Warnings of mountain rescuers

(Tips for those, who are going to the Carpathians)

Summer is a time of the tourists' greatest activity. Everyone is going to the mountains: those, who have been tramping the Carpathians' tracks for dozens of years, people, who have just finished studying at universities and colleges and decided to have a good rest with friends amongst the mountain nature, entire classes of children, who have never seen the mountains, under the guidance of teachers, and families with small children.

But mountains, even in summer, conceal a potential danger. This is especially true for highlands. Therefore, the Carpathian mountain rescue team considers it necessary to warn too high-spirited against insufficiently considered "attacks" of the mountains.

Definitely, hiking is needed. Carpathians are a great gift from God to us, though we should never treat them with insolence. If they "are offended", they become "angry", frigid and dangerous.

So, what can be the danger in summer from the slopes covered with forests and silky herbs?

The most dangerous is highland area, located over the forest zone (1350-1500 m above the sea level). Here one is always endangered to be caught by the hurricane wind in storm, with the speed of 40-45 m/sec., often by snow or sleet in summer (Hutsuls call this phenomenon as "sharga"). One can get lost here and go out to the abrupt slopes in conditions of limited visibility. In the Carpathian Mountains, almost everywhere over the forest zone, dozens of kilometres are grown over with mountain pine, called by botanists as "pinus mugo", and as "zherep" by Hutsuls. Especially large areas of mountain pines are in Gorgany. Walking through the endless mountain pines may exhaust an unexperienced tourist till death and hide his/her body in its thicket for many years. Stones in highlands are equally dangerous. In rainy weather they become slippery and insidious. Carrying a heavy backpack, one can break/sprain his/her foot or easily get disoriented, in this realm of stones, covered with moss.

Be very attentive during the period of heavy rains. They are common for the entire summer-autumn period. Streams and rivers swell so much, that on overstepping an almost imperceptible mountain stream on the route, after the rainfall on your way back, you'll see a fierce mountain stream with rolling stones and nasty brown water mass, being frequently impossible to cross.

If you want your tourist trip to be a pleasure, you should remember these 16 rules on how to behave in mountains:

  1. Don't go to the mountains alone. It is very dangerous. Sometimes, the chance of survival in mountains is 50 : 50. It is the most important rule, violation of which annually leads to deaths of young people in the Carpathians.
  2. Before going to the mountains, make sure that none of your friends have problems with blood pressure, heart diseases and diabetes. In any case, keep the first aid kit with the most needed medication.
  3. If you have never been to mountains and can't join the experienced tourists, you should reserve the service of the professional guide, who will not only safely guide you through the most interesting paths, but will tell you about everything on your way.
  4. If you take children, especially somebody else's, to the mountains, you should remember about your responsibility to their parents, your conscience and to God.
  5. Don't combine picnics, barbecues, drinking alcohol with climbing. It's better to be engaged in these just outdoors, in the picturesque countryside, near civilization. The tops should be crested only by sober people.
  6. First of all, planning to go to the Carpathians, choose your route through less saturated highlands. It should be chosen depending on the level of your experience and your tourist equipment. Do not try to get around and see everything at once. You have a lifetime ahead.
  7. Spend several dozens of hryvnias for the purchase of compass and topographic maps at a scale of 1:50 000 "Tourist routes of Chornogora" and "Central Gorgany". If you don't know where to buy it — contact me, I'll inform you via e-mail.
  8. Before starting your route, don't forget to find out the weather forecast for this or that region.
  9. Follow the route, don't get into the wilds, there you may run into a female bear, it is especially dangerous when it has bear cubs, also avoid meeting the wild boar. In summer it is almost impossible to meet wolf or lynx in the forest. Don't attempt to go where tourists rarely step, there is a risk to get into the forgotten by poacher trap or noose.
  10. Never try to walk through the thicket of mountain pines without a clear path and don't go deeper than 5-10 m.
  11. Watch your step at mountain trails, especially after the rain, not to step on the adder's tail, which abound in the Carpathians, even in highlands. Remember that so-called red snake (the Aesculapian snake) is the most dangerous, black and grey are less poisonous.
  12. With the worsening of weather go down, not up in the mountains. When the storm is about to happen, quickly run into the valley, away from the metal objects, the number of which is big in the mountains.
  13. Don't get tempted to slide down the snow slopes, which are frequently preserved till the end of summer in Chornogora. Neither make photos on snow cornices and walk on snow bridges, formed below the waterfalls.
  14. Don't climb the rocks and blocks without insurance (Shpytsi, Pysanyi Kamin, Smotrych, Vuhatyi Kamin, The Rocks of Dovbush)
  15. Don't lodge for the night high in the mountains (on the peaks), from where, in case of emergency, it is complicated to go down.
  16. Write down the contact numbers of mountain search and rescue units of the region where you are going to travel. Feel free to write down home phone numbers of their officers. In case of urgency, even the night call to the officer of the mountain rescue team won't be awkward.

For items 3, 6, 7, 8 and 16 everyone is welcome to contact me. (096) 3724400 or via e-mail: skala2002@ukr.net.

Mountain Rescue Service wishes you interesting routes, light backpacks, good weather and a nice trip.

The information is kindly provided by Verkhovyna Tourist Information Centre.