Desert-proven tips and tricks for hiking in the heat

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    Desert-proven tips and tricks for hiking in the heat

    On my walks in the desert mountains Jbel Sarhro in Morocco I was able to gain valuable experience for trekking in high heat.

    Good planning

    Already at the tour much can be done for well-being and health in the heat:

    • Through a early start you miss most of the stage of the midday heat and it is still pleasantly cool. The hottest is not at lunchtime, but in the afternoon from about 14 o'clock, when the sun has enough time to heat up the environment.
    • At the afternoon then the route should best pass through a shady forest or along the shady north or west side of the mountain or in a deep valley. Here already some time for extensive breaks plan to and run into the twilight. Caution in the afternoon in the mountains: increased by the high temperatures Falling rocks; at glacier tours Snow bridges break away and columns are no longer stably covered.
    • breaks are even more important than others in the heat of the day. During breaks, you give the body and the circulation time to stabilize and normalize. If there is no cool, shady place to rest, you should somehow "build shade".

    Weather and weather observation

    On afternoons in the mountains (but not only there!) It often happens Summer or heat thunderstorms, Such a change in the weather in the mountains is often local and comes very suddenly. That's another reason for a good start. When planning should therefore always emergency departures are scheduled. Also the knowledge about the correct behavior during thunderstorms in the mountains is essential.

    When the heat rises too ozone levels, Ozone affects performance and can cause respiratory irritation in sensitive individuals.

    Clothing and UV sunscreen

    At the clothes The ghosts argue: loose-air cotton and linen or specialized functional clothing made from synthetic fibers.

    Cool clothes?

    Both have advantages: the Berbers and nomads in Morocco wear airy clothes made of natural fibers. The fibers absorb sweat, trap it and release moisture slowly. This gives a long-lasting "air conditioning" by evaporative cooling. Airy layers now and then give a refreshing breeze under the clothes.

    Functional materials absorb hardly any moisture, but pass them from the body directly to the surface of the material, where it then comes to evaporative cooling. Many manufacturers promote their products with "cooling effect" - but honestly, I personally in all functional clothes quickly too hot and the oh so great Superduperfaser sticks, mixed with sweat, salt and dust on the skin.

    Important in the choice of clothing is therefore the personal feeling. Try it, which works better for you!

    UV radiation

    UV radiation (ultraviolet radiation) with a wavelength range of 100 to 400 nanometers is the most energetic part of the optical radiation. Nevertheless, it is invisible to humans, and we have no other sense organs for their perception. UV radiation is the cause of immediate and long-term Damage to the skin and eyes.

    A distinction is made between UV-A, UV-B and UV-C radiation, whereby the particularly high-energy C radiation is completely filtered out by the upper atmosphere. B radiation is also filtered, depending on the ozone layer, but reaches at least 10% of the earth's surface. UV-A radiation reaches the earth largely unfiltered. Because UV radiation is an important environmental parameter, it is constantly monitored and reported around the world UV index released.

    The Strength of the radiation depends on the latitude, the season and the time of day. The closer to the equator, the higher the radiation. In summer it is higher than in winter, and at midday more intense than in the morning or evening hours. The height above sea level and the clouds also influence the strength. The UV radiation increases about 10% per 1000 meters of altitude. A closed cloud cover filters out up to 90% of the radiation - but light cloud cover can even increase the radiation if the sun is still visible.

    UV radiation can cause a variety of damage to the skin and eyes, but at worst skin cancer. The incidence of cancer continues to increase worldwide. In Germany, new cases of skin cancer (incidence) double approximately every 10 to 15 years, around 4,000 people die each year. Reason for this is the property of UV radiation, DNA damage to cause in skin cells.

    The health effects and consequences of UV radiation can be effectively prevented with meaningful protective measures. One of these measures

    • wearing UV protective clothing, one
    • good sunglasses as well as the
    • Protection of uncovered body parts with a good sunscreen

    UV protective clothing

    The best sunscreen, however, is clothing. Any kind of clothing protects against intense UV radiation. Above all, the type of fabric and the density of the fabric determine the level of UV protection. The denser, the better.

    How big the actual protective effect of special UV protective clothing is through the UV protection factor UPF specified. This UPF is similar to the sun protection factor of sunscreen and indicates how much longer the wearer can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. When shopping, make sure that at least one of the three established standards is stated on the label:

    • the Australian-New Zealand Standard (AS / NZS 4399: 1996)
    • the European standard (EN 13758-1) and the
    • UV standard 801

    The following applies: the UV standard 801 is the most relevant to practice as the textiles are not only tested when new, but also when wet and stretched. So here is trying to adjust the unfavorable, real wearing conditions. The basis of the measurement is the radiation intensity with the solar spectrum that occurs in Melbourne, Australia in mid-summer and the most sensitive skin type. The lowest protection factor found during the test is then declared.

