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Outdoor Tips

Outdoors Tips:

How to select an Adventure Travel Operator
Adventure comes with its own thrill and also risk, Adventure not necessarily means putting oneself through uncalculated risks, hence choosing the right adventure travel operator or service provider is very important to have a good adventure outing in the safest way

When one is planning to take up any adventure activity, getting information on the operator should be a priority. Here is an operator checklist for your reference that you should ask the operator of your choice:

  • Basic/Advance certification from institutes recognized by Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India
  • Experience in Outdoor & Adventure activities
  • Customer/Participant Reference
  • Individual insurance cover if any
  • Quality/Brand/Certification of Adventure equipment used
  • Risk Assessment Capability
  • Safety & Rescue Plan
  • Affiliation & Association

Outdoor Basics

  • Do not carry or consume narcotic drugs, cigarettes or alcohol
  • Show respect to nature and fellow Trekkers and cooperate with each other
  • Follow “Leave No Trace” policy, never throw or leave anything en-route or at camp area
  • Collect all waste in the garbage bag & bring it back
  • Do not shout, spit around, sing or use transistors or music systems
  • Do not collect any souvenirs such as plants or animal parts
  • Never consume any medicine without prescription
  • Never hide any health related problems
  • Inform the group if you are allergic to anything or if you are sleepwalker or have phobias
  • If lost, stay at the same spot and keep blowing the whistle at regular interval till the rescue party arrives
  • Make cat-holes/pit to attend to nature call and cover it back with soil/snow
  • Reach the destination well before dark
  • Be independent, carry your own backpack

Dress Code

  • Wear comfortable light cotton trousers/pants/tracks
  • Wear light full sleeve T-shirt to avoid tanning
  • Wear only sneakers/sports/trekking shoes
  • Hat/cap/bandanna to keep off sun burn
  • Sweater/Jacket in winter
  • Wind cheater/ Rain coat/Poncho during rains

What to carry individually

  • Carry a single Rucksack/Backpack
  • Extra pairs of Socks, Undergarments, T-shirts, Trousers/Tracks, Towel
  • Leech proof socks (during monsoon)
  • Extra pair of Sandals/Slippers (do not wear during the trek)
  • Water bottle at least 2 liter capacity
  • Toiletries – Sun screen lotion, Soap, Toothpaste, Hair brush, Toilet paper, etc
  • Garbage bags for collecting garbage back
  • Take dry snacks like - Dry fruits, Chocolates
  • Glucose &Electral packets
  • Personal Medicines (as needed)
  • Torch with batteries
  • Binoculars & Camera
  • Whistle
  • Note pad and pen
  • Sleeping bag & Sleeping mat
  • Mosquito/Insect repellent
  • Tobacco, Salt, etc, to ward off leeches during monsoon

What to carry for the group

  • First aid kit
  • Cotton Roll
  • Dettol/Savlon
  • Band-aids
  • Clean Cloth
  • Crepe Bandage
  • Antiseptic Ointments
  • Pain reliever/Balm
  • General Medicines
  • Nail Cutter, Scissors, Tweezers
  • Can/Bottle opener
  • Medium size knife/Army knife
  • Nails and jute yarn to make stretcher
  • Rope length
  • Match box, Lighter, Solar lights or Candles
  • Tissue Paper
  • Route- Map, GPS, Walkie-talkie & Compass
  • ID cards & Emergency contact details

Preparing for High Altitude Trek
There is a huge difference between hiking on flat terrain and trekking uphill and downhill or higher altitude. You need to keep in mind that walking for consecutive days is very different from single day walks/treks. Before any big trek, it is always good to increase physical fitness levels, the key to training lies in slow but steady progress.

Suggested plan to prepare for High Altitude Treks:

  • Start with 2-4 kms and increase to 6-10 kms per day
  • Breathing exercises or Yoga
  • Swim for at least 2-3 hours every week
  • Increase the length of the walk and carrying a back pack and increase weight of the back pack
  • Check the BP levels before and after treks
  • Check pulse rate and sugar levels
  • Maintain a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Consume more liquids at regular intervals
  • Consult a doctor and get a complete medical check-up done

General Health in Outdoors
Stomach: Loss of appetite is very common during long trips, and especially at higher altitudes, but one must take small quantities of food at regular intervals if you do not feel too hungry at all.

Before you go:

  • Carry good quantity of water
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Rehydration sachets is very important
  • Take some snacks to eat if you are off food
  • Always wash your hands

Ears & Nose: Ascending to higher altitude can increase problems to ears and nose, you could have blockage, sunburn and also in very low temperature they are venerable to cold injuries/frost bites.

  • Carry a pack of soft tissues and wipes to keep the nose clean and dry
  • Keep ears covered closed on low temperature, but not always
  • Wear a cap, use sun block/cream
  • If possible wear improvised sunglasses with nose guard
  • Blow your nose regularly and keep it clean

Rest/Sleep: Good rest is very necessary when one is on any adventure trip, even though at higher altitudes there could be disturbed sleep in the first few nights getting good rest is a must. Better acclimatization process usually improves sleep.

