Accident in the mountains – expectations vs reality

toprMany people live in an unfounded belief that accidents happen to others. Unfortunately this is not true. Many experienced alpinists have accidents on easy ground. Often it is a matter of chance or a momentary lack of concentration. However most accidents in tourist destinations happen due to lack of preparation or just pure stupidity. Tourists without warm clothes, proper shoes, crampons or ice axes go to the upper parts of The Tatras where in the spring and autumn cold winter conditions persist.

Even if an accident happens, being used to spectacular TV news footage, we expect help to come in 5 minutes and a free helicopter ride to a hospital. Nothing more misleading. The usage of the helicopter depends on weather conditions and time of the day. At night, in low clouds, fog or strong winds mountain rescue will be forced to reach you on foot which will take many hours.

First and foremost before heading up you  should make preparations. Find out where you are going and remember the names. You should know proper phone numbers for mountain rescue. In Polish Tatras TOPR ( +48 601100300 or +48 182063444 ) and in Slovak part HZS ( +421 18300 )  With massive popularity of power-hungry smartphones it is worth considering taking power bank, especially in the winter when cold drain batteries faster – or just get an old nokia from your grandparents 😉

You should be able to tell where you are or have been recently. Narrowing down search area to a single valley or peak greatly increases your chances. There were cases of panicked tourists calling to report being lost somewhere in the mountains. Conclusions seems obvious – in the first place you can only count on the help of your fellow travelers.

Please select the destination based on your skills and weather conditions. Be prepared for the change of weather or unexpected stop for a few hours.

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