How to plan an excursion

Best organize a mountain excursion

Are you a hiker, a mountaineer, or a simple enthusiast who wants to go for a nice ride in the mountains at the weekend?
What information do you need to collect to organize an excursion while minimizing unforeseen events?

In the next few lines I will help you draw up a series of points to follow for each of your adventures, to be ready for what you are about to undertake and enjoy the mountains 100%!

Usually, when I organize an outing I follow this lineup:

  1. Definition of the goal
  2. Search for information about the goal
  3. Route identification
  4. Search for route information
  5. Weather forecast
  6. Preparation of the backpack
  7. Security
  8. Useful apps

Let's go deeper into each section.



1

Definition of the goal

This is the most personal and easy point: it is essential, however, to identify the destination of the excursion.
It can be a refuge, a peak, a circular route without particular support points or a simple walk to get to a nice panoramic point.
The choice that will be made will certainly be based on the season in which you want to embark on the adventure, the difficulty compared to your preparation and that of your travel companions. There are people who choose their destination based on the famous and noble name of the peak or the refuge: remember that the most beautiful surprises are reserved for the most hidden, less traveled and known paths!




2

Search for information about the goal

Now that you have defined the goal, you need to get as much information as possible about the excursion area.
On the net there are a myriad of sites, blogs and guides that can help you in gathering as much information as possible on the chosen destination. It may be that some of these may have exactly a detailed relationship of the path to the goal you have in mind.
MyBestTimeHiking itself can help you in providing you with the information you are looking for:

  • Use the search in the section "Excursions" to search for the destination and find out in which relationships it is present on the site. Go to hikes.
  • Use the map to find the excursions closest to you or to the destination you have in mind. Go to map.

Other sites / blogs that I also use at every release, and that I recommend for detailed information, are:

  • vienormali.it: reference portal for mountain, hiking and mountaineering enthusiasts, where you can find detailed information on the normal climbing routes to the Italian and foreign peaks of the Alps, the Apennines and the islands.
  • vieferrate.it: reference portal for via ferratas. Advice on equipment, climbing technique, relationships, and discussion boards.
  • dolomiti.it: it is currently the most complete tourist information site presenting this alpine location, it offers users the convenience of finding hotel rooms or houses available thanks to a simple search system; all correlated and contextualized in a wide choice of itineraries, skiarea, sport, nature, culture, gastronomy, events, news and social networks.
  • sentres.com: reference site for excursions with different types of difficulty between Trentino Alto Adige and the Venetian Dolomites.
  • Ramecrodes: personal blog that collects a huge collection of excursions and reports from the Cortina d'Ampezzo area, some with highly sought-after itineraries.
  • Sites of the various CAI sections: in the various sections it is sometimes possible to find detailed reports of the routes made by the excursion groups. It is also possible to find a lot of information on the shelters managed by the CAI and the regulations on the paths managed by the association.


3

Route identification

At this point you will also have in mind the path you want to take. If in the previous point you have found a complete report that appeals to you by type of track and is inclined to your skills, you will already have a clear idea of the path of your adventure.
If, on the other hand, there is still something you want to deepen, that you want to customize to make your excursion even more unique and original, then you will need these additional tips.
In all the reports that you will have found in the sites / blogs you will have surely found the indication of the CAI path or the track to follow. The fundamental tool for orienting oneself and understanding which track to follow is the map or topographic map.
In the areas I usually frequent (Eastern Dolomites, Venetian Prealps, and Friulian Prealps) the reference cartography is the Tabacco. The Tabacco publishing house is very careful to always indicate the type of path based on the cleanliness of the path, in the presence of difficulties such as uncertain or aided sections.
Other very valid maps that I use in excursions to Tyrol, Lake Garda up to the westernmost part of Italy, are the topographic maps of the Kompass.
Thanks to this precious information it is possible to model the route as much as you like to make it original, personalized and as unique as possible.



