Glacier Hiking

“Dictionary defines adventure as an unusual and exciting or daring experience. Many people count the experiences of their lives in the terms of the number of adventures they have had. Adventure sports and activities lead to an adrenaline rush that most people seek which is the main reason for them to engage in something that challenges them and their skills. Glacier Hiking is one such adventurous activity that people widely pursue all over the world. It is something that is out of ordinary. It requires survival skills, physical strength, endurance and sometimes experience too. Glacier hiking is all about hiking on a glacier. It requires unique equipment designed especially for the purpose of hiking in snow. The specialized equipment include

– Crampons

– Rows

– Suspender Belts

– Helmets

– Hike axe

Glacier hiking has gained a lot of popularity as an adventure sport. Glaciers are found on a very wide scale all over the world. Glaciers are formed during the winters when there has been a lot of snowfall. The summer temperatures too must remain cool enough to not let them melt. For the mere environment that glacier hiking needs it is important to acquire training before pursuing it. The unpredictability of the weather, lack of experience and most of all lack of preparation can give rise to situations that disable us from facing tough circumstances effectively. There are difficulties on the route such as crevasses and serac that all the hikers must be aware of beforehand.

If you are going for glacier hiking for the first time, then you might need a tour guide to help you along the way. People go out on this thrilling adventure for tours that extend over days together.

Preparation is the key to a safe and successful glacier hiking experience. You need to prepare yourself with good quality and adequate equipment. As a hiker, you might not need all the equipment you carry but having them with you at the time of an emergency can be a lifesaver.

Here is a list of the essentials that you need to carry with yourself on your adventurous glacier hiking trip.

  1. Navigation System: Before anything, you need to make sure that you are sticking to the route. You cannot afford to lose the right track especially when all you see is snow, as far as your eyes take you. You are more than a thousand miles above sea level, and to get back safely to where you came from you must have tools and possess skills to know where you are. Remember to carry a detailed map depicting the topography of the glacier you hike. You want to avoid dangerous pits and falls and for that you need to stay on a safe path. Also, remember to carry a GPS navigation device that is waterproof so that even if you get confused by the map of the area you can stay on track. Apart from these you can carry an altimeter, route markers, and route descriptions.
  1. Lights: Mountainous terrain is very unpredictable and highly unreliable. You have to be careful with every step you take. As it gets dark fast, especially with all the snow at high altitudes you need to carry proper lighting system with you to help you remain on track. Instead of focussing just on the brightness of the lights you must prefer carrying lights that consume lesser energy, last longer and provide good quality of bright light. LED’s are a great option for that because not only do they give out bright light but are also low on the consumption of energy. They are light in weight, durable and efficient that makes them preferable to bulbs and batteries.
  1. Sun Protection: Do not be fooled by the snow and the clouds because, at high altitudes, ultraviolet radiation can penetrate through the clouds and adversely affect your eyes and skin. To keep yourself protected from unwanted ultraviolet radiation while hiking you must carry sunglasses to guard your eyes at all times. Exposed eyes can become, irritable, itchy and dry causing lot of discomforts. Also, remember to carry a sunscreen for the exposed part of your face. Prefer one with a high SPF, naturally, as this will help in filtering the ultraviolet radiation more than 90 percent.
  1. Pack Extra Clothing: Hiking in glaciers is all about walking, eating and sleeping in nothing but snow for as long as your trip lasts. You think you have all the required clothing you need. But that is not the case as long as you do not have clothing that suits the season, clothing that will help you survive the worst weather conditions up there on the glacier.

Extra clothing is all about having the additional layers of clothing with you to help you survive the long inactive hours of unplanned stay in temporary camps where there are no tents to cover you. And this is a common case scenario, especially in mountaineering and glacier hiking. “”Double of Everything”” is the basic rule that you must follow.

-So you must have an extra layer of long underwear. It will help add a lot of comfort and the much-needed warmth on high altitudes.

-You will also need a hat and a woolen garment that covers all parts of your head and neck closely, a balaclava basically, to keep you insulated. They provide more warmth than any other clothing wrapped around your head and neck.

-To keep your feet protected and insulated always wear an extra pair of socks and an extra pair of thick woolen, fleece or polyester gloves for your hands.

