The picture I have posted here was taken by Lake Maggiore on a very warm day at the end of May. Can you see the snow on the mountains? Part of them belong to Switzerland and part to Italy, but on both sides there is snow, and snow could not be there if the area were not seriously cold for most of the time. It seems obvious, but apparently many people don't have enough logic to understand this simple concept.
According to information provided by the Soccorso Alpino (the Italian Alpine rescue team) the majority of cases they have to deal with involve people who had seriously underestimated the need for proper clothing. Many of them admit they were not expecting the Italian side of the Alps to be as cold as the northern one!
Altitude and cold go together, no matter how near you are to palm trees and sunny beaches.
Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano... (Who goes slowly, goes safetly, goes far)
If you are planning to discover our Swiss Alps, don't forget to acclimatize before going on up to the rnountains. Please bear in mind that you need plenty of fluids and time to acclimatize when you are at an altitude of over 9,840 feet / 3'000 meters.
You will avoid headaches or dizzy feelings.
Warm clothing, a windproof jacket and solid footwear are a must, whatever the time of year. And, of course, don’t forget your sunglasses, sun cream and your cap/hat at these high altitudes.
Keep in mind that weather conditions could change quiet quickly at these high altitudes.
NB: Survival photo taken on The Klein Matterhorn (3'800m) in March 2005.
Danger of drowning.
In a few seconds, a quiet river can turn into a deadly torrent.
Water spillages are unpredictable. They can occur:
- even on a clear day and during summer
- round the clock on every day of the year
Water spillages occur downstream of water intakes, dams and hydroelectric stations and production basins:
- in the beds of torrents (even when dry) and in gorges indicated by a signpost
- from 400 to 2,800 m of altitude several kilometres downstream of the hydroelectric facilities
Attention! The hydroelectric facilities are often invisible (underground or too far away). Follow the warning signboards and inquire with the communal and cantonal waterway authorities!
Any person standing in or by the river could be taken by surprise by the rise of the water, sapped by the strength of the current, plastered against the rocks and finally swept away. This danger is even greater in the gorges.
I was confused a few times in the Alps as to whether I was hot or cold. It seemed warm outside because of the sun, and because I was moving a lot - all I wanted to do was take off layers. On the other hand, there's a LOT of snow and ice, and its about -40 degrees celcius on top of the mountains. It doesn't seem this cold though. And although it is, you will get a bad sunburn on your face if you don't wear sunscreen. I sort of didn't take people seriously when they told me the sun could give me a burn when I was there, because I figured "Its winter, why would I need sunscreen?" but I ended up being redder than a Stop sign by the end of the week! Make sure you put lots on, all over your face and neck and any other skin that will be exposed at all to the sun. The tops of the apls are a lot closer to the sun than ground level, so it makes sence why you'd have to wear more sunscreen.
If you're going skiing/surfing off-piste. Please respect the local regulations and read the avalanche bullettins.
In case of emergency call 117