4

Search for route information

Now you have in mind the destination, the complete route and all the information on the difficulty of the route. True, but on paper!
In fact the topographic maps are updated, but not so constantly. A trail can vary from one season to another, sometimes even after a couple of months following landslides or landslides.
You will therefore need to have further precautions to better plan the excursion and minimize the unpleasant surprises that a track chosen for the final destination could reserve for you. Usually the most famous destinations, the most famous refuges have very beaten paths, clean and maintained both during the summer and in the winter season. In this case, you just need to access the portals of the shelters or the municipality to which the area belongs to retrieve any information on the paths that are closed or under maintenance.
I advise you to check the portals of the region or municipality in any case, as there may be events (usually many trails pass through the most popular trails) or events organized on the chosen route. As beautiful and folkloric as this may be, most of the time it does not allow you to fully enjoy the excursion.


If you have chosen a wilder or less known route, here are my tips to find the necessary information on the route:

  • 3D maps: useful for identifying and understanding the most recent terrain conformation. You can find very detailed information with:
    • Google Earth (much better than its brother Google Maps), with which it is possible to observe the updated satellite images.
    • PeakVisor, sometimes it has more recent 3D modeled satellite imagery than Google Earth. This feature, however, is paid.
    • Bing Maps, main alternative to Google Earth / Maps allows has a special feature that allows you to compare the satellite images of a specific area in different periods. It is very useful to understand if there have been events such as landslides or landslides in the chosen path.
  • Updated reports: if you have found any reviews of the route, or part of it, in the various magazines, blogs or portals, it is good to identify the exact period in which the reports of the excursion were written. The more recent you are, the more likely you will be to find the same trail conditions. A dated relationship can be very dangerous: in the mountains the situation changes very rapidly and in recent years, thanks to increasingly incisive atmospheric events, it is better to make sure that the path to take is safe and viable.
  • Contact with hikers: if you have found some travel notes and it is dated, it is a good idea to try to contact the author and ask for more details personally (perhaps via e-mail or facebook). This way the author himself can direct you to the most reliable sources to find updated information.
  • Mountain guide: for the most difficult routes, where there is no information written in books or on the web, I recommend that you contact the mountain guides. Each mountain area has its own specialized group of guides who will be able to help you understand the conditions of the route and, if necessary, accompany you to ensure maximum safety.


5

Weather forecast

Don't underestimate this point. Obviously the weather is a fundamental part of deciding where and when to start a mountain adventure. However, many rely on one, at most two weather forecast providers. Instead, I advise you to consult as many as possible, to find out if there are any specific entities in the destination area. Very important thing: check the weather until the evening before departure!
There are excursions that develop on easy and tourist routes where a downpour does not worry the hiker. This is because there are various places of shelter (refuges, huts, bivouacs) or because they do not develop in the middle of the woods.
If, on the other hand, the route winds through via ferratas, ledges, isolated roads without refreshment points, high roads, scree, places with a large presence of flora and an abundance of water (rivers, streams, canals), in these cases, even the slightest presence of bad weather could seriously endanger your safety!
Here is the list of the weather that I consult (in this order!):

  1. ilMeteo: I never got a prediction wrong! I constantly check it from 3 days before the excursion and it manages to give me exceptional reliability!
  2. ArpaV: is the Arpa weather forecast for the Veneto region. Usually, by locating my excursions in these areas, it is the second reference weather as regards the accuracy of the forecasts and the circumscription of the area to be verified. There is a specific section with in-depth information on the weather in the Dolomites alone. If your excursion does not take place in Veneto, check the various Arpa sections relating to the destination region.
  3. 3B Meteo: when ilMeteo or ArpaV have a relatively low percentage of reliability (less than 70%) I integrate the analysis with this meteo. By intertwining the three forecasts on the same area, I have a precise vision of what the weather will be on the estimated day.
  4. Meteo Areonatica Militare: I use it as a litmus test. Usually if the first 2/3 instruments I have just brought back guarantee me a beautiful day, I don't even look at this weather. In case of doubt, however, I check the forecast resulting from the 3 weather with this of the Air Force.

