the medical professionals and get help.




First Aid - Frostnip & Frostbite

Frostbite occurs when body parts are exposed to extreme cold for a period of time. Toes, fingers, earlobes, chin, cheeks and nose run the most risk of frostbite as they are often not protected by clothing. When the body is exposed to extreme cold the blood vessels constrict. As the body part starts to loose warmth the fluid within the cells start to freeze and form ice crystals. These crystals cause the cells to rupture.

The best way to prevent frostbite is simply to stay warm. Make sure to wear proper Snowboarding Clothing using layers to stay warm and dry. If you are in a very cold environment check your body for numbness. Frostbite occurs in a couple of stages:



The skin feels stiff and numb and is white in color. Underneath the tissue is still warm and soft. The condition is not that serious, simply warm the body part by rubbing, moving and covering with extra layers of clothing. Frostnip does not require any medical attention. Check for frostnip often as it is the first step to frostbite.


Superficial Frostbite

After frostnip comes superficial frostbite. The skin is hard and frozen and looks white/blue. The tissue underneath the skin has not been affected yet. Superficial frostbite will cause blistering and medical attention is needed to prevent permanent injury.


Deep Frostbite

In case of further freezing the tissue underneath the skin will get affected as well. The skin is white/blue and totally frozen and the tissue is hard as well. Deep frostbite needs immediate medical attention. In severe cases deep frostbite can lead to permanent injury, amputation and even death.

Treating Frostbite

Get the victim away from the cold source as soon as possible and if possible take the victim inside. If possible take the victim to the emergency room as soon as possible.


Do not start thawing the affected area if there is a chance that the area may refreeze. Thawing and refreezing will cause severe tissue damage.


Immerse the affected area in warm water (40 degrees Celsius). If no warm water is available wrap the area in warm blankets gently. Do not rub the skin with your hands or other materials.


The affected area will feel numb so make sure that the victim has no control over the heat source. Do not let the victim determine the temperature of the water and do not use direct heat sources such as a fire or heating pad.


As the body part thaws feeling may come back causing a lot of discomfort to the patient. Make sure blisters remain untouched.


It is important to know how you should take care of yourself when you go out for fun and adventure. There are many possible situations that may occur. These are only some guides on how you can prevent them. In case of doubt consult the medical professionals and get help.




First Aid - Hypothermia

Hypothermia is serious life threatening condition that can occur to people who expose themselves to extreme cold too long. Prevention is simple: keep yourself warm and dry using layers and the correct gear for the activity you are going to undertake. Avoid exposing yourself to extreme temperatures all together.


First Aid Treatment

It is essential to call for medical professionals as soon as possible. The most important phase of treatment is the prevention of post-rescue collapse during the first 30 minutes following rescue, and during transportation to a medical facility:



A further cooling of core temperature occurs after the victim is removed from the cold environment. This after-drop is often responsible for post-rescue collapse.


Pre-hospital stabilization

Preventing respiratory heat loss and progressive cooling, of the heart through the tissues is essential. This cooling if not arrested, can lead to ventricular fibrillation of the heart. Patients who are unconscious, with a temperature below 30°C or 80°F, may not respond to defibrillation. Thermally stabilizing a patient with suitable equipment is necessary, both before transportation and enroute to the hospital to prevent additional cardiac complications.


Core rewarming

This is the most effective treatment for all cases of moderate to severe hypothermia, whether treatment occurs in the hospital or in the field.


Inhalation rewarming

As the only non-invasive hospital treatment suitable for active core rewarming in the field, inhalation rewarming donates heat directly to the head, neck, and thoracic core (the critical core) through inhalation of warm, water-saturated air at 43 - 45°C (107 - 122°F). This method also warms the hypothalemus, the temperature regulation center, the respiratory center, and the cardiac center at the base of the brainstem. In many cases, this rewarming of the central nervous system at the brainstem reverses the cold-induced depression of the respiratory centers and improves the level of consciousness.

Beside this strategic donation of heat, inhalation rewarming also eliminates Respiratory heat loss. This accounts for 10% to 30% of the body's heat loss. This is particularly important in rescue situations where the ambient air is cold.

