Stay safe in the mountains
Hiking and walking is one of the best ways to experience Slovakia's magnificent mountains. Follow these tips to keep yourself safe while hiking.
Slovakia has four very distinct seasons, out of which the best for hiking is autumn. The weather is somewhat stable and there is only small probability of sudden storms or fog. But the devoted hikers know the truth: every season gives such a different and unique feel to the landscape, that the time does not really matter... as long as you stay safe on your trip.
Every year there is small number of accidents and deaths during hiking, ski mountaineering and climbing in Slovakia mountains. Never underestimate mountains!
The trails in Slovak mountains are well-marked, indicated by colored markers, with arrows to show you the way on most crossings. The trails are open from 15th of June until the 1st of November. This is not only for tourists' own safety, but also because of the peace of mountain fauna. Most of the trails are led on a rock ground, which usually tends to be adorned by mosses and lichens. Wear proper hiking boots to provide good grip and ankle support. It is usually quite cold and windy in the higher regions (peaks and mountain ridges), so pack a jacket and two extra singlets even if it’s warm and sunny in the valley. You'll appreciate the extra base layers also because you'll be sweaty in no time.
Before your hike
- Always make sure to check the weather on your mobile phone right before your trip.
- Get a special one-day mountain hike insurance. That can be done in infocentres in the base (usually the resort you start your trip from, like Tatranska Lomnica or Strbske pleso). The insurance costs about 1.40€ per day.
- Save the nonstop emergency mountain rescure number 18 300 to your phone.
- Have an extra pair of socks, a windstopping jacket, extra base layers and a lot of water in your backpack.
- The flashlight/headlight might not seem that important, but if you get just a bit late, you'll be thanking all gods you have it
- Use a sunscreen lotion on unprotected skin or else you won't recognize the red man in the mirror. Mountain sun does that.
Rain and storm in the mountains
Especially during spring and summer, unexpected rains and storms that can make you review all your life decisions, are a real threat.
When storm is coming (usually in the afternoon hours), flee to the valley, if possible. The vast majority of fatalities by hitting streak happened on the mountain ridge. If descent is not possible, you should seek appropriate shelter, but watch out for rock overhangs or rock walls, they do not protect against natural stream. I'd rather get wet should it be a few meters from the rock wall. Keep the metal things away from you, drop your backpack somewhere (if possible, where it's protected from rain). Squat with your feet together and hands on knees. Do not hide under the trees - especially the highest, or alone - or poles of voltage.
After rain the trails are slippery, increase your attention to the maximum. Rain and fog can lead to temporary loss of orientation, so it is necessary to remember the most significant morphological features in the vicinity. If hiking in a group, talk to each other or hold one rope to make sure you stay close.
Well... that's it for today, kids and remember: if you want to be in an extreme environment, be extremely prepared!
Have a safe and magnificent trip!