In addition to the weather you will need to check the temperatures of the day / night. A night storm in the days before your outing could have caused the daily temperatures to drop, so you will need to equip yourself properly. A multi-day excursion will have to take these climate precautions into consideration.


I advise you to leave, if and only if, the weather forecasts guarantee good weather from the morning at least until late afternoon (16-17) for day excursions. For the time relating to multi-day excursions, always check the temperatures in case of bivouac in tents.
Remember that the weather in the mountains changes suddenly: do not get caught unprepared in the event of a summer downpour, even if it is short-lived!



6

Preparation of the backpack

The backpack is essential, it must be composed of everything you will need without weighing down your step towards the summit!

To know how to prepare a perfect backpack, I refer you to the detailed guide I made here: The perfect backpack




7

Security

When organizing a mountain trip, safety must be taken into consideration! Not only in the equipment, in the control of the weather and all the other attentions that we have presented so far.
Security must also be organized in detail to avoid being unprepared in extreme cases and possible unexpected events. An accidental fall, a sudden change of weather, an illness of one of our adventure companions: these are just some of the unexpected events that can occur suddenly and you will need to be prepared to resolve these situations quickly and promptly.

Below is the list with the points, in my opinion, essential for optimal safety:

  • Having hiking companions : however beautiful and original it may be, a solo outing is to be considered extremely dangerous. At any time you may need something, you may have a faint or simply a retort. You may therefore find yourself in trouble without the possibility of someone assisting you promptly. For this reason, my first advice is to organize your adventure together with at least one other component, so as to always have a person by your side so that you can assist each other in need.
  • Always report the complete route of the excursion : when you have planned everything down to the smallest detail, share the information with someone of your friends, girlfriend / or family who stay at home. Update them on the time of departure, route, possible variations that you could make and hypothetical time of arrival. Agree with them a maximum time limit for which you should definitely be at home or at least have the possibility to make a call. This point is fundamental to allow chiti loves to know you in those places, with that precise path, in that period of time. In the event of an accident, the rescuers will know where to look for you and recover you precisely.
  • Know the emergency numbers : you need to know which numbers are useful for mountain rescue. It is also a good idea to also know how to request help for the most extreme cases. For this reason, I refer you to the website of the National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps (CNSAS). In this link, you will find all the information on how to request the first aid of the mountain rescue in the correct way.
    In any case, the essential information to know are:
    • 118: the single number for health emergencies, active throughout the national territory
    • 112: single European emergency number
  • GeoResQ: is a geolocation service and forwarding of assistance requests. The service, managed by the National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps (CNSAS) and promoted by the Italian Alpine Club (CAI), allows you to determine your geographical position, to track your excursions in real time and, if necessary, '' forwarding of alarms and requests for assistance through the GeoResQ operations center.
    It is an app to keep and activate on every excursion. At this link you can find all and information about this tool.
  • Garmin inReach® Mini: inReach Mini allows portable connection to always be reachable. This is the portable satellite communication and safety system developed by Garmin for outdoor adventures. This special object also takes into account reduced size and weight, essential for mountain excursions!
    With this tool you will have the possibility to be safe even in those remote places where the connection of the mobile phone / smartphone is not available. With special subscriptions (even for a single month!) You will have the opportunity to be safe and accessible anywhere on the planet! For May information on tariff plans click on this link.

Remember: it is essential to share the strategies and safety tools used in the mountain adventure with fellow hikers. In this way, anyone in the group can take care of the health of the other members.