In summary, inhalation rewarming is highly effective in providing "basic life support" through thermally stabilizing the core and brainstem temperatures. It is safe for treatment for all levels of hypothermia, but is particularly important for severe cases, because insulating alone (blankets), does not prevent further cooling of the core.

The first half hour during rescue is the most critical phase of hypothermia management. Avoid having the victim assist with their own rescue. Muscular activity by the hypothermic victim pumps cold peripheral blood from the arms and legs into the central circulation causing the core temperature to drop even further. Gentle handling is critical! A cold heart is particular susceptible to ventricular fibrillation, and some victims may suffer fatal ventriculation when jolted about during initial handling or transportation. 


Avoid Hypothermia by always keeping yourself warm and dry. Like any other medical problem, prevention is always a key.



First Aid - Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke

Our bodies are able to cool down using a system of sweating and radiating heat through the skin. In extreme conditions such as high temperatures, high humidity in combination with exercise can cause the body to be unable to loose all the heat. As heat builds up in the body heat illnesses can occur. Avoid heat illnesses by avoiding too high temperatures and body exercise. Assure yourself that you are drinking more fluids than you are losing.

Heat illnesses develop in the following stages:


Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are pretty innocent they occur as brief but severe cramps in the leg, arm or abdomen muscles. They are painful but not too serious. Cool down by resting out of the sun and drinking cold beverages.


Heat Exhaustion

If the heat continues to build up inside the body a person can suffer from heat exhaustion. Symptoms include dehydration, fatigue, weakness, headaches, nausea, vomiting and hyperventilation. Heat Exhaustion can get very serious. Get away from the heat as soon as possible. Drink cool beverages. If seriously overheated, remove all clothes and bathe in cool, not cold, water. Visit a doctor for serious cases.


Heat Stroke

If the situation becomes worse, a person might suffer from heat stroke. The body is no longer able to control the body's temperature and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels (42 degrees and up). Signs of a heat stroke are: hot and dry skin, severe headaches, dizziness, weakness, disorientation, fatigue, seizure, loss of consciousness. It is essential to get the body temperature down as quickly as possible to avoid brain damage or even death. Take of all the victim's clothes and if possible submerge the victim in cool water or cover the victim with ice bags. Keep the victim moist and if enough water is not available, use a blower or any other method of cooling down the victim.

It is important to know how you should take care of yourself when you go out for fun and adventure. There are many possible situations that may occur. These are only some guides on how you can prevent them.



First Aid - Neck & Spinal Injuries

Neck and spine injuries are very serious injuries that can lead to paralysis and even death. If you are in a first aid situation where the victim has possible neck and/or spine injuries be very careful. In serious cases the spinal cord could be severed resulting in paralysis. The extent of paralysis will depend upon the height of the spinal injury. The closer to the neck, the more extensive the paralysis.


Signs of neck and/or spinal injury:

Check if the victim's head or neck look deformed or in an odd position.


Check if the victim is feeling pain in the neck or across the spine.


Check if the victim is feeling numbness, tingling or weakness in legs, arms or other body parts. These are a clear sign of spinal injury.


Check for paralysis by actually pinching extremities such as finger and toes to check that the victim has feeling in those body parts. Ask the victim to squeeze your hand, move his feet, etc. If the victim is able to perform these operations then there is probably no spinal injury.


If there is the slightest chance of spinal injury, take all precautions and assume the worst.



Send for medical assistance as soon as possible.


Do not move the victim in any way and restrict the victim from moving himself. Even if the victim is in the water, try to stabilize the neck and back without moving the victim. If there is time wait for the medical assistance to arrive and let them take over. If this is not possible immobilize the neck and back using any tools that you might have to your disposal. Keep the head from making any rolling, sideways or up and down movement.


Check constantly for vital signs and signs of shock. Keep the victim warm.


It is necessary to be able to assess the condition of a possible injury and what you can do if it happens when you go Snowboarding. These are some guides that could help you become aware of what to do in such situations.




First Aid - Sprains & Strains

Sprains are an injury in which a joint is forced past its normal range of motion resulting in overstretching or tearing of the ligaments. Strains are stretching or tearing of a muscle or muscle tendon. It is often hard to distinguish between a bone fracture, ligament sprain or muscle strain.
Assess the seriousness of the injury:


Did the victim hear a snapping sound or feel the breaking of a bone?


