Your Online Handbook for Sils, Switzerland
We look forward to seeing you in the mountains. Please forward this link to all members of your party – and perhaps bookmark it for quick reference?
Any questions or concerns? Please call us on 01799 513331.
Useful to know before you go
We ask that all guests, regardless of which hotel or apartment they are staying in, to make their way directly to the Hotel Maria. If you have provided us with an ETA, a member of the team will be waiting to greet you and settle you in to your accommodation. On your arrival at the Hotel Maria, you will be asked to hand in the signed disclaimer sent to the person who booked the holiday prior to your departure. This should be signed by all members of your party. See the Disclaimer tab for a copy and more details.
We will also need to take a copy of your passports for the purpose of tourist registration, so please ensure you have your passport to hand or bring your own copy.
There is one bank with a cash machine/ATM in the village of Sils.
Day Off – Wednesday
We have our local day-off on a Wednesday. In the Hotel Maria, breakfast is served but dinner is not included as a part of your half-board stay, although the restaurant still serves food. Most guests use Wednesday as an opportunity to eat out locally. There are no organised walks on a Wednesday and there is no Office Hour. You can subscribe to Thursday’s organised walks on Tuesday evening. If you are arriving on a Wednesday, whilst there won’t be a member of the Collett’s team on duty, your hotel reception staff will meet you and settle you in. They will pass on the walking options for the following day or a member of the team will be available in the Hotel Maria the following morning to discuss options.
We need to know of any dietary requirements at least 7 days before your holiday. Please contact us now if you have not informed us if you, or any of your party, are vegetarian, vegan or coeliac etc. Thank you.
Disclaimer & At Your Own Risk
During your stay, please always bear in mind that you are responsible for your own safety. You join organised walks at your own risk as part of an autonomous group, in which each member has a duty of care to each other. Similarly, we cannot be held responsible for the opinions and information we offer for self-guiding. In an age of litigation, we repeat the ‘at your own’ risk message at the start of each organised walk and it can become repetitive, but the message is too important.
Estimated Time of Arrival
Please contact us ASAP with your arrival time if you haven’t already. So that we can be there to greet you and settle you in. Please visit www.colletts.co.uk/eta and enter your details. Have a guess if you are not sure. Please also keen our team in Sils updated on the day if you are delayed or early, by texting the resort mobile number. Your ETA is not required if you have booked an airport transfer.
Fly-Drivers & Self-Drivers
If you have booked a hire car, a credit (not debit!) card is essential. It is generally swiped but not debited, although it is wise to make sure it is not being debited.
You will also need your license DVLA Licence Check Code from the DVLA website.
Self-drivers should familiarise themselves with the driving requirements for Switzerland, and the compulsory equipment that must be carried in your car. See www.theaa.com
There are no free car parking spaces in the village and all guests staying at any of our accomdation need to pay a daily charge for this. THere is an underground car park in the village.
For driving directions see the Travel & Directions tab.
Fixed hair dryers are available in every en-suite bathroom of the Hotel Maria and are also provided in all our self-catering accommodation.
Free Wi-Fi access is available in the reception and dining room in the Hotel Maria for guests with their own laptops or other devices. Please ask at reception for the password. There is free Wi-Fi in all of our self-catering accommodation also.
Being adequately insured during your stay with us is essential – we strongly recommend you buy a comprehensive holiday insurance package at the time of booking. Having a travel insurance policy is one of the booking conditions for joining us on a Collett’s Mountain Holiday. Full details are available on request or on our website – www.colletts.co.uk/walking-holiday-insurance
Collett’s Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Campbell Irvine Ltd. who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This can be checked on the FCA’s register by visiting the FCA’s website at www.fca.org.uk or by contacting them on 0800 111 6787.
Packed lunches are available to you wherever you are staying, except on Wednesdays. Simply order one at Office Hour for collection from the Hotel Maria the following day. A standard packed lunch includes a sandwich with a choice of fillings, a piece of fruit, a snack bar and a drink. TThese will be added to your Red File account, which you can settle up on the eve of your departure. See – Red File.
Sils has one small supermarket. VOLG is located less than a 5 minute walk from the Hotel Maria and the centre of the village, and is open 7:15am ‐ 7:30pm Mon‐Fri and 7:15am ‐ 6:00pm Sat. Note that all supermarkets will be closed on Sundays, and just a small deli is open on Sunday.
Here is some local information in an A-Z format that will hopefully whet the appetite and help you hit the ground running.
Bread can be purchased in the Grond Café Bakery in Sils which is a few minutes’ walk from the self-catering apartments, they will also be happy to make sandwiches. Bread can also be purchased from the local supermarket, Volg which is a minute’s walk from Hotel Maria.
