Mountain rescue service warns of dangers: "Winter in the mountains is not summer in white"
Created: 12/17/2022, 8:40 am
By: Katarina Amtmann
Mountain accidents in the Alps: mountain rescue service, police and alpine club warn (symbol image).
© Matthias Balk/dpa +++ dpa picture radio +++
Although more accidents happen when hiking in summer, the mountain rescue service and the Alpine Club warn that there are particular dangers in winter.
Munich – In summer, most mountain accidents happen while hiking.
However, the police, mountain rescue service and Alpine Club warn of particular dangers in the snowy mountains.
Snow and ice in the mountains: hikers fall to their deaths
Last spring, the danger of mountains that were still wintry showed itself drastically: in the few days around Easter alone, three hikers slipped on old snow in the Bavarian Alps and fell to their deaths - part of a veritable series of tragic mountain accidents.
Most accidents happen when hiking in summer, two thirds of all operations by the Bavarian Mountain Rescue Service involve hikers.
However, mountain rescue services, the police and the German Alpine Association (DAV) warn of particular dangers in the winter season.
Because more and more people lace up their hiking boots even in the cold season.
Mountain sports are in vogue – and more often than not there is no snow for skiing.
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Mountain Rescue warns: "Winter in the mountains is not summer in white"
"Winter in the mountains is not summer in white," warns Bergwacht spokesman Roland Ampenberger.
Path markings are quickly no longer visible in the snow.
Besides, it gets dark quickly.
Add to that the cold, the risk of slipping on icy paths and the danger of avalanches.
Four people died in avalanches in Bavaria last winter – two of them were hikers.
“In the mountains you quickly reach your limits when hiking in winter.
Anyone who is out and about without snowshoes or touring skis and the appropriate emergency equipment and experience should stay close to the valley and on cleared paths,” warns DAV President Roland Stierle.
Danger in the Alps: When it comes to accidents, ignorance and carelessness often play a role
Maximilian Maier from the Oberbayern Süd police headquarters agrees that hikes that are easy in summer can become demanding tours in winter that require high-alpine equipment.
Ice axes, crampons or lugs – as a slimmed-down version – may well be necessary in order not to slip in the snowy and icy terrain.
For many a simple summer tour, avalanche equipment is also advisable in winter: avalanche transceiver, avalanche shovel and probe.
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Hikers in particular are often not prepared for such demands of the winter mountain world, either in terms of knowledge or equipment.
In addition to ignorance, carelessness is often involved in accidents.
Some are walking with light shoes, others simply follow an app or start despite unfavorable weather conditions.
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In February, two hikers went to a hut near Oberstdorf in snow and wind and got lost.
One froze to death, the other died in hospital.
Around Easter, a couple from Saxony-Anhalt, walking in sneakers and with insufficient equipment, slipped to their deaths on a snowy section of the Zugspitz region.
In September, a young mountaineer from Lower Saxony got caught in a sudden storm on the Hochkalter near Berchtesgaden.
Below the 2607 meter high summit he slipped.
He made dramatic emergency calls, then broke off contact.
Rescue workers searched tirelessly - but without success.
The 26-year-old's body was discovered four weeks later.
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Mountain rescue counts fewer missions - but often after dark
From May to the end of October, the Bavarian mountain rescue service counted fewer missions than in the previous year.
According to Ampenberger, the number of people killed in the mountains during this period has also fallen – from 85 in the previous year to 57 now. One reason for the decline could have been the rainy autumn.
It is possible that some have traveled to other regions again, while in 2021 many were vacationing in their own country due to the pandemic.
This had led to a strong rush to the mountains - and also attracted many inexperienced people.
Police spokesman Maier advised getting information from local mountain guides or tourism associations as to whether the goal could be reached as planned.
According to Ampenberger, quite a few operations now take place after 6 p.m.
In the summer of 2021, the rescuers had to move out more than 300 times in the dark.
It is precisely then that the availability of helicopters is severely restricted, making it more difficult to reach the scene of the accident.
The increasing number of evening excursions into the mountains are also a thorn in the side of nature conservationists, as the game is disturbed.
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