Are there any visible deformities?


Are there signs of hemorrhaging?


Is there increased joint laxity of the injured body part?


Is the patient able to move the injured body part?


How bad is the pain the victim is experiencing?


How bad is the de-colouring of the area and the swelling?


Answering these questions will help you determine how serious the injury is and if you are dealing with a fracture, strain or sprain. If it is apparent that a fracture has occurred then refer to the Fractures section.

Initial Care

  • Immobilize the injured body part

Make sure the victim does not move the injured body part. Use a splint or crutches to prevent further injury.


  • Raise the injured body part

This will reduce the swelling by draining fluids from the swollen area.


  • Apply Ice Cooling

Apply ice to injured body part. Do not let the ice make contact with the skin directly, cover it with a cloth or plastic to prevent frostbite. Cooling the injured limb will reduce the swelling and numb the area. Do not apply ice for longer than 20 minutes at an end and stop application when the area is numb. Use 20 minute intervals with the ice on and off for the first 72 hours of treatment.



Wrap the injured body part in an ace wrap using elastic bandages. Make it snug but not so tight that it cuts of circulation.


Warm Compresses

The ice will numb the pain and reduce the initial swelling. After the first 72 hours you should use warmth instead of cold. Warmth will help the healing process. Use warm compresses.


Normal Activity

Try to maintain normal activity during recovery. Circulation and movement will help the healing process. Slight discomfort is alright but make sure not to push it.


Follow up Treatment

Make sure that there are signs of healing. If the injured body part remains painful and swollen seek medical advise.

It is necessary to be able to assess the condition of a possible injury and what you can do if it happens when you go Snowboarding. These are some guides that could help you. In case of doubt consult the medical professionals and get help.




Mountaineering Health and Safety

Safety is one of the important concerns in Mountaineering, or in any Outdoor Activity. Since you are in the mountains most of the time and medical help is not readily available, it is very important to know the possible situations that you can get yourself into. In this section, learn the various illnesses and injuries that you may experience when you are in high altitudes and the Prevention and Treatment of those illnesses. Likewise, know how to deal with Natural and Animal Hazards. 


Blisters - Preventing & Treating Blisters

Blisters - Prevention & Treatment
Without the proper foot protection, your feet could easily be plagued with blisters during long hiking trips. But nothing should stop you from enjoying your hiking trip, not even blisters. This section gives you tips on how to prevent it and on how to treat it whenever you have one.

First Aid for Outdoor Activities

Outdoor First Aid
When hiking in remote areas or climbing high-altitude mountains and an accident happens, immediate help can be hard to find. It is therefore essential to know how to perform first aid to yourself or others when situations like that occur. Know what do when someone is afflicted with Hypothermia and Heat Stroke in this section.

Contacting Rescue Services

Contacting Rescue Services
During emergency situations, it is important that you call for medical assistance as soon as possible. There are several ways of doing so that are described in this section. The use of radio, cellular phones and flares are just some of the methods that you can find here.




Foot Blisters - Preventing & Healing Skin Blisters

Blisters - Preventing & Treating Blisters

Blisters are the number one foot ailment in Hiking and they can turn the greatest hike into the most painful one. Blisters can be avoided by proper Foot Training, having the correct Hiking Boots and Hiking Socks, and by early detection of possible problems. In this section, know the causes of Blisters and how to prevent Blisters, and how to treat them.

What causes Foot Blisters?

Heat: is the number one reason for getting Blisters. The heat responsible for causing Blisters is mostly caused by the friction between your skin and the inner of your boot. Sand and gravel in your boot can increase friction which is why they also cause Blisters.


Moisture: moist or wet feet from sweat or water are more susceptible to Blisters as moisture softens your skin.


How to Prevent Foot Blisters
Preventing Blisters boils down to countering the factors that cause them. In general, keeping your feet cool, dry, and free of sand will do the trick. Here are some tips on how to prevent Blisters:


First of all, select Hiking Boots with good fit that do not chafe your feet or have painful pressure points. Choose watertight but breathable boots that give the proper ventilation that will get rid of excess moisture. Look for fully gusseted tongs that keep sand and gravel outside of your boots. For more information on choosing correct Hiking Boots, read our section on Buying Hiking Boots.


