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Mountain Hiking - Benefits and Hazards

Updated on February 8, 2015

Mountaineering and hiking are becoming very popular outdoor activities for all generations. Who doesn't love the scenic views of nature, fresh air and socializing with friends during physical exercise. The benefit of mountaineering and hiking is that you can choose tour which is appropriate to your psychophysical skills, experience and knowledge. That's the reason why mountaineering and hiking are appropriate for kids, teenagers, families, elders and also experienced hikers and mountaineers. It is your decision whether you go on an easy socializing tour with your friends or family or you choose a complex tour which will build your confidence and self esteem.

Who doesn't love views like that?

Beatiful Alps
Beatiful Alps

Benefits

Hiking is an aerobic exercise which helps you:

  • Improve muscular fitness (quadriceps, hamstring, calves, glutes, hips, shoulders, abs)
  • Improve cardio-respiratory and pulmonary fitness (heart, lungs, blood vessels)
  • Control your weight (during activity you will burn up to 400 calories per hour)
  • Reduce psychological risks (depression, sleeplessness)
  • Reduce risk of different cancers
  • Reduce risk of high cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Reduce risk of high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Reduce risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Improve bone health

But there are not just health benefits you will also:

  • Build your self esteem
  • Meet new people
  • Visit new places
  • Make astonishing photos
  • Get new experience and knowledge
  • Build the best team with your friends or co-workers
  • Have unforgotten trips with your friends or family

We figured out that mountaineering and hiking are awesome sports, appropriate for everybody with many benefits which will build your health and social life.

People often ask if mountaineering and hiking are dangerous sports. The answer is that it depends on tour which you are making. Tour must be appropriate to your experience, knowledge and psychophysical skills.

Bellow I will briefly describe hazards which may occur during hiking and mountaineering.

Who doesn't love these beautiful mountains?

Hazards

There are many hazards which may occur during hiking or mountaineering but you can reduce them. First step to this is being familiar with them.

We have two types of hazards:

  • Subjective hazards - these are hazards created by humans
  • Objective hazards - these are hazards caused by nature


Types of subjective hazards:

Inappropriate preparation hazards

  • Weather forecast information missing before going
  • Orientation skills overestimation
  • Incorrectly estimated technical complexity
  • Incorrectly estimated duration
  • Basic experience and capabilities overestimation


Inappropriate equipment hazards

  • Inappropriate shoes/boots
  • Equipment missing (equipment must be consistent with technical complexity)
  • Inappropriate wind, cold, rain or sun protection


Types of objective hazards:

  • Rockfall
  • Sudden weather change
  • Bad visibility
  • Avalanches
  • High altitude


This is brief description of hazards which may occur during mountaineering or hiking. The question now is how to minimize hazards.

First step is to read some literature to get additional knowledge before starting your trip. But even then be aware that theoretical knowledge isn't also practical experience. Bellow I will list some good books appropriate for hikers and mountaineers.


Book for beginners

Day Hiker's Handbook: Get Started with the Experts (Backpacker Magazine)
Day Hiker's Handbook: Get Started with the Experts (Backpacker Magazine)

Appropriate book for beginners who would like to start with hiking

 

Ice climbing accident - You don't want this happens to you!

Avalanche Hazard

Minimize Hazards

So the question now is how to minimize hazards. Everybody wants to be safe during hiking and moutnaineering but the qestion is how to achieve that. Remember that your trip starts at home with gathering information and managing equipment. Next step is being careful outdoor.

You should follow next steps to minimize hazards

At home you should do:

Gather information about weather and technical complexity. This information is easily accesable on internet or in literature. Print maps or load them on your GPS. Don't foreget to check batteries. In cold environment batteries will empty faster. Find orienteering points which will help you later if something goes wrong. You should also estimate duration. Try to find this information on internet or estimate it by yourself. You can walk 6 kilometers per hour on flat terrain. When you are making big altitude change your speed will be lower. Maybe it wil drop even to 1 kilometer per hour. You should also incalculate time for breaks in your tour. If you are doing longer tour, prepare with short tours before going.

