On a warm afternoon in July, a family leaves a trail head with the goal of summitting the
South Sister Mountain
in Central Oregon. It was a rough hike as they took a path not
frequently traveled. By evening it
became obvious that this group would not make it to the summit and the glacier
they were attempting to cross was icing up; it just wasn’t safe to press on. 911 was called and a local SAR team reached
them after midnight. The temperature on
the glacier was quickly dropping below 40° (F) and the hikers were getting cold.
When the SAR team reached them, they found that the group had some food and water but no other gear. The hikers’ clothing selection was questionable too.
What is the right stuff to carry in the outdoors? What is the minimum? What should you consider before hitting the trail?
A climbing group in the 1930's, The Mountaineers from Seattle authored the “Ten Essentials” describing ten items that should be carried in the back country.
“The Ten Essentials” has been modified by different groups over the years. The following is the list that REI recommends:
- Sun protection
- Insulation (extra clothing)
- First-aid supplies
- Fire starter
- Repair kit and tools
- Nutrition (extra food)
- Hydration (extra water)
- Emergency shelter
This is the minimum that one should carry. It is a starting point.
For a more detailed look at what should go into your survival kit take a look at “Build the Perfect Survival Kit” by John D. McCann. This book evaluates equipment and provides suggestions for kit components based on your outdoor needs. For example, he has check lists for the day hiker and expands that to the deep woods trekker or SAR team member.
Now that you have the gear, what should you consider as you head in to the back country?
I was searching the Internet last year looking for other suggestions on wilderness travel planning. I came across a web site hosted in
Norway. I read that after a series of accidents and 18
deaths on Easter 1967, the Norwegian Red Cross and Norwegian Mountain Touring authored what is known as the
Norwegian Mountain Code. (To find this
information in detail, Google search on “the Norwegian Mountain Code.”)
The basic elements of the code are (and I am quoting from the site):
- Be prepared -Be sufficiently experienced, fit and equipped for your intended trip.
- Leave word of your route – Tell a responsible person your travel plan. (See the recommended Hikers Trip Plan at click on links.”)
- Be weather-wise - An old adage advises that you should always be alert to forecasts of bad weather, yet not rely completely on forecasts of good weather.
- Be equipped for bad weather and frost. - Always take a rucksack and proper mountain gear. Put on more clothing if you see approaching bad weather or if the temperature drops.
- Learn from the locals.
- Use a map and compass. Take a GPS too.
- Do not go solo. - If you venture out alone, there is nobody to give you first aid or notify a rescue service in an emergency.
- Turn back in time - sensible retreat is no disgrace. - If conditions deteriorate so much that you doubt you can attain your goal, turn around and return.
- Conserve energy and build a snow shelter if necessary..
The Scouts got it right – be prepared.