Give your feet ample rest. If you feel that your feet might be moist or overheated, it might be wise to make some alterations to your Hiking Rhythm and take a longer rest where you take off your boots and socks. If you do so, you might want to change socks and dry the ones you had on. Having two pairs of socks used alternately is always a good idea to prevent Blisters.


If you decide to cool your feet in a stream or pool then make sure to dry them off well before you put on your socks and boots.


When conditions allow it, take off your boots and socks and walk with hiking sandals.


Early Treatment of Itchy Foot Blisters
Blisters develop over a period of time and often you can already feel one coming up. Early detection and treatment is the key to preventing full grown Blisters. If you feel a sore place on your foot or irritation, do the following:


Take off your boots and hiking socks immediately and remove any sand or gravel from your feet.

Let your feet dry and cool down.


Cover the sore area with surgical tape, band-aid, or even better special Blister moleskin. Moleskins are artificial skin that you can cut to shape and stick to your own skin. Moleskin can be purchased in most drugstores in a variety of brands and features.


Remove the moleskin once you stop hiking and let the skin recover during the night. The next morning, you can judge for yourself to apply a new cover or not. In general, take precautions and apply moleskin even if the area is only moderately irritated.


On Healing Foot Blisters

If the Blisters are at the surface and filled with fluid, you should take a sterilized needle and pierce the skin blisters. Pierce from the side close to the base of the Blister and let all the liquid flow out. If the affected skin is still intact then do not remove it. Instead, cover the drained Blister with moleskin. If the affected area is ruptured then carefully cut it away and clean the underlying new skin with rubbing alcohol or an antiseptic. If you have the time, you should allow the new skin to harden in the open air. If you need to move on again, apply moleskin and use gauze to keep the moleskin from directly contacting the tender new skin. Once the new skin has hardened a bit, you can apply benzoin or rubbing alcohol to further toughen up the new skin. Keep the new skin clean and sterilize it to prevent infection.


If the Blisters on Foot are buried deep in your skin and does not hold a lot of liquid then do not try to puncture them. Instead, just cover them with moleskin.


These are the basic things you need to know about Blisters. It is essential that you have adequate First Aid knowledge and training if you are engaged in Outdoor Activities such as Hiking.




Contacting Rescue Services - Outdoor Rescue

Contacting Rescue ServicesIn emergency situations, you should not hesitate to call for medical assistance. Most mountainous areas have local rescue services and helicopter crews on standby. Local tourist and guide organizations will be able to give you details such as their phone numbers and emergency radio channels. Make sure to note them down and have your team members know them by heart. Do not rely on having them pinned down in your guidebook or map. If such local information is not available, at least make sure to know the country's emergency telephone number.


Keeping People Informed

As outlined in our Hiking Preparations section, it is essential to notify people around you and even the proper authorities of your plans before you head out. Give them details about your plans and your estimated time of arrival (ETA) at each point along your route and your estimated time of return. If possible, contact the outside world at fixed intervals and inform them of your whereabouts. In that way, if you fail to report in or do not make your ETA, the people who stayed home will be able to call in emergency services with a good knowledge about your possible location. 


How to Contact Rescue Services

Reaching the outside world is essential in an emergency situation. If you took the proper preparations, you will have brought a mobile phone or radio if no signal is available. Here are some methods on how to contact rescue services. You can use more than one method to increase the chances of being noticed: 



Check with local authorities about the emergency channel. For Very High Frequency (VHF) radios, it will probably be channel 16. Should the signal be weak and communication is not clear, you should first try to signal in Morse Code and then find higher ground where reception is probably better. Do not waste battery of your radio and only try to find contact in intervals.


Mobile Phones

In case of a weak signal, dial the emergency number as this works at a higher signal intensity than normal calls. Try sending text messages as well. If you are unable to get any signal or reply, your next move would be to turn your mobile phone on and off in an SOS pattern. If you are lucky, this signal will be picked up.



Flares are a great way of drawing attention. If you have a very limited supply then make sure to use them only if a rescue vehicle is in the vicinity. Hand-held flares become hot and emit smoke and particles so make sure to keep them above your head.