-Wear an extra pair of insulated pants for keeping your legs warm

  1. First Aid: You must carry a first aid kit with you, no questions asked. Just carrying it is not enough, also learn how to use it for you might need it during glacier hiking for treating minor cuts and bruises. Initially, try not to be in a place where you might need it by avoiding any injury to the best of your capability.

If you get injured during your hiking trip, you cannot expect trained professionals to be there in time. So you must have all the necessary medication packed closely in a waterproof pack. If you opt for buying commercial first aid kits, then you need to upgrade them to suit the conditions of glacier hiking injuries. Here is what you should have in your first aid kit.

– Gauze Pads of all sizes: Make sure you carry enough of them so that they can absorb a significant amount of blood

– Adhesive bandages

– Wire ladder splint for fractures

– Roller gauze

– Butterfly bandages

– Scissors

– Latex Gloves

– Adhesive tape

– Triangular bandages

– Prescription drugs

  1. Shelter: Glacier hiking can last for many days which automatically calls for the need of having shelter. As you are high up in the mountains surrounded by snow on all sides you need to take waterproof shelter that includes

– Plastic tube tent

– Insulated sleeping bag

– Bivy sack to protect your insulated clothing layers from adverse weather conditions

Also carry an extra shelter with you if the first one gets ruined because of some reason.

  1. Nutrition: Going for several days on glacier hiking requires you to maintain your nutritional levels at all costs. Maintaining them requires consuming good quantities of healthy food and keeping your body hydrated at all times. At higher altitudes, with layers of clothing covering your body, you need to keep your energy level high. One starts feeling thirsty sooner at higher altitudes, so you need to have enough hydrating fluids with you too. You can carry packaged food that includes canned food but that is not a feasible option because they add unnecessary weight to your gear. Also, you cannot be sure about their nutritional value. Carrying bottles of water packed in insulated covers can also not keep your water from freezing for long, especially at higher altitudes where temperatures are in minus.

You can carry cooking kit, cooking fuel, utensils and raw materials. But that will also add to the weight and will also require energy on your part to set up a kitchen to cook and then consume food.

MREs or Meals, Ready to Eat are a great option which are preferred because they are

– Rugged

– Impact Resistant

– Durable

– Long Shelf Life

– Lightweight

– Nutritional

MREs are packed food and water supplies that you can get in a military or survival store. They are packed in a hermetically sealed environment.

Survival is all about maintaining the calorie balance in the body. A single pack of an MRE consists of 1200 to 2000 calories that are more than enough to keep you energized during hiking. You can get MREs that contain ration for an entire day that is three meals, snacks, and a dessert with each meal. There are side dishes that include rice, fruits or a vegetable salad. They also have plastic utensils for eating which further help in reducing the weight of MRE packs. Apart from that other accessories that an MRE packet can include in it are TP, matches, wipes, sugar, salt, Tabasco and chewing gum. Every MRE packet also has a cracker or bread package that most people like to have with their meals. You do not get this kind of variety in backpack meals.

The best part about MREs is that you can consume them as is. They require no preparation. They do not require external fire or water to heat them. There are MRE packets that come with a self-heating system and also flameless ration heaters. The self-heating MREs function in a way that as soon as you open the MRE heating packs and add water and entree in it, an internal heating system becomes active. So you can have a highly satisfying hot meal in the midst of snow covered mountains. Also, the meal is enough to make you feel full. The minerals, vitamins and proteins that are power packed in each MRE meal make sure you get the necessary supply of nutrients that your body needs under the conditions of physical stress.

Most MRE meals come with water. Buying them can keep your water needs satisfied, and your body hydrated. MRE packs with water eliminate the needs of any bottled fluid that might freeze. Apart from water, MREs also have other fluids such as sports drink, tea, coffee, hot chocolate or a shake. One of the most outstanding attributes of MREs is that you do not need to stop and set up a camp for consuming them. They are very easy to handle as their purpose is to cater to nutritional needs in difficult situations, and you can easily have them on the go. You can buy MREs that last from three days to years with no compromise on quality or the nutritional value.

You might think of MREs as packaged food that is limited in variety and taste but the information provided above is enough to break that misconception. The taste, variety and nutrition that MREs offer you is unbelievable As long as you have MREs on your glacier hiking adventure with you, you cannot die of hunger or thirst.”

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