When the season changes and it snows or the snow just hasn’t melted off the mountain yet you need to know how to handle it. It mainly comes down to gear and staying away from areas that are avalanche prone. So this piece is for those that have never hiked in the snow before.
It can be dangerous if you so not have the right gear. First of all you need hiking boots. This should be obvious, but unfortunately it is not. I see people in tennis shoes all the time, yes, even in the snow. A friend of mine climbed to Camp Muir on Rainier in his Gucci boots. Yes, that happened!
Then you need some kind of traction device for your boots. There are three. First Yaktrax, which are the minimum necessary. They consist of rubber and wire and are the least expensive. You pull them over your boots. The next choice is Microspikes. These are similar to Yaktrax but have tiny spikes which give you much better traction and they las much longer than Yaktrax. Finally, you could get a set of crampons but that is probably not necessary unless you are climbing a mountain like Rainier.
Be sure to dress in layers so that you can peel them off. It is easy to overdress, get wet from sweat and then get cold quick.
So there you have it. All you need to enjoy the snow. However, some of you might decide to cut corners or just forget to bring something.
I climb Mt Si every week from March through May. There is usually still snow and ice on the mountain in March, but it is not an avalanche area and pretty safe. That is why I stay with it for three months until the snow melts elsewhere.
Last year I headed out the door with what I thought was all my gear, but I had forgotten my Microsipkes. I did not realize I didn’t have them until I reached the trailhead. So do I just go home or see how far I can go. The snow was not significant so I thought I would give it a shot. Going up was pretty easy. Keep that in mind. I knew this already, but it was so easy going up. Once I started down I felt pretty smug. I had gotten to the top without any traction. Then suddenly, I slipped, my feet went out from under me and I went down. As I always do (yes I have fallen before), I laid there for a few minutes to see if I had broken anything. As it turned out I broke a rib. So the moral to the story is make sure you have a check list of items to bring with you ad use it.
Life and Going Hiking In The Snow
So it is pretty easy to apply this to life. If you do not have the right tools to do a job then it either won’t get done as quickly, as well, or it will end in disaster. Be prepared! As Jocko Willink says, “One is none and two is one.” I take two head lamps on every hike, because I begin hiking before sunrise and don’t want to run out of batteries in the middle of a dark mountain.
It is also a good example of preparation matching the challenge. If you are going hiking in the snow then you need to be more prepared than when it is dry ground. There are gradients of preparation too. If it is raining you have to demonstrate more caution when negotiating slippery areas. So keep all this mind when you face challenges and of course go hiking!