If you would like a beer, ask for ‘ein bier’. The most popular bottled beers in the Engadine are from a small brewery in Pontresina which produces a variety including the Bernina bier and Palü bier.
Both mountain bikes and road bikes are available to hire from the Parkplatz Fainera which is just across the road from the hotel, and cost around CHF 35 – 60 per day.
Day Off – Wednesday
Our resort staff have their day‐off on a Wednesday. In hotel Maria, breakfast is served but dinner is not included. It is possible to book in for dinner on this evening and pay locally, please speak to a member of staff in advance if you would like to do this. Alternatively, our staff can recommend some great nearby restaurants. There are no Organised Walks and there is no Office Hour so you will need to subscribe to Thursday’s Organised Walks on Tuesday evening.
Some options for Wednesday:
St Moritz: The well-known glamorous town of St Moritz is a great day exploring all the high-end shops and visiting the famous Cresta run which hosted the 1928 & 1948 Winter Olympics.
Bernina Express: Hop on the world famous train that heads up the Bernina pass to take you to the Diavolezza cable car or why not extend your train journey all the way to Tirano, Italy.
We would be grateful for your support in reducing our impact on the local environment.
‐ In the hills, leave the landscape in its natural state, in particular take any litter away with you and do not pick flowers;
‐ Turn off lights when you leave your room, turn down heating if not required and be conscious of your water usage.
Nestled in the South-east Alps of Switzerland, the Engadine is home to a number of wildflowers including Gentians and a variety of Orchids which are in bloom throughout the late spring/early summer months.
The region is home to a wide range of wildlife, with Ibex and deer roaming the woodland, with squirrels and marmots also ever present in the area.
Horse-drawn carriage rides
Take a trip by horse-drawn carriage into the Val Fex which is one of the most enjoyable experiences. Journey prices vary depending on the route, single and return tickets are available.
Free WiFi access is available throughout hotel Maria, for guests with their own laptops or other devices.
Visit the only National Park in Switzerland and is part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Find out more in visitor centre located in Zernez or take a walk in the vast forest and be sure to look out for Red Squirrels, Marmots, Chamois, Ibex etc…
Packed lunches are available to you wherever you are staying ‐ and can be ordered for a cost of CHF 8 at Office Hour for collection from our staff team the following day. They include a sandwich with a choice of fillings, a piece of fruit, a snack bar and a drink.
Petrol & Diesel
The nearest petrol station is located on the way into the town of St Moritz and is a BP garage.
In Switzerland a chemist is always indicated by a green cross. There are a couple of chemist’s located in St Moritz, the closest to Sils. They are open Mon to Fri from 8am to 12.15pm then re-open later in the afternoon from 2 until 6.30pm.
The highest peak in the Engadine, sitting at 4048m is Piz Bernina and is located within the Bernina range.
The nearest post office is 100m down the road from the hotel and is behind the bus station. Stamps can be purchased from here so you can send postcards to the UK or any other destination and usually takes 4 days to get there.
Hopefully there won’t be any! If you are unlucky, please bear in mind that the weather in the mountains can be very localised and it is not unusual to leave the village on a rainy day to find brighter conditions a few miles away. Suggestions for what to do if it does rain are available at Office Hour or please ask a member of staff for more information. Our Organised Walks would only be cancelled if it is deemed that the weather makes conditions dangerous.
Sauna and spa
The Arena resort Schweizerhof is a 5-minute walk from the hotel and offers a variety of massages and also has a saltwater pool to relax in after a day out on the mountain. This can be paid for locally and if you want a massage please ask a member of staff to book this. This a good relaxing day off option.
Sils is a small village located in the valley bottom between two big lakes. It boasts a few small bars that catch the last of the days sun, and as an extra treat horse and carriage rides are available to transport you into the next valley.
Since May 2010, smoking in public places has been illegal in Switzerland. All of our accommodation is non‐smoking.
The nearest supermarket is Volg in Sils. It sells most things and is just a few minute’s walk from the hotel.
Towels & Bed Linen
One bath towel and one hand towel is supplied for each guest. Towels can be changed at any time during your stay when put in the bottom of the bath or shower.
As Sils is situated between two big lakes there is a variety of water sport activities that include windsurfing, kitesurfing and paddle boarding. If this is something you fancy, please ask a member of staff for more details.
Travel & Transfers
Before leaving home
Passport – Is it in date? Contact the passport office here if you need to renew your passport
Walking Holiday Insurance – Do you have any? Contact us on 01799 513331 or click here for details
Flight Check-in – Remember to print off your boarding pass
Baggage – Have you checked the size & weight of your baggage?