8

Useful apps

In this section I am pleased to give you the complete list of all the APPs that I personally use for the preparation of my adventures in the mountains!
These are applications on the Apple Store and Play Store.


ilMeteo

Meteo - by iLMeteo.it

Reliable and precise forecasts to plan and enjoy your days to the fullest, without being caught unprepared by sudden weather changes. Thanks to details on seas, winds, air quality, radar and personalized widgets, the iLMeteo app is the most downloaded in Italy with over 10 million downloads.

Apple Store
Play Store

3B Meteo

3B Meteo - Previsioni Meteo

Reliable and accurate weather forecasts, continuously updated in the first 24 hours, thanks to the Nowcasting technique which, using real weather data, satellite images, radar and lightning strikes, allows to obtain a very reliable forecast for the following hours even on very restricted areas.

Apple Store
Play Store

Meteo Aeronautica Militare

Meteo Aeronautica

The official application of the Italian Air Force - Meteorological Service ( www.meteoam.it) provides the main meteorological information observed and forecast relating to the national territory and makes use of the consolidated professionalism and experience in the sector acquired by the Arma Azzurra.

Apple Store
Play Store

GeoResQ

GeoResQ

GeoResQ is a geolocation service and forwarding of rescue requests dedicated to all mountain goers and lovers of outdoor sports. The service, managed by the National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps (CNSAS) and promoted by the Italian Alpine Club (CAI), allows you to determine your geographical position, to track your excursions in real time, guarantee the archiving of your routes. on the dedicated portal, and in case of need, the forwarding of alarms and requests for assistance through the GeoResQ operations center. GeoResQ wants to be a valid help to increase the safety of your excursions and for the rapid forwarding of your requests for help in case of emergency.

Apple Store

Tabacco

TABACCOmapp

Finally the high quality of TABACCO maps in digital version. The application is free and you can buy the Tabacco maps divided into cartographic modules. The application also allows you to share your excursions on the community www.tabaccomapp-community.it where you can review your excursions in 3D!

Apple Store
Play Store

Outdooractive

Outdooractive: Escursions

It is the ideal companion for hiking, cycling, mountaineering and other outdoor activities. With the app you can easily find and plan routes around the world. The latest vector maps provide accurate information on hiking and biking trails, protected areas and details on many other outdoor activities.
Global Route Database: navigate among an incalculable number of suggested routes for hiking, cycling and ski mountaineering. All routes are provided with every detail, elevation profile, photos and directions.
Route planning: not the “Create your own route” function you can easily plan and create routes according to your preferences. You can add text and photos, post them to the community, or share them privately with friends. You can also import and export GPX files.

Apple Store
Play Store

Peak Finder

PeakFinder

The mountains are calling! Explore more mountains than a climber! PeakFinder makes it possible… and displays the names of all the mountains and peaks in a 360 ° panoramic view.
Works completely offline and worldwide!
The app knows more than 850,000 peaks, from Mount Everest to the small hill around the corner.

Apple Store
Play Store

Peak Visor

PeakVisor

(A pagamento)

PeakVisor will make you an outdoor superhero by placing cutting-edge 3D maps and the ability to identify mountains in the palm of your hand.

Apple Store
Play Store

Relive

Relive: Corsa, Bici, Trekking

If you like running, cycling, hiking or any outdoor adventure, you will love Relive. And it's free!
Millions of runners, cyclists, hikers, skiers, snowboarders and other adventurers use Relive to share their activities with 3D video stories.
See how it went, create amazing stories and share your passion with friends!
Just go out, record the activity, take some photos and enjoy the moment. Finished? It's time to create your video! Outdoor activities have never been this cool.

Apple Store
Play Store

Is there any other app that you think I should recommend? Contact me!


We have come to the conclusion of this short guide. You should now have all the information you need to plan any excursion that suits your abilities.
Remember to make a final check the day before the scheduled exit so that everything is organized in detail.

Now you are ready to go: backpack and ... have a good adventure!


21/04/2021
Paolo Segat - MyBestTimeHiking
(updated at 10/08/2021)