The information on this page was produced as a brochure
by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in May 2000 in conjunction
with the NSW Police and NSW Fire Brigade and is published here by KCros
with permission, in the hope that EVERY person who ventures into
the mountains is aware of the ways to make their trip safe and reduce
the risk of misadventure.
For further information be sure to visit the links at
the bottom of this page.
- Never travel alone.
- Know where you are going.
- If you are going into the backcountry, take a
topographic map and a compass and be dure you know how to use them.
On any backcountry trip, make sure every member of
your group has:
- Warm clothing
- A waterproof jacket with a hood and waterproof
- Plenty of food and drink.
- The party should also have a first aid kit,
bivouac bag or space blanket.
Tell a reliable friend or relative your:
- Destination and intended route.
- Alternative destination in case of bad weather.
- Equipment list.
- When you expect to get back.
Don’t forget to tell your friend when you do return.
- Weather can change very rapidly in the mountains.
- The alpine area of Kosciuszko National park experiences
extreme weather conditions. A winter storm can bring gusts of 150
km per hour and potentially one metre of snow.
- Do not head off into the backcountry with
bad weather (low pressure system) approaching.
Mobile phones: coverage within
Kosciuszko National Park is patchy and cold can severely affect batteries.
GPS (Global Positioning
System) devices use a satellite network to provide you with your location.
To be of real use they must be used with topographic maps and a compass.
Cold can affect batteries.
EPIRB’s (Emergency Position
Indicating Response Beacons) – for an emergency situation only!
They transmit a signal through a satellite network to
the emergency centre in Canberra.
If you are in the bush a lot consider buying one, otherwise
consider hiring one.
Technology will not guarantee your safety: even if
you set off an EPIRB in an emergency, mountain weather means that helicopters
can only fly about 50 percent of the time
- Carry a tent if you are going into the backcountry.
- For winter camping, you need a quality mountain
tent that will handle the strong winds and heavy snow loads.
- Mountain tents can be hired.
You’ll need a snow shovel for construction and ski stock
for ventilation hole. Keep the shovel inside the snow cave.
See note on VENTILATION below.
Can provide complete protection from extreme weather,
remains at a constant temperature just above 0 degrees C.
You’re likely to get very wet during construction. Can
take 2 – 4 hours to construct and uses up lots of energy.
Can provide complete protection from extreme weather.
Can take 2 – 5 hours to build, difficult for the inexperienced.
Huts provide useful emergency shelter. If you are caught
out in bad weather and you are at a hut, stay there until the weather
improves. Don’t rely on finding or staying in a hut. Bad weather or the
fitness/ skills/ health of your party may prevent you from reaching the
Ventilation in shelters is critical, wether in a snow
cave, igloo or tent. It needs to be checked regularly, particularly in
windy snowy weather. There are two dangers:
- Inadequate ventilation can cause a shortage
- Carbon monoxide poisoning caused by incomplete
combustion of stove fuel.
Both can be fatal.
IF LOST OR INJURED
- Stay where you are.
- If you’re on the move you’ll be harder to find
and will use valuable energy.
- Find a spot out of the wind and make a shelter.
Leave something visible for searchers such as an item of colourful
clothing, skis or a snowboard.
- If you’re on the Main Range (above the treeline)
area, do not drop down into the trees except for temporary shelter.
The forest areas are dense and rugged. It is almost impossible for
helicopters to see people on the ground. If you do drop down into
the trees, climb back up into the alpine area where you will be more
visible to searchers, when the weather improves.
In cold and / or wet conditions inadequate clothing,
tiredness and insufficient food can combine to cause a lowering of normal
body temperature (hypothermia) which can result in collapse or death if
- Victim is exhausted, lags behind, stumbles, may have
slurred speech and appear drunk, and is reluctant to keep walking or
- Victim is cold to touch, pulse is slow and shallow.
They may be difficult to reason with.
- Be aware, signs of hypothermia are often mistaken
Treat the victim immediately by providing shelter and
warmth, dry clothes, sleeping bag or shared body warmth. Warm the person
from the inside out to avoid excessive external heat such as placing them
near a fire or rubbing the skin. Give warm sweet tea if the person is
Let their body temperature rise gradually and allow
them to rest
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