Dangers in the mountains

Mountains live their own lives, giving rise to a number of objective and subjective dangers to humans. Stones are crumbling, glaciers are cracking, and as a result of their melting rivers are raging, replenished with rain. Snow, accumulating at the top, tends to slide down in formidable avalanches. Coming to the mountains, a person himself brings danger ...

When going on a hike, trip or climbing, you need to be aware of the dangers in the mountains in order to try to avoid them.

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Dangers associated with mountainous terrain


Most often, avalanches occur in winter and spring, but in the highlands the danger exists throughout the year. The most dangerous slopes are of medium steepness - 30-50 degrees. On such slopes, 30-50 cm of snow cover is sufficient for the formation of avalanches. There have been cases of avalanches on slopes of only 12-15 degrees. On slopes steeper than 60 degrees, the likelihood of avalanches is low. fresh snow slides down without accumulating. Avalanches are: dry, wet, snowy boards.

Dry avalanches usually form at low temperatures after heavy snowfall. The speed of these avalanches is maximum. A powerful air wave can be generated.

Wet avalanches, as a rule, are formed when winter or spring snow melts, or snow falls at positive temperatures. These avalanches are very dangerous. Although their speed is less, the density is very high.

Snow boards are the most insidious type of avalanche. This is a crust not bonded to the lower layers of snow. As a rule, they appear during a period of sharp cooling after snowfalls, even minor ones.

A sign of immediate avalanche danger is the presence of avalanche cones in the lower part of the slope, which turns into a valley, and the characteristic ramparts at the foot of the slope are evidence of the regular avalanches from wet snow. They consist of stones, turf, tree parts, grass. An avalanche snowfield can persist for a long time, sometimes until next spring.

In April-May, you should consult with the Control and Rescue Service (CRS) about the avalanche hazard of your chosen route.

Precautionary measures:

  • If it is impossible to change the route, cross the dangerous slopes at the top
  • Pass short sections with insurance
  • Long sections pass one by one with the obligatory use of an avalanche cord
  • When climbing or descending an avalanche-prone slope, the movement is carried out "head-on", it is impossible to "cut" the slope
  • Go through dangerous areas in the morning or even at night

Actions during an avalanche:

  • Quickly get rid of your backpack, ice ax
  • Using swimming motions try to stay on the surface of the avalanche
  • After the avalanche has stopped, spread the snow near your face with your hands as much as possible, making an "air bag", protect your chest with your hands in order to maintain its mobility when the snow freezes
  • Find a clearer area of snow, if possible. Try to get through there
  • If no gaps are visible, try to determine the up-down direction (for example, feel where saliva flows) and break through
  • Do not waste time and energy on empty screams

Search work must be carried out quickly and not stop until the victims are rescued (there are known cases of living people being in avalanches for several days). If you cannot reach people trapped in an avalanche after 30 minutes, call for help. From the nearest tourist centers, alpine camps, settlements, call the rescuers of the search detachment. Those who remain must continue to try to save themselves.


Rockfalls are the most frequent danger in the mountains in summer. Rocks are destroyed when interacting with water and vegetation. The stone can be thrown off by gusts of wind, careless actions of people, animals and birds, and even a lightning strike. Rockfalls are most likely in the morning and evening.

Remember (!) the natural ways of rolling stones: couloirs, gutters, steep beds of dried up streams. Therefore, it is advisable to bypass these places.

Precautionary measures:

  • Avoid couloirs, natural stone piles
  • In no case should you stop in places bearing traces of impacts of falling stones
  • Do not camp near rocky and talus slopes
  • Have safety helmets with you
  • Cross places where rockfall is possible, quickly, one by one, being on the alert
  • Before starting the movement, consider what to do in case of falling stones

Actions when hitting a rockfall:

  • Try to hide behind a rocky ledge, large rock, or bend in a slope
  • If there is not enough space for shelter, a backpack removed and placed in front of itself will soften and weaken the impact (this is possible if the falling stone has an insignificant size and low speed)
  • The first one who sees a flying stone must shout loudly "Stone!" warn comrades of danger

Ice and cornice collapse

The danger of a collapse can be identified by the accumulation of broken ice on the glacier below the slope.

Snow cornices (pressures) are formed over the leeward slope as a result of the influence of the prevailing winds in the area. With a change in temperature, wind direction, the destruction of the cornice can occur. Its fall can cause an avalanche.

Precautionary measures:

  • Pass the dangerous section without stopping, preferably in the morning
  • Move, if possible, along ridges and ribs
  • Do not go to the bottom of the eaves without belay, find workarounds

Closed glacier

Falls into cracks are possible when driving on closed glaciers. Most often, cracks occur at the bends of the glacier bed, at the bends. Snow color is not indicative of cracks.

