Packing tips for your next trip to the mountains

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Higher altitude / hard-to-access Mountains

The right footwear is paramount. Walking shoes are almost certainly not going to cut it; in this rugged terrain you’ll need extra ankle support. But do you really need those pricey three-season hike boots? It depends how far you’re going and in what weather. Whatever you choose, never head off into the wilds without your boots being worn in. You don’t want to be battling with blisters, miles from civilisation.

Packing essentials

  • Proper socks: There’s no point spending money on good shoes and then not choosing the right socks. Consider how you’ll be exploring the wilderness – on foot, by bike, on horseback – and sock up accordingly. No matter where you are in the world, keeping feet insulated and dry can make a huge difference to your trip.
  • Protective creams: There is nowhere, apart from sailing on the equator, that so demands high-factor sun cream and lip balm, even on cool days. And don’t forget extra-strength moisturisers: high equals dry, dehydrated skin.
  • Medication: Altitude sickness, which can occur from elevations of 2,500m, can be eased with local remedies such as coca tea (in the Andes), but it’s always good to pack prescription Acetazolamide (Diamox) pills, because it’s impossible to really know if, when or how hard acute mountain sickness might strike.

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The Himalayas

 

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The Himalayas are the crowning glory for mountain lovers. Everest may headline the gig, but the region’s prayer-flag-strewn passes show that these mountains are most notable for their mosaic of cultures. Dress respectfully. The Himalayas have sacred summits and peaks that are home to places of pilgrimage. Don’t miss the chance to tour temples by lacking sufficient clothing (a locally bought sarong will do).

Lower altitude / Easy-to-access Mountains

Both wild and, in parts, well-manicured, the lower-altitude or easier access mountains offer trips to suit ascetics and aesthetes alike. These are the kinds of peaks where, since Victorian times, the great and good have come for restorative breaks in spa hotels and lakeside lodges. The ‘getting there’ has always been part of the fun: arriving, as in Switzerland, on some of the world’s first tourist-focused trains.
So packing needs to be stylish and strategic. Are your walking boots presentable enough to pass muster in a grand hotel lobby, should you want to pop in for that can’t-miss cocktail? And will your designer backpack really survive that high mountain pass?

Packing essentials

• A gourmet appetite: Forget frugal and filling mountain food. From the South Tyrol of Italy and Austria, to France, Switzerland and North America’s east and west coast ranges, the mountains have become synonymous with good eating, the wild outpost for many a celebrity chef. Pack a credit card and dine in hotels and lodges with stupendous settings.

• Public transport timetables: From narrow-gauge railways to cable cars and lake ferries, transport in the mountains is a joy. It’s utterly geared to getting travellers to the summit efficiently.

• Swimwear: With mountains, come lakes. Or spa pools and hot tubs with a valley view.

Switzerland

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The Alps put on their prettiest shows in the 18th-century painters’ peaks – Jungfrau, Matterhorn, Eiger. These summits, where mountain tourism was born, are for those with deep pockets and daring spirits. Today, the Swiss mountains won’t shun the jeans-and-sneakers brigade but pack a blazer/suit jacket to instantly dress up for smoother access into smart hotels. These peaks are capricious; come the fog or a storm, they might become momentarily inaccessible – so pack a book.

This excerpt has been taken from Lonely Planet’s ‘How to Pack for Any Trip’.