Some useful tips for hiking in the Alps

1. Start preparing your hike at home!

Maybe you don’t know, but in the mountains you can’t rely on Google Maps…
So if you fancy to go hiking this summer, you can already by prepping your itinerary!

Things to consider while planning your trip

  • What is your level?
  • How long do you want to go?
  • Is there a protected wild area?
  • Are you hiking with kids and/or dogs?
  • Do you or your hiking buddies have vertigo?
  • Is there a place to hide in case the weather suddenly changes?
  • Can you take a short cut when you are too tired to carry on…

Note: Map reading could be challenging, but with some patience & perseverance you’ll learn and enjoy it! I also wrote a blog about how I found out that map reading is an essential skill when you want to spend time in the mountains… https://famkevanderelst.com/google-maps-wegwijzers-of-bergwandelgids-en/

2. Check out the weather forecast!

People ask me often which forecast they should trust.
I am tended to answer that MeteoSwiss is the best, however even for these people sometimes it’s hard to predict.

I always check 3 forecasts:

  1. MeteoSwiss (only Switzerland, when in France use Météo France)
  2. MeteoBlue
  3. WeatherPro

-> Match them with your own observations (start following the forecast a couple of days before and check if the predictions are right)

3. Weather is changing fast in the mountains

To prevent yourself from a less pleasant surprise, I recommend you to keep an eye out for the following signs during your hike.
* The form of the clouds : Cumulonimbus -> Thunderstorm  in the making !
* Cirrus followed by a wall of clouds -> Cold front on its way!
* Is the wind increasing quickly?
* Does your altimeter tells you that your 50 meters higher whereas you stayed at the same level -> The weather is degrading fast!
                    -> Calibrate your altimeter every time when you know the exact altitude
                    -> Check beforehand where to hide in case the weather change comes faster than expected…

4. How to act when there is a thunderstorm on its way?

Thunderstorms can be pretty frightening and dangerous, so better think about it before getting caught in one.
This little checklist may help you to react immediately and avoid a serious emergency.

1. Check the weather forecast. Thunderstorms arrive during usually in the afternoon, so keep that in mind while planning your hike.
During your hike, keep an eye on the clouds (see tip 3) and lightning, and always listen for thunder.

2. 30 seconds: If the sound of thunder comes less than 30 seconds after the flash, you need to find shelter immediately.

3. Shelter: Mountain hut, stable, depression in terrain

4. No-go-area: Summit, ridge, lone tree, near objects that are taller than anything else around it.

5. Metals: Put your backpack away and anything metal as well.

6. The lightening position: When you haven’t found a shelter, try to minimize the size of your body. Crouch down with your feet close together. 

7. Spread out!  When you’re hiking with a group: Keep at least 15m. distance between every person in your group.


5. Packing list for a day-hike

✔ Warm clothes

✔ Rainwear

✔ Evt. poles

✔ Map, compass, your phone

✔ First aid kit, duct tape

✔ Picknick

✔ Suncream, sunglasses and a hat/cap

✔  Picknick and snacks

✔ Water (at least 2 liter per person)

 Have fun !

(Have more fun and book a trip with me!)