Precautionary measures:

  • Even on a seemingly harmless glacier, move in bundles (a bundle of three is optimal)
  • Do not let the rope sag, do not hold more than one ring in your hands
  • The first in the bundle probes the snow with an ice ax, the rest follow the trail
  • Do not move along the crack (the whole bundle can fail)
  • If there is no confidence in the strength of the bridge, the first member of the bridle must overcome it without a backpack, perhaps even crawling

Actions upon hitting a crack:

  • If someone from the group gets into the crack, don't panic!
  • Secure the rope securely, carefully approach (crawl) to the crack and choose a rescue method
  • Do not forget about insurance (keep in mind that cracks are often filled with water, i.e. you have little time left)
  • Act quickly but wisely


In July – August, the volume of melt water on the glaciers increases. There is a flood of streams and rivers, lakes overflow. As a rule, in the second half of the day or in the evening, the soil soaked in water loses its strength, stability and streams arise that carry a lot of loose soil, stones, branches, etc., reaching a speed of 20-40 km/h. This stream crushes everything on the way.

Debris flow areas are usually well known. Check with your local CRS before going on a hike.

Precautionary measures:

  • Mindful of the threat of mudflows, drive with caution and cross riverbeds during the summer months, especially in the afternoon
  • When setting up camp, remember that mudflows can occur at night

Actions during mudflow:

  • Climb up the slope by dropping your backpack if it slows down
  • Follow an imaginary line of falling water trying to gain altitude quickly

Mountain river

The peculiarity of mountain rivers is determined by two factors - the origin and the speed of the current. The main share of the water flowing in mountain rivers is the result of melting ice and snow. The water temperature in the summer months at an altitude of 3,000 meters does not exceed 5°C. The speed of the water flow is 2-4 meters per second. At this rate, the water carries along stones of different sizes.

When developing a trekking plan, keep in mind that the water level in the rivers is minimum in the morning and maximum in the late evening. On which bank of the river you decide to camp in the evening, it depends on how you will feel in the morning. Or sleep in a dry, warm sleeping bag and cross the shallow water in the morning, or, having worn out in the evening with a crossing in high water and after a restless night, continue the journey not rested.

An improperly organized crossing, excessive arrogance often leads to disaster.

Actions during the crossing of a mountain river:

  • When directing a crossing over a mountain river, take care of insurance and minimal briefing of participants
  • Do not cross the river barefoot, leaving your shoes dry - this is fraught with injuries to the feet from sharp stones (crossing in shoes makes further movement unpleasant and can lead to the development of scuffs, but this is not as scary as injury)

Dangers related to climatic and natural conditions

Altitude (hypoxia and altitude sickness)

Hypoxia – a lack of oxygen in the tissues – is the cause of weakness, deterioration in health, and decreased performance. Thus, rocks at an altitude of 3,000 m can be easily overcome, and at an altitude of 5,000 – 6,000 m they can become an obstacle. Hypoxia can lead to altitude sickness.

At altitude, due to a lack of oxygen, shortness of breath occurs even with a small load, and efficiency decreases. The process of absorption of water and nutrients, the secretion of gastric juice is disrupted. Fats are especially poorly absorbed. Decreased visual acuity, vision "clouded", weakened night vision. There is a rapid development of the process of dehydration of the body. Moisture loss reaches 7-10 liters per day. Oxygen starvation of brain cells occurs, which causes mental disorders. Thermoregulation of the body changes, the possibility of frostbite increases. Pain sensitivity weakens up to its complete loss. Inflammation of the lungs develops, often leading to death.

Precautionary measures before climbing:

  • Travel limitation
  • Regular workouts before travel
  • Excellent physical condition of the tourist
  • Medical examination before the hike
  • You can not go to the mountains after the flu, pneumonia, sore throat
  • The recommended diet is up to 5,000 calories (and the carbohydrate content should be increased by 10% and, first of all, glucose
  • Fluid consumption of at least 4-5 liters per day
  • Increasing the dose of vitamin B, C, PP, folic acid, vitamin A (it is useful to take ginseng, eleutherococcus, acclimatizin - a mixture of eleutherococcus, lemongrass and yellow sugar)

It must be remembered that this disease can manifest itself both suddenly and gradually. Before a sharp deterioration in the condition, there may be a stage of excitement, euphoria, reminiscent of oxygen intoxication. There is a feeling of one's own strength, power. The patient becomes talkative, cheerful, cannot really assess the situation, followed by depression, fantastic images and forebodings appear. The patient himself believes that his brain works well.

Actions during the hike:

  • When climbing together, you need to carefully monitor the health of others
  • When the first signs of illness appear, it is necessary to free the patient from at least part of the load, slow down or even make a stop
  • For headaches, analgin or other medicine should be taken, for nausea and vomiting – aeron, validol, sour fruits and juices, weak tea
  • If you suspect pneumonia, it is necessary to urgently descend from the mountains and take the patient to the hospital

It is necessary (!) to carry out the acclimatization regime.

Highlands (altitude over 3,000 m) are subdivided into zones:

  • Full acclimatization zone – up to 5,300 m
  • Zone of incomplete acclimatization – up to 6,000 m (with a long stay – for several months – fatigue, weight loss, muscle tissue atrophy develop)
  • Adaptation zone – up to 7,000 m (allows a person to be in it for only a short time)
  • Zone of partial adaptation – up to 8,000 m (time limit for staying in it)
  • Imiting (lethal) zone – over 8,000 m (a person's resistance to the action of altitude is lost after 2-3 days)

The listed levels can vary within 500 – 1,000 m depending on the action of additional factors and individual characteristics of the human body. Some people already feel the signs of altitude sickness at an altitude of 2,100 – 2,400 m.


