Prudence in the mountains, united in winter too

To use an old football saying, we could say “don’t change a winning team… just broaden it”. In the summer the SAT (Tridentine Mountaineering Society), Association of Trentino Mountain Huts, Committee of Alpine Guides, Trentino Alpine and Speleological Rescue, UNESCO Dolomites Foundation and Trentino Marketing started up the “Prudence in the mountains” project; together with the Trentino Ski Instructors Provincial Association, the Territorial Structure Plan (PAT) and the law enforcement they are now launching the winter version.

Inverno nelle Dolomiti

Ph. Lorenzo Barbante

Questions, and answers

The campaign intends to promote prudence and awareness among those who go to the mountains in the winter months to ski or do ski mountaineering, walk in snowshoes, ski off-piste or go ice climbing, all activities that can be done in the mountains, in an effort to reduce personal risks to a minimum and maximise the ability to interpret objective risks, while also being aware that, in the mountains, there’s no such thing as ‘zero risk’. The decision to talk about “prudence” and not “safety” is a way of avoiding giving those who come to the mountains the impression that a totally risk-free experience can be guaranteed, irrespective of personal conditions and the changes that are always possible to the natural conditions.

In order to reach the largest number of people, the campaign promoters used an FAQ-style model, focusing on the most frequently asked questions (or those that should be asked!) by those who want to experience the mountains in winter, starting of course with how to correctly interpret weather forecasts and snow and avalanche bulletins, and providing clear indications of when is the best time to consult them.

For each activity, various doubts are dispelled: the rules on ski slopes and how to read the level of difficulty, suitable equipment for ski mountaineering, how to behave on snowshoes on unmarked routes, and who to turn to in order to learn to ice climb, to give just a few examples.

Before any evaluation, it’s important to first assess your own degree of preparation, experience in the using the equipment, and knowledge of the land and the snow cover. For this it is indispensable to always trust the experience and advice of the Alpine guides and those who live and work in the mountains.

A clear message

The experience of the “Prudence in the mountains” project has an added value that should not be underestimated, which is the synergy between all those involved who, in their various jobs, deal with the people visiting the mountain area: starting from the same vision of what is meant by “prudence”, sharing the messages to be conveyed and choosing clear language, makes a crucial contribution to avoiding overlapping information and ambiguity, giving visitors to the mountains a single, consistent message that, it is hoped, will be even more effective in preventing accidents in the snow.