  • Invest in a quality sleeping bag and mat, have a separate sleeping bag for higher altitude
  • Carry a pair of ear plugs to aid sleep
  • Expect the need to sleep more

Skin: Skin is under constant strain during outdoor activities, exposure to sun and cold weather can lead to excess tanning, dryness and skin problems. Skin needs intense protection and nourishment.

  • Use a good brand of sunscreen (SPF 15-60)
  • Keep extra pairs of warm gloves, socks, hat
  • Keep hands and feet dry, change wet gloves / socks quickly
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Apply sunscreen/block and moisturizer
  • Cover up from sun/clod/ wind

Eyes: Outdoor activities come with the challenge sun light and UV radiation and at higher altitude it can burn the eyes if they are not protected. Good pair of sunglasses is necessary even when it is cloudy, as UV rays can get through clouds. On glaciers or snow covered mountain goggles are mandatory as exposure to reflection may cause temporary blindness.

  • Get a good pair of glacier goggles/glasses
  • In case of contact lenses ensure that it is used clean at all times
  • Wear your goggles when it is bright

Feet: It makes all the difference; as your feet are subjected to a lot of pressure across all type of terrain. Duration of the trek, footwear and weight of the back-pack all impact the feet to an extent of 1.5-2 times the body weight. Sore feet, blisters, sprain, fungal infection can easily cripple even the best of the trekker, hence:

  • Choose your footwear carefully
  • Invest in a good pair of sturdy and comfortable shoes
  • Never wear a brand new pair of shoes for the trek
  • Always were the best fit and a good pair of clean socks
  • Wash your feet and dry it when you are camping

Heart: Trekking in higher altitude/steep trails/long duration can have several affects on your heart. Blood pressure levels may go up during treks/hikes even in lower altitudes. It higher altitude due to the increase in red blood cells (produced to carry more oxygen), it may result in blood thickening, making the circulation slower, hence drinking plenty of fluids is very critical.

Heart patients, people with BP complains (both high & low) should consult a doctor and take mandatory medical check-up and medicines before taking up any strenuous trekking activity.

High Altitude Management
Mountain Sickness or Altitude Sickness occurs in low atmospheric pressure conditions and not necessarily in low oxygen conditions at sea level pressure.
Although treatable to some extent by the administration of oxygen, most of the symptoms do not appear to be caused by low oxygen, but rather by the low CO2 levels causing a rise in blood pH. The percentage of oxygen in air remains essentially constant with altitude at 21% up until 21330 Ft. Air pressure (and therefore the number of oxygen molecules) drops as altitude increases - consequently, the available amount of oxygen to sustain mental and physical alertness decreases above 3050 meters.

Altitude sickness usually does not affect persons traveling in aircraft because modern aircraft passenger compartments are pressurized at an air pressure equivalent to an altitude of 2440 meters.

High Altitude
High altitude can be defined as an altitude where there is an increase in atmospheric pressure leading to lower oxygen molecules in air.

  • Temp ↑se ↔ Air expand ↔ Pressure ↓se
  • Temp ↓se ↔ Air dense ↔ Pressure ↑se
  • Normal physiologic changes occur at high altitudes
  • Hyperventilation (breathing faster, deeper or both) 
  • Shortness of breath during exertion
  • Normal physiologic changes occur at high altitudes
  • Hyperventilation (breathing faster, deeper or both)
  • Shortness of breath during exertion
  • Changed breathing pattern at night
  • Increased urination

Types of High Altitude Illness

  • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
  • High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) - affects the Lungs
  • High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) - affects the Brain

AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)
The condition indicates that your body is not being acclimatized to its current altitude. An ‘ideal’ altitude where your body is in balance will most likely be the last elevation at which you slept.

Symptoms:
Headache is a primary symptom of altitude sickness, but headache can also be due to dehydration
Headache occurring at an altitude above 2400 meters combined with one or more of the following symptoms, can indicate altitude sickness

  • Lack of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Insomnia
  • Pins and needles
  • Shortness of breath upon exertion
  • Persistent rapid pulse
  • Drowsiness
  • General malaise
  • Peripheral edema (swelling of hands, feet, face)

HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema)
This is another form of severe altitude that results in fluid in the lungs. It often occurs with AMS, it is not felt to be related and the classic signs of AMS may be absent.

Symptoms:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Breathlessness at rest
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Cough, possibly productive of frothy or pink sputum
  • Gurgling or rattling breaths
  • Chest tightness, fullness, or congestion
  • Blue or gray lips or fingernails
  • Drowsiness

HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema)
Mountain sickness can be from mild to life-threatening. At the "severely ill" end is a condition called HACE; this is when the brain swells and ceases to function properly.

HACE can progress rapidly, and can be fatal in a matter of a few hours to one or two days.

Persons with this illness are often confused, and may not recognize that they are ill.

Symptoms:

  • Headache that does not respond to analgesics
  • Unsteady gait
  • Increased vomiting
  • Gradual loss of consciousness

HADE (High Altitude Dumb Edema)
HADE causes temporary intelligence loss due to reduced oxygen in the blood supplying the brain. Unlike HACE and HAPE, HADE often occurs at modest altitudes and can be artificially induced even at sea level by drinking too much beer.

Hypothermia
Hypothermia is a result of low body temperature caused by cold ambient temperature; the most common cause of death in the wilderness.

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