Wild Women's Top Tips For Hiking The Himalayas
By Di Westaway and the Wild Women 'Mustang Sallies'
Step, breathe, step, breathe, step, breathe…
This is the meditation mantra of our Wild Women team of Himalayan hikers, who recently trekked from Jomsom, the gateway to the hidden Kingdom Of Mustang, to Lo Mantang, near the Tibetan border, in search of adventure, tranquillity and the ancient Tiji Festival.
After 12 days of thin air, heat, dust and heavenly views, our tent-based hikers compiled this list of tips, to help both newbies and seasoned hikers fine tune their packing and performance for a more fun and fabulous adventure through the Himalayas.
Prepare for all weather
No matter what your itinerary says, the Himalayas are the biggest mountains in the world and the weather can go from hot to cold in seconds, several times a day. So, choose your clothes carefully, use layering, and make sure you have adequate wind, rain, dust and sun protection.
Pack minimalist for clothing
Just take one day set including wet and windy options, and one night set including a singlet and leggings. Plus several pairs of undies and socks.
Protect your skin
Pack a kick-arse moisturizer and a heavy duty, zinc-based sunblock for all exposed skin.
Bring your buff
Buffs are excellent for heat, cold, wind and dust. You’ll want a light buff, a fleecy buff and a bandana. And if you get hot, dunk your buff in a mountain stream.
Douse it in Tiger Balm
You want to keep your nose clear on dusty, windy trails. Try putting white Tiger Balm on your buff before pulling it over your face.
Take multiple water options
You want a hydration pack/bladder, of course. But it’s also great to have two wide-mouth Nalgene drink bottles – one 600ml and one 1L. Your 1L can be used as a hot water bottle on cold nights, is the 600ml is great for electrolytes or ‘buff water’ (yeah, just water to dip your buff in!) when it’s hot.
Don’t forget a few pegs and/or a washing line for socks and t shirts. If you need to dry your undies, you can drape them over your hot Nalgene bottle before you go to sleep, and they’ll be dry by morning!
Bring the heavy-duty face wipes
Thick, alcohol-free face wipes have many uses, including daily wishy-washy cleaning, tent cleaning and face cleaning.
And the heavy-duty zip locks
Essential for snacks, rubbish and treasures.
Don’t forget your phone charger
Particularly if your phone is your camera. Also, putting your phone on low-power mode (or airplane mode) will help the battery last longer.
Take care of your sinuses
Fezz nose spray is great for preventing a blocked, sensitive nose from the dry plane air and also works to clear dust from your nose during the hike.
Think about TP
Sometimes toilets in Nepal are pretty bad – cramped, dark and stinky. They’re places where you’d rather not touch anything. So, make yourself a lanyard that hangs around your neck with your loo paper on it. Also, to ease the transition from western to eastern toilets, practice deep squatting while balancing before you commence your trek!
Get yourself a seat
You can buy cheap, light-weight bottom pads to sit on during stops along the trail. Get one. They will protect your bum from dirt, dust, little stones and prickles!
Prepare your snacks
Our favourite endurance-enhancing snacks include ginger chews, eucalyptus drops, XXX Mints, dark chocolate-coated coffee beans, chocolate-coated macadamias, salted cashews and tamari almonds. And don’t forget the Vegemite!
Protect your face
A full-brim hat is a winner for sun protection, but make sure it’s got a toggle-cord option for wind resistance.
Shine bright (red)
You’ll need a head torch, for sure. Make sure you’ve got one with a red-light option to prevent waking or blinding your tent buddy! Also, always pack spare batteries in your carry-on luggage and then pop them in your backpack.
Have a great night’s sleep
Always pack a pillowcase and a sleeping bag liner. These are essential items for ensuring a good night’s sleep when you’re not sure of the sleeping arrangements. The pillowcase means you’ll always have a pillow – just stuff your down jacket or woollens inside. The liner is perfect for adding extra warmth, plus protecting you from bed bugs!!