Here’s a newsflash – the depths of winter are most certainly not the ideal times for organising triathlons. That is of course, unless you’re happy to hack through the ice to complete the swimming portion of the course, which chances are wouldn’t end well.
Instead, this is the time of year the UK’s triathletes look to alternative pursuits to keep them fit and healthy until the big thaw sets in a few months from now. And while a great many sports are totally off the cards during the icy winter months, long walks and hikes certainly aren’t.
It might sound a little on the obvious side, but the importance of taking extra precautions on winter hikes simply cannot be overstated. Each year, ultra-experienced hikers end up facing incredibly hazardous situations having taken things for granted at exactly the wrong time – amateurs and those with interests that lie elsewhere therefore needing to be especially careful.
So if you’re planning to head out and about in the snow until triathlon season starts up again, here’s a quick overview of the most important tips for staying safe and happy:
1 – Think Onion
The old cliché that’s still the best advice of all – think like an onion and dress in layers. Throughout the course of the hike you’re going to get cold, red hot, sweaty, damp, cold again, hot again and so on. As such, you need to be able to swap and change layers as and when necessary, as opposed to just wearing one big thick jacket that either means you’re roasting or half-naked.
2 – Remember the Journey Home
Don’t forget that no matter where it is you plan to hike to, you’ve then got to think about getting back. It’s common for hikers to lose a fair bit of time along the way and find themselves having to turn back before getting to their final destination – the last thing you want is to end up stranded in darkness, bad weather or both.
3 – Watch the Weather
Speaking of weather, it’s not like the Great British meteorologists get things right with any degree of consistency, but it’s still a risk you don’t want to take. If they say it’s going to be -15 degrees, there may be a blizzard on the horizon or the ground is covered with sheet ice, don’t bother.
4 – The Right Gear
From your boots to your socks to your hat to your gloves and so on and so forth, never assume that the gear you walk/train in during the rest of the year will be suitable for the winter. There’s a ton of specialist winter gear out there for a reason, so use it.
5 – Buddy Up
Last but not least, you’ll make the hike a million times more pleasant and safer to boot by taking someone along for the ride with you – ideally someone with experience. But if for whatever the reason you simply cannot persuade anyone to go along with you, tell someone where you are going, when you plan to be back and when to raise the alarm if you don’t turn up. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.