The Mountain Code
New to the mountain? While it is beautiful and Instagram-worthy, nature can also be dangerous. The Mountain Code is here to ensure that you are both respecting the environment around you and your safety at the same time. So you can have fun and keep climbing!
This guide is inspired by the Norwegian Mountain Code. Staying safe in the outdoors is a priority!
1. Plan your trip appropriately
Plan trips and hikes around the groups’ abilities, including physical and mental endurance. Keep up-to-date information about the surrounding area to account for any potential inclement weather. Arrange meeting points and communicate ahead of time in case there is no cellular service.
Travelling in a group is recommended for safety and sharing experiences in the outdoors. Communicate with your group as things shift to ensure everyone is aware of changes in the plan. For longer and more strenuous trips, do not go with those who do not have sufficient experience.
In regions like Karamoja, it is essential to communicate with surrounding local communities beforehand to avoid misunderstandings. In general, trails often cross communities and homesteads, so be kind!
2. Be flexible – Adapt to changes in the plan
Assess conditions constantly and adjust plans as necessary. Respect your environment and the weather. Be equipped to handle sudden changes in weather or environment, including carrying extra water and food in case of inclement incidents. Always check the weather forecast and local news before hiking!
3. Be aware of your surroundings
Take care to avoid – or be careful around – terrain that may change at any moment, such as loose rock, ice or bog/swamp. Terrain traps can occur in gorges that are prone to flash floods, swamps, and other environments. Take note of potential areas of exposure, such as ridgelines or peaks.
Be considerate of other hikers and potential wildlife you may encounter on the trail.
4. Like Scar in the Lion King: Be prepared!
Pack smart! Whether a one-day or multi-day excursion, make sure you are adequately prepared by dressing for the climate, packing additional supplies and emergency gear, such as a first-aid kit or a spare tarpaulin for shelter.
Carrying your cell phone can be useful, but remember cellular service does not reach all trails and wildernesses. For extended, remote treks, consider carrying a satellite phone or walkie talkies. Always carry a first-aid kit so you can help yourself and others in the case of a medical emergency or injury. A headlight is equally essential in case you find yourself on the trail after dark or need to navigate around a campsite.
5. Location! Location! Location!
Always know where you are. Whether you are hiking with a guide or self-guided, ensure that you are prepared with local knowledge, a GPX map (all our trail guides include GPX-maps) and accessibility to other maps. You never know when you might make a wrong turn, potentially putting you and your group into a hazardous situation. Bring extra batteries or a paper map as a backup.
6. Leave no trace
Going into the wilderness, it is important to carry out all rubbish or waste you may carry in or create. This includes biodegradable waste in certain national parks, where even banana peels can be harmful to the ecosystem. Carry rubbish bags in your day pack and pick up rubbish, even if it is not yours. Follow the Leave No Trace principles.
For human waste, avoid urinating or defecating upstream from water sources, and take care to be at least 50 metres away. Dig a cathole approximately six inches deep in soil, when possible. Never urinate on the trail.
7. There's no shame in turning back
If conditions become difficult, do not be ashamed of the possibility of turning around to conserve energy and prevent hazardous situations from occurring. Altitude sickness, exposure and inclement weather are all reasons to turn around, as well as unexpected exhaustion or members of a group being unable to continue. Think about the entire group when making these decisions and adjust accordingly.
The mountains and outdoors are not going anywhere. Know that you can return when you are energized and better prepared!
8. Plan for the worst case scenario
In case of an emergency, are you able to shelter in place? Are you able to return to base camp or the trailhead? What steps can you take to communicate with those off the trail to ensure your safety? Don’t wait until you are exhausted before seeking shelter – oftentimes doing so requires additional energy. Throughout your journey, make sure to hydrate (recommended amount is half liter of water per hour of moderate activity in moderate temperatures). You may need to drink more depending upon the temperature and the intensity of the hike. For variety, consider alternating between plain water and a sports drink with electrolytes. It is also recommended to regularly snack on food with protein, sugar and carbohydrates for continued energy.
9. Have fun!
Now that we’ve sufficiently scared you, it’s time to remind you that hiking is really really really fun! As the saying goes: It’s not about the destination, but the journey. Take it slow, look around, snap photos and enjoy the outdoors!