Either a direct injury to a person by lightning is dangerous, or the occurrence of currents in the body due to electromagnetic induction from a nearby discharge.

Signs of danger – effects associated with an increase in the strength of the electric field: itching of the scalp, hair stirring, buzzing of metal objects, discharges at the sharp ends of equipment.

Precautionary measures:

  • Before a thunderstorm begins, descend from a summit, ridge or other hill
  • Avoid streams along gutters, couloirs, crevices
  • Do not lean against the wall, do not hide in rock niches, in small holes, depressions on a rock
  • Do not stay near detached trees (especially dangerous in this respect are oak, spruce, pine, poplar; trees that are less likely to be hit by lightning – birch, maple)

Actions during a thunderstorm:

  • Metal equipment, stoves, wet rope move aside from yourself and others
  • Do not use radio stations
  • Sit on electrically insulating objects
  • Do not move near the fire (the column of heated air has little resistance)


Strong gusty winds are not uncommon in the mountains. The higher the altitude, the more the wind affects people. At an altitude of more than 4,000 m, one can often see tents torn apart by the wind.

  • A sharp increase in wind causes a fall or stall
  • Blizzard or blizzard are dangerous, as they reduce visibility, affect the nervous system, and lead to hypothermia
  • A strong headwind slows down the speed of movement, is physically and mentally exhausting, makes breathing difficult

Temperature and humidity

At elevated ambient temperatures, the body expends a lot of energy and fluid to evaporate and cool. At low temperatures, however, a lot of energy is spent on heating. Accordingly, there is a danger of heatstroke or hypothermia, frostbite.

Precautionary measures:

  • Pay attention to the effects of low temperatures on the body during winter hikes and travel

The sun

This is another danger that lurks in the mountains, as the proportion of ultraviolet rays in the spectrum of sunlight increases due to the absence of sources of mountain air pollution and the decrease in the atmosphere layer as it rises.

When ultraviolet rays hit the human skin, they activate the molecules that make up a living cell. The cells are damaged and biologically active substances are released from them, which act on the blood vessels, expanding them. And as a result, you get sunburn on your skin.

Eye burn occurs when you are without protective glasses for a long time in conditions of active sunlight. After 4-6 hours, a person experiences acute pain in the eyes, tearing, eyelid spasm, redness, and vision deterioration. With frequent eye burns, vision can be irreversibly reduced.

Precautionary measures:

  • Use sunglasses
  • In addition to sunscreens with a high UV protection factor, use visors, a scarf or T-shirt, panama or wide-brimmed hat tied around the neck or on the head
  • Protect lips with hygienic lipstick, applying it every 2-3 hours
  • Wipe your lips thoroughly after drinking and do not lick them (the water on the lips plays the role of microlenses that condense the sun's rays and enhance the damaging effect)

Remember (!) severe sunburns get in the fog


In the alpine zone, it often happens even in good weather. The main danger is the loss of visibility and, hence, the difficulty of orientation. The ability of fog to deprive a person of the sense of location is sometimes incredible: you can get lost even in a familiar place. Improves the position of the well-trodden path – accelerates movement.

Actions during fog:

  • Walk carefully, from subject to subject
  • Do not go to the sides

Remember (!) in the fog, the risk of severe sunburn of the skin and eyes increases.


Heavy rainfall can give rise to a mudflow. Making trails and slopes slippery, rain makes it difficult to navigate and increases the risk of injury. Clothing soaked in water does not protect against the cold, and there is an increased risk of catching a cold or being overcooled.

Precautionary measures:

  • Take waterproof and warm shoes and clothes with you (it is better if it is a raincoat with a hood)
  • Get away from riverbeds
  • Drive carefully on slopes and trails


Darkness makes obstacles invisible, strongly distorts and hides danger. At night it is difficult, and often impossible to navigate, movement becomes dangerous and slow.

Actions in the dark:

  • It is allowed to move at night only, if absolutely necessary, with a flashlight and along safe terrain and / or along a previously explored route

Wild animals

First of all, the danger in the mountains is represented by bears, ungulates during the mating period, less often wolves, and even then in flocks in winter, and even less often wild boars. Females with cubs are especially dangerous.

Precautionary measures:

  • Don't get close to baby wild animals

Dangers associated with human misconduct

Accidents in the mountains are due to:

  • Ignorance and non-compliance with safety rules
  • Insufficient knowledge of the route
  • Inconsistency of the chosen route with the forces and experience of the group
  • Insufficient physical and technical training of participants
  • Lack of experience and / or authority of the leader
  • Lack of discipline, clear distribution of responsibilities, coordination in actions, mutual assistance
  • Wrong insurance and / or lack of it
  • Weakening of attention with fatigue
  • Poor quality or incomplete equipment, clothing, shoes
  • Lack and / or poor quality of food and medicine

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The phone number of the rescue service at the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Uzbekistan – 1050

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