Equipped for the outdoors

Equipped for the outdoors

The unfortunate incident at Bannerghatta Park recently has thrown into the spotlight a fairly important issue — the safety of several outdoor activities.

Now that post-work entertainment isn’t just about television and mall outings, many youngsters have picked up adventure sports like trekking, rock climbing and rappelling, which they pursue fairly religiously on weekends. As interest in these activities has piqued, a number of clubs and even equipment stores, catering to amateur trekkers and rock-climbers, have mushroomed across the City. What few people address, however, are the safety precautions that have to be taken while pursuing them. Outdoor activities, after all, can be dangerous — and it’s important to approach them with the right attitude. Metrolife speaks to a few outdoor enthusiasts to find out their take on the safety angle of their sport.

Partha, who is a part of the Bangalore Mountaineering Club, has a taste for excitement, which is what led him to take up climbing. But he’s the first to admit that it isn’t an activity that should be treated lightly. “Many young professionals want to have a bit of fun, so they simply take a piece of rope, find the nearest mountain and try to climb it. Some of the popular places to climb here are Ramnagaram and Turahalli. It’s extraordinarily careless behaviour to go alone — when someone is mountaineering, it’s very important to have an experienced person with you. You need to have an expert knowledge of the place you’ll be climbing as well as about stamina and different techniques,” he states.

There are many technicalities to rock climbing, especially in terms of the kind of ropes used and the strength of the knots tied. Since they support the climber’s weight, nothing can be more crucial than to ensure the knots are sound. “While climbing or rappelling, people also have to have some degree of knowledge about the area they’re in. But the problem is that youngsters believe they can manage on their own — an attitude that can lead to accidents,” explains Partha.

Gurudatt, from the Bangalore Trekking Club, reasons, “There are different levels of difficulty when it comes to trekking, but each has its own safety requirements. The first thing to remember, of course — especially in deep-jungle trekking — is the threat of wild animals. It isn’t uncommon to come across an elephant, leopard or bear and it’s important to be with someone who understands the psychology of the animal in such a case. For instance, many of these animals will not attack if they don’t feel threatened.”

He too believes that understanding the geography of the area helps. “Trekkers in Bangalore tend to flock to the Nandi Hills and Skandagiri. But such treks have to be properly organised. We make it a point to go with a local of the area we’re trekking in, since he will understand it much better. Also, in particularly thick jungles, we take the permission of the forest department and often, they send an armed guard with us.
Navigation is also important — which is where modern technology like GPS systems come in handy,” he suggests.

Sharath, another avid trekker, adds, “It’s important to be prepared for the worst-case scenario and get acquainted with the place your visiting — ask people who have been there before or simply browse the net; there’s a lot of information there.”

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