Reflecting the sun's rays with a mirror is a good way of drawing attention. If you do not have a mirror, try using any other shiny object like metal cases or glass bottle bottoms. To make your aim more precise, hold your mirror or shiny object in one hand and block the object (plane, boat, rescue vehicle) with your other hand and aim the mirror in a way that you can see the flash on your hand. Remove your hand and move the mirror in slow circular motions at your target.


Light Signals

You can use mirror signaling if the sun is shining during the daytime. A strong flash light will make a very recognizable signal at night. You can use your flash light to give the SOS signal. Six repeated flashes a minute with a minute interval is the internationally recognized Mountain Distress Signal.



Burning fire arranged in a triangle shape is an internationally recognized distress signal. Fires and smoke are a good way of drawing attention. If fuel is short then light your fire only if you spot a rescue vehicle. Use wet leaves or plastic for maximum smoke production and light your fires at easily recognizable places like open clearings or elevations. Keep your fires under control to prevent Forest Fires and more trouble.


Obstacle Patterns

Try to use natural and man-made objects to create a big recognizable pattern. Triangles, crosses, or SOS are the most common and recognizable patterns. Use logs, stones, or whatever is at your disposal to make these signs.


Passing on the Right Information

When contacting medical assistance, make sure to have the following details at your disposal: 

The nature and cause of the incident causing the injuries


The number of patients and the name, age, and medical condition of each patient in order of importance:


Vital signs
Level of consciousness:


A: Alert

Responds to verbal stimuli (talking/shouting)

Responds to pain stimuli (pinching, pin pricks)


    Description of injury

    The treatment already applied


Group Situation:

    Number of uninjured people

    Medical expertise in the group


    Water/food and medical supplies


Try to give the location as precisely as possible:

    GPS or map coordinates

    Distance and direction from landmarks

    Description of landscape or possible special features


Weather and terrain conditions/problems


In case of a helicopter: possible landing zone


These are some of the ways on how to contact rescue services. If you are engaged in an Outdoor Activity like Hiking, it is very important to have knowledge on how to ask for assistance if the situation calls for it. Make sure you know what to do in case of an emergency situation before the hike.




Acclimatization: Adjusting to Higher Altitudes

Don’t you just enjoy that spectacular view from the summit, taking pleasure in the stillness and hushed environment far above the ground? But take note that there are risks in ascending to such high altitudes, and the mountaineer that you are must learn to understand such risks that are involved. Taking a few precautions can prevent altitude illnesses, and acclimatization is a slow process that must be taken to allow the body to adjust to the decreasing oxygen level at such high alitudes.

One of the main causes of alitude illnesses is going high at such a fast rate, with high altitude meaning a level of above 8,000 feet or 2,400 meters. Immediate effects would include hyperventilation, headaches and nausea, increase in heart rate, and fluid loss. It is best to be cautious when one has not been in high altitude before, as the body needs a certain amount of time before it can operate with decreased levels of oxygen. Each person has different susceptabilities to mountain sickness, and climbers ascending in groups must consider each person’s acclimitization needs.

So how do you prevent mountain sickness? Don’t over-exert that climb. Take an aclimeter with you to know the elevation of your location. It is safe to bet that a thousand feet ascent per day is dependable gain. If you go above 10,000 feet, remember to Climb High and Sleep Low. A climber can climb more than a thousand feet each day but must come down and sleep at a lower altitude to allow his body to acclimatize.

If you can’t prevent mountain illness, certain measures can be taken to adjust to the altitude levels. Climbing down is the main treatment for all forms of mountain sickness. Drinking plenty of fluids also help in acclimatization as it restores lost liquids brought about by the heavy breathing in such thin air. Dosages of Acetazolamide may also help climbers speed up acclimatization, as it helps minimize symptoms caused by deprivation of oxygen. Remember to take note of your elevation when trying to overcome that mountain. Ignoring that mountain sickness may lead to life-threatening edema which may cause your life. 


First Aid and Medical Kits

First Aid and Medical Kits

You cannot possibly cover every situation while you are trekking or Climbing, but you should equip yourself with First Aid and Medical Kits to cope with minor accidents and illnesses. The type and extent of medication depends on how many days before getting professional help you are likely to be. 


