Inclement Weather Hiking: Ten Tips to Stay Comfortable and Alive

Tasmania’s Arthur Range is arguably Australia’s most spectacular mountain chain. Unfortunately for hikers there’s a catch. It’s called the “weather.”

Backcountry trips in the Arthurs are a meteorological roll of the dice at any time of year. When it’s fine you’ll be treated to sublime views of jagged quartzite peaks, hanging valleys and glacier carved lakes. If a big storm front rumbles through, all you will likely see is horizontal rain, thick fog and the brim of your baseball cap pulled all the way down over your forehead.

When coupled with the fact that much of the hiking is done on open rocky ridges exposed to the full brunt of the Roaring Forties (i.e. gale-force westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere, generally between 40° and 50° latitude), the Arthurs is not a place you want to be without good backcountry skills and the right equipment.

If faced with these sort of extreme conditions, a hiker’s #1 priority should always be safety. Preset itineraries and/or mileage objectives should run a very distant second. In such circumstances, it is important to focus on core temperature management and sound choices.

Areas such as the Arthur Range, represent some of the most challenging conditions a hiker will face. When trekking for extended periods in driving rain and temperatures that hover around freezing, hypothermia and frostbite are a very real possibility. Thankfully, cold-related maladies are far easier to prevent than they are to cure.

Here are ten proactive measures that hikers can take when venturing into such environments…

 

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