People from different regions of the world visit countries like Nepal, India, China, and Pakistan to climb the highest mountain peaks of the Himalayas.
Every year, almost 150 people die during climbing for different reasons. Climbing has been on hold since the COVID outbreak, but it has now resumed once again, and the number of people interested in climbing is increasing. See the following illustration.
Let’s discuss some safety precautions for mountain climbing during COVID19.
1. Brace the Crowds
Since the initiation of vaccination programs, many countries have loosened their travel restrictions. People waiting to travel for more than a year are desperate to get away, and the number of tourists at popular destinations is increasing rapidly.
Even the locals are visiting these places. North Conway, a mountainous region in America, typically receives more than 17,000 visitors from nearby cities of New York and Boston on a weekend. Such conditions are very similar in international mount trekking destinations.
It is a good idea to visit a place with a lower number of tourists. Moreover, avoid staying in the base camp for too long. Plan your trip accordingly and start hiking after a day of reaching the base camp.
2. Maintain Social Distancing During Hiking
It is difficult to maintain your distance during trekking, but it is not impossible. The first thing is to avoid visiting public places like restaurants, cafes, and public lavatories before climbing.
Book separate rooms at the base camp so that if one of your party is infected, the others can continue the journey. Use protective equipment like N95 masks while trekking.
Avoid shaking hands or exchanging items until it is an emergency. Furthermore, sanitizers should be carried for avoiding the transmission of microbes.
3. Minimize Shared Surface
Mountain hiking is a group sport. Remember that the virus has the potential to spread from shared surfaces.
The more you are in direct contact with individuals, the more you are at risk of viral spread. Therefore, reduce direct contact and the use of shared surfaces with other mountaineers.
Often, tents at base camps are shared between two individuals, but every individual should have their own tent. In addition, other necessary items like pillows, blankets, or even electronic devices should be separate for everyone.
However, items like ropes can’t be used individually. Use sanitizer immediately after using such items, and avoid touching your face while using it.
4. Choose Lower Risk Areas
In the recent chaos, the health systems of many countries are under extreme pressure. Governments have failed to deal with the pandemic in many areas. For instance, there have been almost 30.3 million COVID cases recorded in India thanks to the limited health facilities available.
Source: John Hopkins University
Mountaineers are advised to choose lower altitude mountains with a lower risk. The main reason for this is that, in these deteriorating conditions, local hospitals cannot bear the burden of surgeries in the event of an emergency.
5. Select the Location Carefully
Despite the wide use of vaccines, the COVID19 situation is still critical. Many governments are struggling to maintain the equilibrium between supply and demand. Where possible, visit places that have better health facilities and a lower number of COVID cases.
Recently, the local government of Utah, a base camp for the Grand Canyon, has asked tourists not to visit the place. This is because the number of COVID19 cases is increasing rapidly, and the government lacks the necessary health facilities.
Make sure your destination has proper health facilities and can treat COVID19 patients in case of emergency.
6. Learn About Personal Hygiene
The significance of personal hygiene is more important in these conditions. Mountaineers must maintain their hygiene level at higher altitudes.
‘Leave No Trace’ is more important than ever. Along with this, local climbing codes can also provide support in elaborating the hygienic activities during trekking.
7. Bring Your Own Food
It may sound bizarre to show up with your own food, but it is essential for your safety. Make sure that you have packed plenty of food for the trip.
Try to pack foods that are light in weight and high in energy. Many companies are selling tinned and cooked meals for mountaineering trips. It is essential to carry rations for the emergency, as you may have to camp longer due to poor weather.
Make sure that you have all the cutlery and utensils you need for your own use. Sharing these can increase the chances of viral transmission.
8. Prepare for Emergencies
You must be mentally and physically prepare for an emergency. The majority of fatal injury cases occur due to climbers ignoring mountain weather and conditions. Don’t forget to find out about Montagna Law on their site and contact them for more advice.
Every individual must carry an emergency shelter in case of extreme weather. Along with this, there should be an emergency plan shared with all the members of the party. Plan a mountaineering trip in the same way you’d plan your university work. Remember, help is always available.
It is essential to locate hospitals and mark other nearby destinations that are reachable. Do this before you travel.
9. Arrange Enough Oxygen
Many people die while trekking due to altitude mountain sickness, which is generally caused by lower air pressure. At a higher altitude, air pressure can get very low, which causes breathing difficulties.
The best option is to carry oxygen cylinders. But in recent times, many countries and areas have suffered from a shortage of oxygen. Therefore, make sure to arrange your oxygen cylinder before reaching the host country.
Draft an alternative plan in case your first plan fails or is affected by unpredictable circumstances.
10. Adhere to Official Guidelines
Before planning and reaching your destination, make sure you have complete knowledge of the area. Check local newspapers and channels to acquire firsthand knowledge regarding the most recent conditions.
Ensure that you are aware of all the recent guidelines published by the government and regulatory authorities. Scrutinize these guidelines before travel. They may include details regarding being vaccinated, or the fact trekking is on hold.
Wrapping it up
Mountain trekking is an extreme sport, and not everyone is fond of it. But now the pandemic is easing off, more people are getting involved in adventurous sports, increasing the crowds at base camps and trekking sites.
People are getting vaccinated, but the threat of viral spread is still present. This is why you must maintain safety protocols while trekking for your own health and safety. Despite all the strict instructions and control, the virus is still spreading in many areas.
Maintaining social distancing while trekking is an arduous task. But it can be achieved by following a few simple tactics. This can include using your own food utensils and apply sanitizer after sharing a surface.
I hope the strategies that I have mentioned above will help you in following COVID19 precautions. If you have any other tips, then please do tell me.