First Aid Supplies

Your First Aid Kit should contain the following items:

Adhesive Tape - it is used to apply the gauze to the skin


Bandages - are used in splints to support broken bones


Elasticated Support Bandage - are used to support sprained knees or ankles


Gauze Swabs - are used to dress the wound


Non-adhesive Dressings - used to dress the wound


Safety Pins - can be used in bandages


Small Pair of Scissors - can be used to cut the gauze in smaller pieces


Sterile Alcohol Wipes - used to clean the wound


Steri-strips - protects the wound from infection


Sutures - used to close an open wound


Syringes and Needles - these are needed when a medication needs to be applied intravenously


Thermometer - is needed to check a person's temperature


Tweezers - are used to remove splinters embedded on the skin


Space blanket - is used to keep a person warm





The following is a list of Medical Kit contents for a high altitude expedition. 




Allergies, Sleep


Nausea, vomiting


Headache, muscle aches & pains, burns, frostbite, sunburn


Painkiller, cough suppressant

Dexamethasone (Decadron)

Severe AMS or HACE

Acetazolamide (Diamox)

To speed acclimatization, treat mild AMS

Metronidazole or Tinidazole


Antibiotic Cream

For infected wounds

Labiosan (or similar)

Lip protection

Immodium (or similar)


Antibiotic ointment

Skin infections and prevention

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Headache, pain killer, fever

Sun Block

Sunburn prevention

Throat Lozenges

Sore throat

Betadine solution

For minor cuts and abrasions

Multi Vitamins

Especially on trips where dietary vitamin intake may be inadequate.

Oral Rehydration Salts

For treatment of severe diarrhea

Those are the important things that should come with all your Mountaineering Gear. First Aid and Medical Kits should always be inside your pack and in a place where you can easily get them when you need them. In connection to that, it is also important to know about First Aid for Mountaineering so that you would know how to respond to an emergency situation.



Mountaineering HazardsMountaineering Hazards
Like any other outdoor activity, Mountaineering entails some Hazards as well. They can be unpredictable or hidden from eyesight, and most of them are lethal. So before you go Mountaineering, you must be aware of these different hazards and how you can deal with them. 


Falling rocks – As time passes, rock formations eventually crumble into smaller rocks. This can be caused by erosion, wind, thawing of ice, and animal activity. Sometimes, it can also be caused by human activity such as previous Hiking trips. Falling rocks are dangerous because they can cause serious injuries like fractures. These rocks can be predicted by some outward signs. In places where rocks often fall, debris or smaller rock fragments can be found below. On snow, falling rocks form grooves that are visible from a distance. By all means, avoid camping or staying for a long period of time in areas with these signs. If it is necessary to pass through them, do it as quickly and carefully as possible. Wearing a helmet can also help.


Falling Ice – Like rocks, smaller fragments of ice will eventually break off from a glacier due to rising temperatures. This results in falling ice. Just like falling rocks, they can also be avoided. Generally, it is advised not to climb ice-covered rock faces during a warm day, especially when it is almost spring. But the sites where ice usually falls can also be determined by debris found below them. As much as possible, avoid these areas.


Avalanche – This is a huge blanket of snow sliding down the side of a mountain. Avalanches are a major threat to Mountaineers because it can easily bury them in a heavy pile of snow where it is very difficult or sometimes impossible to get out. Some factors that contribute to the occurrence of avalanches are the steepness of the slope of the mountainside, instability of the snowpack, and the weather. It is near impossible to predict the coming of an avalanche, so all Mountaineers are encouraged to partake in an avalanche rescue training session beforehand. Everyone is encouraged not to Hike alone as well. Also, everyone is required to carry at all times a shovel, avalanche beacons and probes. These items will make avalanche rescues easier and faster.


Crevasses – These are huge and deep cracks or openings across glaciers or snow fields that are caused by the movement of the glacier. Crevasses can either be visible or hidden (usually by a blanket of snow). Detecting a hidden crevasse requires a high level of experience from the Mountaineer. When walking across a snow-covered glacier, your best bet for safety is having the leader of your team roped to at least two other members and having them walk along a straight line, following the leader. That will prevent him from falling down to the bottom of a hidden crevasse in case he accidentally steps into one. But to be sure, everyone traveling across glaciers must have had crevasse rescue training.


