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Knowing how to turn around in time

When we do an activity in the middle of nature, such as hiking or trekking, we must be aware, among other things, that we are doing it in a changing natural environment which we cannot control. That is why knowing how to evaluate and manage the risks we face or may face is vital to avoid major problems, always knowing that there is no such thing as zero risk.​

One of the risks we most often face is not knowing when to end a route. It is often said that a timely withdrawal is a battle won and usually the lack of experience, physical preparation and overestimation of our capabilities, are not usually good advisers in this type of decision.

Knowing how to turn around in time, Safety in the mountains, hiking and trekkingKnowing how to turn around in time, Safety in the mountains, hiking and trekking

There are various factors and signs, some unexpected, others more predictable, which warn us or give us small warnings that the time is coming to end our activity and return home, knowing that our goal will still be there waiting for us a few more days and most likely without moving from the site.

But before we find ourselves in the position of having to make the decision to turn around, before we start our route, we will have already had to work this section to try to minimize the problems and be aware of the difficulties presented by the challenge we are going to face, that is, we must prepare the activity.

Knowing how to turn around in time, Safety in the mountains, hiking and trekking

  • Get documentation and information from guides in the area and on the route.
  • Consult other people who can give you accurate information about what you will encounter.
  • Be clear about the equipment you're going to need.
  • Assess and evaluate sensibly if both you and the people who are going to accompany you have the necessary experience and physical preparation for the activity to be performed.
  • Know the forecast and the weather conditions that are going to happen.
  • Etc…​

This work, done in the comfort of our home, should be inherent in every route we take, as simple as it may seem, and once there, it will undoubtedly help us to make better decisions.

But the work we are obliged to do does not end here. Once on the route, while we enjoy the landscapes we cross, the company and ultimately the activity we have decided to do, we will have to continue to be attentive, and assess, how many signs are giving us indications of the proximity of the unwanted moment to turn around.

Knowing how to turn around in time, Safety in the mountains, hiking and trekking

  • Not keeping to the schedule.
  • Changes in the weather, more clouds, wind...
  • Slight signs of fatigue or ill being, both yours and someone else's in the group.
  • The terrain is not as it should be.
  • Unexpected difficulties, although from experience, equipment and preparation assumable.

These are some warnings to be aware of, as they are certainly warning us of possible futher complications.

Knowing how to turn around in time, Safety in the mountains, hiking and trekking

  • Fatigue or injury.
  • The time has come to conquer the objective and it has not yet been achieved.
  • Bad weather, storms, lightning, etc.
  • Bad or unstable terrain.
  • Unexpected situations or stretches for which we are neither prepared nor have the necessary equipment.

These facts are undoubtedly making it clear to us that we must withdraw in order to avoid greater evils.

It is significant that in a great majority of the complications and rescues that occur have as one of the factors that caused them the fact of not knowing how to turn around in time, even before leaving the car.


Be prudent, apply common sense and check every few times in case any of these signs are warning you.


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