You don’t mess with the mountains and, for that reason, on most of our walking vacations that take you into Europe’s elevated areas, such as the Pyrenees, Dolomites and of course, the Alps, you will be walking with a mountain guide. However, whether you are on a self-guided walking vacation or a guided, group vacation, it is crucial to have some awareness of mountain safety.
If possible, always go walking in mountainous regions with an International Mountain Leader or IML or other qualified mountain guide. These are highly qualified people, who know the terrain very well, the weather patterns, avalanche risks and so on. They are also fully trained in emergency procedures and will warn the walking group about dangers and how to prevent accidents. Some walkers turn a blind eye to mountain safety, particularly in summer, and think they can take on the peaks without a guide. But unless you are experienced, this is often misguided, as conditions can still be extreme in summer, with avalanches happening as late as May in some places.
It is important to realise that the majority of accidents happen in the mountains because of exhaustion, exacerbated by overexposure to heat, cold or being dehydrated. So take all the precautions that you need. For more extreme hiking, such as summiting Mont Blanc, see our Mont Blanc travel
guide for more details.