    A good and well-fitting sunglasses with built-in UV protection prevents short-term and long-term damage to the eyes.

    A head guard, preferably with a wide brim and proven UV protection, not only provides shade but also helps prevent sun-stroke. This arises when the long-wave infrared radiation irritates the meninges and thereby swell them.

    Skin protection sunscreen

    UV damage occurs on the skin well before sunburn. Despite sunscreen, some of the radiation penetrates the skin and damages it. Sunscreen means so no absolute protectionbut merely causes a shift in the likelihood of developing skin cancer.

    Radiation damage in general is a matter of probability and therefore not easy for humans to understand by "common sense" alone. Even a "damage event", ie a single, short irradiation with UV radiation can damage the DNA in such a way that skin cancer develops. The more frequently the radiation occurs, the higher the likelihood of developing skin cancer. Sunscreen helps to reduce the likelihood again.

    Sunscreen works either by physical or chemical filter substances. Since individual substances contained do not offer over the entire UV spectrum, usually different substances are combined. By chemical filtration High-energy radiation is absorbed and released as longer-wave, lower-energy radiation. Chemical filters penetrate into the uppermost skin layer, the epidermis, and therefore do not work until after about 30 minutes. Physical filters reflect and diffuse the radiation through microscopic particles, for example white zinc oxide.

    The sun protection factor describes the protection against UV-B radiation and indicates how much longer you can expose yourself to the sun before sunburn occurs. So theoretically, SPF 20 means that you can stay in the sun 20 times longer. For example, if skin self-protection is 10 minutes, and SPF 20 is applied, you can theoretically be in the sun for 200 minutes, or about three hours, before getting sunburned. These are theoretical calculations under optimal conditions. In practice, this period is significantly shortened by, for example, sweating and mechanical friction. As described above, despite sunscreen, some of the radiation penetrates the skin, do not protect sunscreen from long-term DNA damage and skin cancer!

    It is recommended to use the LSF at most 60%. In addition, every free skin area must be covered evenly with an adequate amount (30 to 40 ml for the whole body) and be regrown regularly, at least every two hours. Important: After creaming does not extend the protection by the appropriate timebut receives the protection only.

    At the Cream with Sunscreens are really all uncovered areas of skin include: face, ears, underside of the nose, neck, hands, calves, knees, etc. Who is traveling with hiking poles, should consider the purchase of special UV protection gloves think. Because the friction of the loops reduces the protection of the sunscreen very quickly and sunburn threatens.

    Health risks of great heat

    Exercise during high heat is a heavy burden on the body. The body tries to keep within optimal temperature range by sweating. The cycle is working at full speed.

    The first warning signs that something is wrong with your health are headache, (dark) yellow urine, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. These warning signs should be taken absolutely seriously!

    The most common heat problems can be:

    • sunstroke: Caused by the irritation of the meninges due to long-wave infrared radiation, headache, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, drowsiness and inner restlessness are noticeable. Can be a brain edema in severe cases! Even a simple, bright cap prevents the infrared rays from penetrating deeper, thus preventing a sun-stroke.
    • heat exhaustion: a relatively sudden drop in blood pressure leading to unconsciousness. In order to increase the heat dissipation, the blood vessels of the skin dilate, thus the heart pumps virtually "empty" and the brain gets too little blood.
    • heatstroke: absolutely life threatening, first signs are headache, nausea, staggering gait, cramps, consciousness cloudiness, unconsciousness, shock, the patient no longer sweats due to lack of water. The body temperature rises above 40 ° C, the acute overheating leads to brain edema.

    When the first symptoms appear, preferably at the first warning signs, a pause must be taken immediately. The patient should drink a lot in small sips, cool down, possibly helps by moist clothing on the forehead and upper body. The condition is worse, must immediate help be brought!

    Swell: WP: heat damage, BfS: UV radiation


      • Thank you, Vitani!
        Many underestimate that sultry heat is even more exhausting. In direct comparison to Morocco, 30 ° feel much more unpleasant here.

    1. Good contribution. We have been to South Africa many times over the last few years and you have to come up with some ideas so that you do not react to the heat. Generally just enough drinks and a good headgear can make a big difference.


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