Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hiking In Snow At Higher Elevations

As you hike ever so higher hiking through the snow, you need to understand the added risks and problems with hiking in higher altitudes in the snow. You will find yourself needing to breathe deeper and more often to keep enough oxygen circulating to your muscles. Every breath has less oxygen, so you need more breaths. There are more special preparations for hiking in the snow as you go up higher in altitude:

Slower Pace - If you are not expecting the lack of oxygen, you will find yourself needing frequent rest stops to recover. But, by slowing your pace as you gain elevation, you will keep your body working without overexerting in the snow especially if it is deep snow.

Even Rhythm - Maintaining a breathing/stepping rhythm is even more important at higher elevations than lower down. It will help keep you from overexerting yourself.

Deep Breathing - when you first notice any breathlessness, start thinking about your breathing. Take deeper breaths and smaller steps until you have a sustainable pace again. On steeper sections, deliberately placing each foot and taking a breath may be the way to go.

Sunscreen is critical because the sun is more powerful higher up. Snow, light - colored rocks, cool temperature, and no shade above treeline also contribute to easy sun burns.

Sunglasses will help prevent squinting and headaches. Snowblindness and sunburned eyelids are real problems. Use side guards on your glasses for more protection.

Extra Clothes - long sleeves, long pants, hats, and gloves to protect from the sun, wind, and cold. Weather can change in a heartbeat, easily dropping more than 30 degrees in 1/2 hour or less.

Ignoring the risks of hiking at higher elevations with snowfall especially if snowfall is over 12 inches will ruin your day. If you're lucky, you'll just be wiped out, but there's a good chance you can get yourself in deep trouble.

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