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The Norwegian Mountain Code

Foto: Mari Kolbjørnsrud
Foto: Mari Kolbjørnsrud
The Norwegian Mountain Code (called "Fjellvettreglene" in Norwegian) is directed towards your safety.

Be prepared

Be sufficiently experienced and fit for your intended tour. Practice hiking or skiing with a pack away from trails and tracks, even if conditions are poor. It's then that you gain the experience needed for mountain tours. Your physical and mental fitness, your experience and your gear determine the sensible length of a tour.

Leave word of your route

Many cabins, hotels and other lodgings have tour notification boxes in which you may put written notice of your tour route. In an emergency, the details you give will aid the rescue service. However, the best safeguard is to plan your tour so you need not be rescued by others.

Be weatherwise

An old adage advises that you should always be alert to forecasts of bad weather yet not rely completely on forecasts of good weather. Regardless of the forecast, you should be prepared for bad weather. Even a fresh breeze (Beaufort Scale 5) combined with sleet or frost can produce frostbite. Weather forecasts aren't sufficiently detailed to forecast local weather in mountain areas. Despite forecasts usually being right, it's difficult to predict when weather will change. So you should heed forecasts in adjoining lowlands as well as in the mountains, and follow weather changes.

Be equipped for bad weather and frost.

Always take a rucksack and proper mountain gear. Put on more clothing if you see approaching bad weather or if the temperature drops. A roomy anorak, long wind trousers, wind mittens and warm headgear are good outer clothing. Put them on in good time. Stand with your back to the wind and help others put on their clothing. Use a survival bag for additional protection.

Learn from the locals

Local people often can tell you about avalanche train, wind and snow conditions and good choices of route.

Use map and compass

Always have and know how to use map and compass. Before departing, study the map and trace your route to gain a basis for a successful tour. Follow the map, even when weather and visibility are good, so you always know where you are. When visibility deteriorates, it can be difficult to determine your position. Read the map as you go and take note of points you can recognize. Rely on the compass. Use a transparent, watertight map case attached to your body so it cannot blow away. Take bearings between terrain points on the map that can guide you to your goal. Use the compass to stay on a bearing from a known point.

Don't go solo

If you trek alone, there's nobody to give first aid or notify a rescue service in an emergency. Yet there isn't always safety in numbers. A large party is inadvisable, particularly if its members are unequally experienced. A party never is stronger than its weakest member.

Turn back in time; sensible retreat is no disgrace

If conditions deteriorate so you doubt that you can attain your goal, turn about and return. Don't try to defy weather, as others may risk their lives to rescue you. If you change your goal, be sure to notify the cabin that expects you. If you start a tour in windy, uncertain weather, go against the wind. Then it will be easier to backtrack if need be.

Conserve energy and build a snow shelter if necessary

The stronger the wind, the tougher the trekking. Suit speed to the weakest member of the party and avoid sweating. If you go in single file, turn often to ensure that the others follow, more so in bad weather when it's hard to hear voices. Remember to eat and drink frequently. Physical activity increases the body's need for liquid intake, even if you don't feel thirsty. Insufficient food and drink lead to lethargy, and you can become discouraged. Start building a snow shelter before you are exhausted; a few hours is enough to build a snow trench or snow cave. When you have surplus time and energy, practice building a shelter; the experience gained can be valuable. A survival bag can provide emergency shelter.