Preventing Injuries on Your Winter Trek

Any sort of injury can occur when you’re out in the wilderness, but when you combine low temperatures and hazardous terrain into the mix, the risk of injury naturally increases. One question we hear a lot is “how can I prevent injuries when ice climbing or when I’m on a winter hike?”. The answer certainly depends on the injury in question, and in general, usually includes multiple factors. Therefore, we would like to cover some simple tips and ideas that you can consider before heading out on your next trek, hopefully allowing you to return feeling tired, but healthy!

Understand the Conditions

The key word here is “understand”. Knowing what sort of terrain and weather conditions to expect sounds simple, but often times this will take a lot of experience in a certain environment to have a good handle on what to expect. If you’re heading out to a new a location, plan for any potential extremes and ALWAYS play it safe! It’s easy to become familiar with one particular local, only to realize the prevailing winds in another location create completely different weather systems! Being cautious and not pushing the limits are especially important considerations in cold weather, as you don’t want to be stuck in one place for too long! Thus, if you are traveling to a new location, study the area comprehensively, including mapping trails ahead of time, planning escape routes, looking at the typical and extreme weather conditions that may occur, and incorporating safety items like a satellite phone, GPS, and first aid kit.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Gear Up

While your knowledge, experience, and critical thinking are the most important factors for safety, having the appropriate gear can also go a long way in reducing the risk of injury. For example, many climbers and hikers have experienced injuries in one form or another in their history, whether it be from an accident or another sport. Guarding yourself against re-injury can be as simple as sliding on a protective mechanism ahead of time. The most effective of these devices are braces, which help lend additional support to the joints in your body. Particularly important for climbers and hikers are functional ankle braces. These allow you to move around like normal, but will provide extra support in the case of a slip, fall, or quick roll of the ankle. Even those without a history of ankle sprains often find them beneficial, as they don’t cost very much unless you get the most high end models. Check out Brace Access for more information about braces and injuries.

Assess Your Physical and Mental Condition

This may offend some people if you tell them this directly, but it’s always a good idea to check yourself before heading out on a big hike or climb. If you’re returning from injury, always make sure you’re more than good to go. If this is your first trek back, don’t make it a big, but instead, ease your way into it. It may sound frustrating and over-protective, but all it takes is one little tweak of your knee, back, or ankle, to keep you sidelined for another few months.

What’s with the “mental” part? This is a lot tougher to describe and will always depend on the individual. For myself, I know that climbing and hiking is the most effective way for me to reduce stress. Nothing better than an outdoor environment that provides me with a lot of exercise and keeps my mind off the perils of civilization! That said, I once had a close call that spooked me, and it was all because of a silly mistake from a mental lapse. I had been trying to get on this climb for ages, as I was cooped up in the office for an unusually long period of time. However, I was unaware of how over tired I was, so when the day finally came to get outdoors, I wasn’t as sharp as I should have been. A simple fix for this would be to give myself one day to catch up on sleep and proper eating, that’s all. Again, this is something that may seem weird, but as long as you consider this before heading out, you should be on the right track.


These aren’t the only tips to reduce the risk of injury on your winter trek, but for myself, they represent some of the most effective solutions. If you practice these tips, please don’t become over-confident, as accidents can occur at anytime in the great outdoors. Please exercise caution by thinking of emergency situations and ensuring you are properly prepared to get yourself out of a jam. Happy hiking!

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Ice Climbing and Winter Backpacking

For most of enjoying in the season of winter months comes down to watching the snowflakes while fluttering and drinking some

ice climbing

hot bevarage in the warm room or skiing, at best. But this is unthinkable for people who enjoy ice climbing and winter backpaking. The thrill of danger and the excitement of unknown, yet unexplored regions and sceneries is how they see the fun in winter. These types of activities are not for everyone, someone would rather stay in the comfort of their homes next to the warm fireplace, but for adventures these activities are worth every effort.

Although demanding and sometimes dangerous, both ice climbing and winter backpacking can be enjoyable experience if you are well prepared. And dangerous is also part of the fun, I suppose.

Ice climbing is difficult sport that takes a good condition, strength and endurance. With right training, you can be in good shape and ready for your first climb. The right exercises include pull-ups, step-ups, squats, overhead press, etc.When ice climbing, you can use a lot of different tecqniques and equipment. The equipment should be chosen according to the courses and ice texture.

