More snow than we’ve seen for years, ski lifts inactive for ages, and a longing to go outdoors as soon as the anti-Covid measures permit it – even by those who are poorly equipped or unprepared. Add to this the significant danger of avalanches after heavy snowfalls, and you see why the CAI and Alpine Rescue service are asking people to approach the mountains in winter in a responsible way. Let’s reiterate the message from the Veneto Alpine Rescue.
And not repeat the mistakes of the summer
The appeal from CNSAS Veneto relates to what happened last summer: “When things reopened in May after the lockdown, and throughout the summer into the autumn, there were huge crowds visiting our mountains, with more call-outs in 2020 than we’ve ever seen before. Unfortunately, many of these emergencies were associated with a superficial attitude, lack of preparedness, and inadequate clothing and equipment.” The fear is that winter will see the same situation with ski mountaineers, snowshoers and novice hikers, who can put themselves in situations of risk.
Make sure you’re fully informed
As the CNSAS writes: “If you’re planning to go out in the snow, please contact the Alpine Guides and CAI instructors for information, and check whether you can carry out outdoor activities or take part in courses under the terms of the current anti-Covid regulations. Never go out without checking the weather forecast and snow/avalanche warnings, get detailed reports for your destination, carry self-rescue devices – avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe – if you’re venturing off the beaten track, wear suitable clothing and footwear, and choose routes within your physical and psychological capacity.”
Healthcare professionals are already battling Covid
The health sector is already under considerable pressure due to the pandemic, so you really should take extra care, or even contemplate giving up: “Be careful along the route, even if it’s very familiar; stop as soon as you feel that something is wrong and retrace your steps.” If you’re using technical equipment, do this in a reasonable and competent way: “Remember that spikes, chains and the like are only suitable for flat roads or slightly sloping terrain. In all other cases, always wear crampons, fixing them onto your mountain boots as instructed by the maker. On more demanding routes at high altitude, add an ice axe to your crampons, and only set off if you’re familiar with mountaineering techniques and used to getting about in winter.”
Ph. Dimitri De Gol