Ice slopes – When walking through slopes covered in ice or hard snow, Crampons are a must-have. Crampons are sets of metal spikes that can be attached to the bottom of your shoe. These help by piercing through the ice or snow, providing a solid grip on an otherwise slippery surface. Another good tool to have is an Ice Axe, a pole with a pickaxe on top and a spike at the bottom, the latter being used to provide stability and balance while walking on ice just like a walking stick.


Snow slopes – These are more common than hard snow or ice slopes. Snow slopes are generally easy to climb, but be careful of bergschrunds. These are wide crevasses usually found at the foot of the slope, and are mostly too wide to be traversed by merely leaping or jumping across them. Crossing a bergschrund requires the use of a bridge, which can be quite tricky to set up. Before crossing a snow slope, remember to note the quality of the snow. A new layer of snow on ice can be dangerous because it can easily result in an avalanche when crossed. The best kind of snow to cross is the harder type, which can be found early in the morning. In the afternoon, as the day heats up, the snow tends to soften. That’s why it is ideal to start Hiking during the early morning hours.


Weather – Yes, the weather is a hazard too. This is because weather contributes largely to the changes in rock and ice formations, thus initiating other hazards like falling rocks and ice. Not only that, rain can make it very difficult to see the trail, making Hiking much more grueling than during normal conditions. And during thunderstorms, lightning may occur. Since lightning is attracted to high points on the ground, standing on or near the mountain summit during lightning storms is very dangerous. So before Hiking, it is a must to know the weather conditions. Better stay at home on a bad weather day and Hike some other day than Hike during bad weather and get injured or even killed in the process.


These are the most common risks that you may face during one of your outings as a Mountaineer. Note the Safety Measures for each Hazard, and as much as possible, participate in rescue trainings that your local Mountaineering club may offer. These can prove to be a big help when faced by one of these Hazards. Just don’t be overconfident when you’re out in the mountains already. Always expect the worst, and hope for the best. 




Natural Hazards in Hiking & Outdoor Activities

The great outdoors can be a very soothing and relaxing place, but Mother Nature is unpredictable. In this section, we will look at some of the most common Natural Hazards that you might encounter in Hiking and other Outdoor Adventures. In most cases, we will not only explain the possible threats but we will also teach you how to prevent problems, detect the dangers, and perform treatment. 


Storms & Tornadoes

Storms & Tornadoes
Knowing the weather conditions is essential in Outdoor Activities. As part of Hiking preparation, check the weather forecast before taking the hike. Learn how to predict storms and how to find proper shelter in case there is a storm or tornado. 


One of the natural hazards that you may encounter is Lightning. In this section, learn how to detect or locate a Lightning storm. In addition, find outdoor shelter and know what to do in case there is a Lightning storm. Learn the First Aid basics for people who are struck by Lightning. 

Forest Fires

Forest Fires
If you are engaged in Outdoor Activities such as Hiking, it is essential to know how to deal with certain situations such as Forest Fires. In this section, learn how to prevent Forest Fires and take a look at some survival tips. 

Avalanche Awareness

Avalanche Awareness
Avalanches are a very real danger for all those who visit snowy mountainous areas. In this section, learn some important information about Avalanches - dangers, types, and causes, Avalanche checklist, as well as rescue and safety equipment. 

River, Stream & Water Crossings

River, Stream, & Water Crossings
If you are engaged in Outdoor Activities, there may be instances when you need to cross rivers or lakes. This can be risky. In this section, we will give some important guidelines in crossing rivers and lakes. Learn how to deal with possible water hazards. 

Cave Exploration & Cave Survival

Cave Exploration & Cave Survival
There are some people who are interested in caves and finding one during an Outdoor Activity can increase curiosity. In this section, learn the possible dangers of cave exploration and know what to do if you get lost inside a Cave. 

Hiking and other Outdoor Activities can confront you with some big challenges and knowing about them is a first step in dealing with them. Know the different natural hazards that you may encounter and learn what to do if you find yourself in one of the natural dangers mentioned above.