For steeper and higher slopes crampons are necessary for a safe climbing. Crampons are fixtures that are attached to footwear in order to improve mobility on ice. These fixtures also prevent damage to climbers’ feet.

For less steeper slopes, climbers can use an ice axe to chop steps.The length of best axe for any climber should be based on his size and type of activity. When you want to choose the correct axe, just stand upright and hold it. The spike should barely touch the ground.

Ice screws are used as protection in order to create rope anchors while climbing.

There are three main rope systems used in climbing: single, double and twin rope. Climbers use these rope systems for safety. Yet, single ropes are the most popular among climbers.

Winter backpacking can be very comfortable even though a lot of people who have never had such experience are skeptical on this point.

When preparing for winter backpacking, one should be aware of different challenges of this activity such as severe weather and shorter daylight hours. Thus, specially designed gear and additional skills are mandatory in order to have pleasurable experience.

Check the maps and research the area. Be sure that emergency services are always close. Check if the weather forecast is favorable. Always go with friend and have extra food and water in cases that something goes wrong.

Choose the right clothes that will enable you to stay warm and dry. Don’t forget navigation, first-aid supplies and fire.

Sleeping bags, tents and ground clothes are also necessary. During the winter backpacking consume a lot of the energy foods such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The energy foods will provide energy and help your body recover.

Finally, expect the unexpected whether you are preparing for ice climbing or winter backpacking and enjoy in your extraordinary experience.

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Basic Info About Ice Climbing and Winter Backpacking

Ice Climbing

If you are interested in one of these two extreme sports you should have knowledge about basics about these things. I will try to share some info about both of these disciplines. For further info try contacting people that are already experienced ice climbers or winter backpacking enthusiasts.

Heavily inclined frozen surfaces like icefalls and rock covered with frozen water are polygons for ice climbers. That means that ice climbing is pretty self-explanatory discipline. So ice climbing is an activity in which people try to ascend and overcome places that fit into description above.

If you are interested you should also know that there are two sub-disciplines of ice climbing, alpine ice climbing (where alpine ice climbing is usually just one and possibly last stage high mountain take ) and water ice climbing (while water ice climbing is independent take, and places that are chosen are usually chosen because of their technical difficulty. )

While we are at difficulty topic, you should also get familiar with grades of waterfall ice climbing. There are 8 waterfall ice climbing difficulty grades ( 9 if you include mythical WI7 grade, a climb every ice climber dreams, but those are still only dreams because there are no confirmed WI7 grade ice waterfalls ).

Grades range from easiest WI2 grade waterfall climb which is a 60 degrees ice waterfall without near-vertical stages of any size, up to WI6 and WI6+ where WI6 represents a constant vertical climb without resting that goes up to 60 meters in one take. WI6+ is an extreme version of WI6 grade climb and includes overhanging stages of a no rest climb.

Winter backpacking

Backpacking in general is an outdoor hiking activity that can last few days and includes backpacks that are carried by hikers and those backpacks contain all supplies that are needed for that hiking expedition. These supplies can vary, but few basic things for backpacking are: food, clothing, bedding, stove, water and cooking pit and tents. There are some a bit more extreme backpackers that from this basic list exclude things like water ( they search natural wells ), cooking pits ( they use alternative ways of cooking ) and sometimes they exclude tents and they build overnight shelters with things they find in nature ( this is a bit more extreme and is not advised for amateurs ).

Backpacking can include tents in which case rudimentary camps are built for staying overnight. In some parts of the world there are camp sites with already built accommodation for hikers.

Winter backpacking is a recreation only advised for experienced people because it requires skill to set camps and not to freeze to death. Weight of the backpacks is also increased because of winter clothing and few addition things required for winter backpacking. Some of these things include extra layers of bedding to avoid frostbite, extra clothing (wet clothing is no-no on winter backpacking, and you need a lot of clothes because you will sweat like crazy ), skis, snowshoes etc. As I said, this is not an activity for weak and inexperienced people. It can be even regarded as extreme sport, and if you are not extreme and if you feel cold in winter even under your blanket, then this is not for you.

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