When it gets hot in the mountains: Tips for hiking in high summer

This summer has already brought us a few hot days. Although it is usually cooler on the mountains than in the valley, it can also get really hot here in Zauchensee - especially now in August. We’ll tell you how to keep a cool head while hiking in bright sunshine and temperatures above 25 degrees!

8 tips for hiking in high summer

1. Tour planning.

Ideally, when choosing your hiking route, make sure that it includes enough shady sections. In a forest or in a gorge it is much cooler and you are better protected from the sun than on exposed mountain ridges or via ferrata. If possible, choose a route that takes you past lakes or streams where you can refresh yourself briefly.Plan your hike so that you don't have to walk along rocky south-facing slopes in the early afternoon during the hottest part of the day or tackle the steepest and most strenuous sections. At best, you'll be descending by the time it gets really hot. You can also take care not to choose tours that are too demanding on particularly hot days.Tip: If possible, make use of transport up the mountain such as the Gamskogel lift to avoid unnecessary exertion. The ride on the "Cabrio-lift" is a special experience in summer: floating up the mountain over green alpine meadows whilst watching cows and other animal mountain inhabitants has a charm of its own. The Gamskogel lift runs daily until 18th September (except on rainy days) from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm - every Saturday in August even from 7:30 am.

2. Start early.

In summer, it gets light enough from 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. to start a hike and take advantage of the more pleasant temperatures in the morning. This is not only better for your circulation, you also get more out of your hiking day: when it is really hot in the afternoon, you are already on your way back or already back in the valley and can jump into the cool Zauchensee to refresh yourself.Tip: On 21st August, the Gamskogel lift will take you up to 1,900 m above sea level at 5:15 am, where you can experience the breathtaking natural spectacle of a sunrise on the mountains with a campfire and atmospheric music.Afterwards, a hearty breakfast awaits you at the Gamskogelhütte with hot coffee, crusty bread and pastries, delicacies from the region, a steaming egg dish, muesli, fruit and much more. All information about the sunrise trips can be found here.

3. Sun cream

At altitude, the sunlight is more intense and there is less shade from trees, buildings and the like. Even before you set off, you should apply sunscreen with a high sun protection factor at home. Be sure to apply sunscreen especially to those parts of the body that are constantly exposed to the sun: the face, lips, nose, ears, arms, shoulders and neck.Take your suntan lotion and lip care with a sun protection factor in your hiking backpack so that you can reapply it in between. The sunscreen you put on in the morning will be lost over time as you sweat.

4. Head protection

Sunglasses and a cap or visor are a must for any summer hike. If you spend too long in the sun without protection, you risk sunstroke, which is not without danger.This causes a build-up of heat in the head, which irritates the meninges. Sunstroke only becomes noticeable a few hours after being in the sun with symptoms such as headache, nausea and vomiting. Fever, dizziness and even loss of consciousness are also possible. You can help sufferers by calming them down, moving them to a cool, darkened environment and giving them something to drink. If their condition doesn’t improve over time, please consult a doctor or dial the emergency number (144 Rescue, 112 European emergency no.).

5. Drink lots.

Ideally, you should drink at least half a litre of water or tea before you start your hike. Depending on the duration of your mountain tour, you should take at least two to three litres of fluid with you - better too much than too little. It is well known that sweating causes the body to lose water, which we need to replace immediately in order to maintain metabolic and circulatory processes. Sweating is also important to cool down our bodies.If this is not successful, heat stroke can occur: Signs include warm, dry skin, fever, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and loss of consciousness. In the case of heatstroke, you can provide first aid by getting the person out of the sun immediately, cooling them down (open their clothes, put damp cloths on them, fan them, take them to a cool place, ...), giving them something to drink and elevating their legs. If their condition does not improve quickly, please make an emergency call (144 rescue, 140 mountain rescue, 112 Euronotruf).

6. the right clothing.

Make sure you wear light, airy clothing in high temperatures, which ideally also covers your shoulders and arms, is breathable and quickly draws perspiration to the outside. This will also protect you from sunburn and avoid getting sore spots on your skin due to friction from your equipment (e.g. rucksack, climbing harness, etc.). Many manufacturers already offer hiking clothing with a sun protection function, which is ideal for shielding you from the UV light, which is particularly intense at higher altitudes. Also pack a small towel to dry off and one or two light T-shirts to change into in your hiking backpack.

7. Observe the weather.

Especially in summer and when it is very hot, small-scale thunderstorms can occur on the mountains at any time. Therefore, always keep an eye on the weather during your hike so that you are not surprised by a storm. Find out here how to interpret mountain weather and what to do in the event of a sudden thunderstorm on the mountain.

8. The right hiking snack

During a hike, you should regularly have a snack to keep your muscles fuelled. Light, quickly digestible snacks are ideal so that your stomach and circulation are not overloaded. It's better to stop for a snack more often, but for a shorter time, than to take a long break, as this tends to cause your body to shut down.For short hikes, fruit, muesli bars, dried fruit, trail mix or a nut mix to your taste are sufficient. For hikes lasting more than three hours, it is advisable to have more food, especially food rich in carbohydrates - for example, a wholemeal bread with cream cheese or a seed roll with cheese or lean ham to supplement the snacks mentioned above. Vegetable sticks (carrots, cucumbers, kohlrabi, radishes, peppers, etc.) with a tasty dip such as homemade herb curd or hummus provide additional variety.

After a hike, there is almost nothing more refreshing for me than a big glass of apple juice or a really cold (non-alcoholic) beer! Both drinks contain natural electrolytes that are good for the body and help with regeneration. I like to stop off at the Gamskogelhütte for this and enjoy the cool drinks and a hearty snack platter on the sun terrace. :-)

You can find more information about the Zauchensee summer mountain railroads here.

photo credits: Zauchensee Bergbahnen