THE BASICS OF TOUR PLANNING
There are several things to observe when planning a tour. This checklist will help you to keep the most important aspects in mind.
TOUR PLANNING CHECKLIST
Who is participating? How big is the group? Does the tour suit the ability and motivation of the participants? Homogenous groups with comparable ability, similar motivation and a clear structure often act more cautiously. It helps to come to clear agreements and allocate tasks and roles.
What is the latest weather report for the day of the tour (amount of new snow, wind, temperature)? How was the weather on the previous days? But visibility is crucial not only to orientation, but also danger assessment. If you can’t see, you can’t assess anything!
What does the latest avalanche bulletin say (danger level, avalanche problems, dangerous areas, snowpack)? In addition to the avalanche bulletin, information about the amount of new and wind-drifted snow (snow monitoring stations), wind and temperature (weather stations) and from webcams (visibility, clouds) are also helpful. Many avalanche bulletins also share information about current snow profiles online (ww.lawis.at).
Which area and tour suit the group and the conditions? Even the decision about where to go should only be made subject to the weather, danger level and avalanche problems. However, the tour must also suit the ability, motivation and physical condition of the group members.
Choice of route
How and where does the route lead exactly? You should have an overview of the individual stages of the tour before you even leave home. Every group member should know the terrain features, slope aspect, steepness and length of the stages.
Where are the cruxes and how should the risks there be rated? What are the possible alternatives?
The planning stage should be used to create a “picture” of each crux. This “picture” should be compared with reality at the checkpoint before the crux. Is the avalanche problem as pronounced as you imagined, are the conditions the same as your expectations, how is the visibility?
How much time needs to be planned for the tour with the group in the current conditions? A time plan with intermediate destinations should be created in the planning phase. When on the tour, you should check whether you are keeping to the time plan or whether it is necessary to shorten or end the tour.
What equipment is necessary? What needs to be packed in your backpack? Individual emergency and group equipment should be discussed in advance and checked before starting out. This includes discussing mountaineering and protection equipment such as harnesses, ropes, crampons, ski crampons and ice axes.
Is the group well informed? Do the participants have the correct equipment? Before every tour you should not only carry out an avalanche transceiver check, but also talk through important points, equipment and the route. Many accidents are due in part to a lack of communication.
“Rolling planning” means that you constantly compare what you have planned with the reality in the mountains.
Does the plan suit the actual conditions, the group, the chronological sequence of the tour? The tour plan should be constantly reviewed and adapted as necessary.