HGSS Gives Important Advice to Hikers Ahead of the Season

HGSS Gives Important Advice to Hikers Ahead of the Season
Photo: Mario Romulić

June 4, 2022 - Summer is the most popular time of year for hiking in Croatia's national parks. However, many are unaware of the unpredictable conditions that could put one or more lives at risk, which is why Mario Saban from HGSS has decided to dish out some important advice for those interested in hiking in national parks.

The Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS) appeals to all mountaineers and people who come to Velebit and the mountain in general not to underestimate it because the mountain rarely forgives mistakes, says the director of the Velebit Nature Park Public Institution, HGSS member Mario Saban.

"Mountains rarely forgive mistakes - when you go to the mountain without enough water, without prior information about which way you will go, how long it will take. It can all be fatal," Saban said during a presentation to journalists about the tourist potential of Plitvice Lakes, Udbina, and Gospić under the slogan "Lika is a character (medicine)" and the hiking event "Three days of three peaks" - to Mrsinj, Ozeblin, and Oštra.

He recalled that last year German scouts aged 12 to 15 came to Velebit without following the forecast.

"It was nice and sunny weather, in the middle of summer, they started short-sleeved. But, as Velebit is quite unpredictable, the weather deteriorated in a couple of hours, the scouts got lost, they didn't know where they were going, and launched an HGSS search operation. If we didn't find them until later that evening, they would surely freeze by morning."

"When you go to the mountain, you need to prepare for it, you need to know where you are going, and how long you will stay on the mountain. You should always contact someone and inform them where you are going. It is also important that you never go to the mountain alone," said Saban.

Adequate clothing and footwear are also important, he added. "It's a well-known story that tourists know how to go in flip-flops because they think we're just going for a little walk."

"They start in inadequate clothes, the rain gets them wet quickly, it gets cold on the mountain, it's humid and they catch a cold easily," says Shaban.

"The basis of mountaineering," he pointed out, "is to dress in layers and put on sturdy hiking shoes."

Bring caloric foods and energy bars

You must always have a first aid kit and a mobile phone in your backpack, he said. "Never drink alcohol because people think it will warm them up a bit, but the opposite happens, alcohol does not heat up, but you quickly get a feeling of warmth, circulation goes, you get even colder and that is the cause of the cold.", he warned.

"The standard is to bring something caloric to the mountain, such as bacon, food that gives the body carbohydrates so that you can withstand walking. Energy and vitamin bars are also recommended.

It is always better to drink isotonic drinks than to drink clean water because by taking a large amount of water from the body you excrete a certain amount of electrolytes and salts, and without them, the body loses strength. That's why you should always bring high-calorie food and sweetened drinks to the mountains.", he recommended.

Shaban recalled anecdotes about the rescue operation of a Korean tourist in the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

The tourist photographed over the edge and fell down. He hung on the branches, clinging to them like a cat. When I came down for him, I had to break a lot of branches in the rescue operation, and he asked me at one point - so break the branches, is this a national park?"

''We also saved a paraglider on Visocica. He stayed on the beeches that are more than 35 meters long and hung helplessly. When I came up for him, his wing was left in the canopy. I secured the paraglider, and with a knife cut the threads that hold the wing, and he got angry with me and asked me why I didn't go up more so that I could lower his wing as well'', Saban recalls.

Saban also says that people call them to pull them out of the snow when they drive across Velebit, but this has become frequent, so now they do not respond to such calls if no one is endangered. "Let them call the towing service," he said.

HGSS's Gospić station has an average of about 35 rescue operations a year.

Source: Večernji List

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