UKH

Drink Lots, Hillwalkers Advised

With all this nice weather warm weather the Mountaineering Council of Scotland has offered some timely seasonal adivce on dehydration in the hills. It basically boils down to drinking a lot. Common sense, you might think, but it's surprising how often hillwalkers take on less fluid than they need.

Getting wet inside and out in a highland heat wave, 79 kb
Getting wet inside and out in a highland heat wave
© Dan Bailey

'It’s important to drink plenty of fluids when hill walking – especially during the warmer weather in summer' said MCofS Mountain Safety Adviser Heather Morning.

'As we climb a hill we are sweating and losing fluid – far more than normal. And when you lose more fluid than you take in, it upsets the balance of salt concentration in your body, which then affects many of the body’s functions.'

'Common symptoms of dehydration on the hill are thirst, yellow urine, fatigue, dizziness, lack of concentration and headaches.'

The answer is simple: drink water. Beer won't do, apparently.

Heather recommends drinking before, during and after a day on the hill, aiming for two litres during a 6-8-hour day.

'Water is heavy – a litre weighs a kilogramme – but it’s not necessary to carry it all with you. Water in the Scottish mountains is arguably some of the cleanest in the world, but be sensible. Ensure your water source is upstream from the highest habitation and that the water is flowing. Using a hydration pack may be useful to encourage drinking little and often rather than having to stop and take a bottle or flask out of your rucksack.'

Surprisingly, thirst is not a reliable sign of dehydration, she said, with urine colour being the best indicator. 

'I am often guilty of being dehydrated on the hill' she confessed, 'and my body is very good at telling me the next day – with stiff, sore leg muscles.'

 

For more advice on hot weather coping strategies see this skills article Ten Top Tips to Beat the Heat



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