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June 2015 Issue
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Steady as she goes

Photo; Mikel Ortega

Andrew Hobman explains the safest way to approach your next trip in winter conditions

The way you move through terrain covered in rock, snow and ice has a lot to do with your safety and enjoyment. Being smooth and efficient in your movement means less fatigue, more speed and less chance of making a mistake.

A fall in alpine terrain has too many dangerous consequences. Even a simple injury like a twisted ankle can be extremely serious given the environment, weather and possible distance from a road end.

Aim for efficiency in everything you do. Staying balanced, being methodical with your movements, and carrying an appropriate and evenly-distributed pack are all key to a great day’s walking, tramping or climbing.

Setting a good pace for yourself and your group is important. A common mistake is to set off too fast and become tired and overheated before the hard climbing has begun. This is often driven by the excitement of the trip or a little bit of competition within the group.

The best strategy is to start slowly, allow your body to warm up, adjust the pace to the slower group members and settle into a steady efficient tempo. This will vary as the terrain dictates with a slow methodical plod up steep hills and an increase as you level out or descend.

Be aware of time and daylight hours – the slower you travel, the longer you will be exposed to any hazards, and the less time you will have for more technical sections.

– Andrew Hobman is the Mountain Safety Council’s programme manager for avalanche and alpine safety

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