So you have done that? What is next?

Now you should pack your gear. For shorter trips you will need only water and maybe some energy bars. You can carry water in camelback or in bottle. Camelback is much more handy. But what if you are doing longer trips?
Then you will need backpack, first aid kit, additional clothing, and technical equipment like crampons, ice axe, helmet etc. if you are doing technically complex tours. Do technically complex tours only if you have appropriate knowledge and experience.

Next step is going on the tour:

When you start your tour don't rush. Be careful for signs of weather change and look for other hazards like rockfall and avalanches too. 90% of safe tour is done at home. If you have appropriate equipment and information there is very little chance that something will go wrong. Do not overestimate your skills. This is the main reason for hiking and mountaineering injuries.


How to pack your backpack for mountaineering

Which injuries did you have on hike?

See results

FAQ:

What is the difference between hiking and mountaineering?

Mountaineering takes place in mountainous terrain and includes hiking and sometimes climbing. For mountaineering you occasionally need technical equipment such as crampons, ice axes, harness, rope and other climbing equipment.
Hiking doesn't take place only in mountains, you can hike forests, desert, coast line and practically anywhere you want. Hiking trips are usually shorter than mountaineering trips.

Is hiking or mountaineering dangerous sport?

No they are not if you follow instructions in this article and additional literature

Will I lose weight with hiking and mountaineering?

Hiking and mountaineering are appropriate sports to lose weight but keep in mind that your weight also depends on nutrition. If you want to lose weight start slowly that you won't lose the joy of hiking and mountaineering. Then slowly increase your mountaineering and hiking activity.

Which are hiking and mountaineering most common injuries?

Most common injuries are blisters, cuts and scrapes and dehydration. You can prevent these injuries with your knowledge and equipment.

What hazards did you face on mountain hiking trip?

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    • JessBraz profile image

      JessBraz 3 years ago from Canada

      Very nice hub!

      I liked that you included a FAQ section. I've never actually noticed any other hubs that included something like that before. :) That's an idea I might have to use in some of my future hubs! It's a great way of conveying information to readers. Cheers to you for such a wonderfully formatted hub!

      Thanks for the awesome book suggestions, as well. I've never been mountaineering before, as I've never really had the opportunity to (not unless you count riding a gondala to the top of a mountain. lol) but I am a pretty big hiker. I'm hoping to start planning a backcountry hiking/camping trip. I've got the winter to plan it for early next summer- so I might have to check out some of those books. The "Backpackers & Hikers Handbook" looks pretty good.

      Awesome hub! Voted up and awesome & useful. I'll definitely be checking out your other hubs as well.

      Cheers!

    • BobbySD profile image
      Author

      BobbySD 3 years ago from All around the world

      Thank you JessBraz, I also like your hubs. Keep on the good work. If you have any questions about mountaineering feel free to ask me :)

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Efficient Admin 2 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      I have been doing day hikes for the past 2 years and this hub is very useful and spot on. I always find a trail map before going out there and make sure to pack plenty of cold water in my Thermos containers and plenty of snacks / protein / fruit the night before. I might also add that my legs are getting pretty solid! I have many hubs on the places visited. Thanks for sharing these tips.

    • BobbySD profile image
      Author

      BobbySD 2 years ago from All around the world

      Thank you Efficient Admin and thank you for sharing your tips. I wish you happy hiking :)

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Efficient Admin 2 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      We have a lot of snakes in my area such as black snakes, garden snakes and then the poisonous Copperheads. I have seen the black snakes several times on a hike but stay away from them and they just crawl away from the path. They like to crawl up trees too!

    • BobbySD profile image
      Author

      BobbySD 2 years ago from All around the world

      That's bad, I haven't seen snake on a tree yet. I also wish I won't in the future :) Well, they say snakes usually go away from the people if not surprised. Safe hiking and without snakes.

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