Book Airport Hotel – Click here
Book Airport Parking – Click here
Fly Drivers and Self Drivers
We ask that all guests (regardless of which hotel or apartment) make their way to the Hotel Maria in the centre of Sils. From there, if staying elsewhere, one of our team will show you to your accommodation. You can check-in to your accommodation from 3pm onwards and if you have provided us with an ETA, a member of Collett’s staff will be available to meet you. Please contact us if you have not yet provided an ETA, or are delayed. Click here to submit your E.T.A.
Parking – Underground parking is availble in the village at a daily charge. There is no free parking within the village.
Google Map Directions
If you plan to arrive in Ehrwald by train, you can pre-book train tickets online using the website www.bahn.com or alternatively purchase tickets at Munich airport from the tickets manchines in the terminal. You will first take an S-Bahn shuttle train from Munich airport to Munich Main Station “Munchen Hauptbahnhof”, before changing platforms and buildings take a train direct to Ehrwald. The name of Ehrwald station is “Ehrwald Zugspitzbahn”. Sometimes the carriages separate at the town of Garmisch-Partenkichen before continuing on to Ehrwald. Please contact us for any advice or guidance on train travel, and ask for Kelly.
Upon arrival in Ehrwald you can walk from the station to the Hotel Sonnenspitze on the central Kirchplatz square in approx. 20mins. Please download and refer to our Directions and Maps here.
Alternatively, if you prefer not to walk, there are periodic buses that stop at the station or you can pre-book a taxi from the station with a locally based taxi firm called ‘Shuttle & More…’ It’s a 5 minute drive to Hotel Sonnenspitze or the Romantik Spielmann – they offer a 24 hour service and speak good English and the cost is approx. €5 – €10. Please note that Ehrwald station is small and there will not be taxis waiting at the station.
Milan Bergamo Airport Transfer
If you are booked to join an Airport Transfer, you will be met by a member of our staff at Milan Bergamo airport at a pre‐arranged time. Details of transfer times are sent by post by Dee Collett to the person who booked the holiday approximately 2 weeks before your holiday.
We meet by the “food factory” café, which is 20m to the right as you come out of arrivals and is inside the arrivals hall of the terminal building. A member of our team will take you to your transfer vehicle but will not accompany you on your journey. The transfer time is around 2 hours 45 mins.
Important Notes concerning Collett’s Transfers – We try to keep ‘waiting at the airport’ to a minimum, but you have booked a transfer on the understanding that it is a possibility on both your day of arrival and departure. We are not offering a personal taxi service. Our transfer times are set to help us group people together from a number of different flights, both morning and afternoon. Waiting may also be caused by delayed flights – within reason. Please cancel your airport transfer and make your own plans if you are not happy with these arrangements, which by and large work very well.
On arrival at Hotel Maria, you will be met by another member of our staff who will help you with your luggage and settle you in to your room. Please note that any guests staying in self-catering will also be dropped off at hotel Maria then walked over by a member of staff, roughly a 5 minute walk.
Useful Numbers & Contact Info.
Please ensure you enter the following telephone numbers in to your phone so you have them with you on your day of travel.
|Collett's Mountain Holidays
Via da Marias 19,
+41 81832 61 00
Google Map Link
|Resort Mobile - 0044 7456 043 762|
|Collett's Mountain Holidays UK - 0044 (0) 1799 513331 Monday - Friday 9am-5.30pm / Saturday 9am-3pm
(Outside of these hours please call the Resort Mobile - thank you)
On arrival, you will be asked to hand in the disclaimer sent by post to the person who booked the holiday. In this age of litigation, it is important that you understand your relationship with Collett’s Ltd. when joining our organised walks or using our information to self-guide.
1. The disclaimer below sets out this relationship, emphasising that we are not qualified guides and that you join our organised walks at your own risk as a member of a group in which each member has a duty of care to the other. See more detailed notes in our brochure on Page 81.
2. Ideally it will be signed by each member of your party and handed to us on your arrival. If you require more copies, click here to print it as a PDF.
Copy of our Disclaimer – for your reference
Mobile Phone No:
Everything you do during your stay in Switzerland is done ‘at your own risk’.
To make your arrival in Switzerland as plain sailing as possible, please could you and each member of your party read and sign this disclaimer, handing it to us on your arrival. If it is not possible to obtain all signatures prior to your holiday, signatures will need to be obtained on your party’s arrival in Switzerland. In these days of litigation, it is important you and your party understand your relationship with Collett’s and without your party’s signatures on this disclaimer, you will not be able to join our Organised Walks and we would be reluctant to pass on information and opinions to you during your stay.
Information & Opinions
We are happy to offer information and opinions on the area (including walks, protected paths, Via Ferrata, sport climbs, bike rides, places of interest etc). We always endeavour to give accurate and appropriate information and opinions, but we do not take any responsibility for them and they are acted upon by you at your own risk. By signing this disclaimer, you agree you do not hold Collett’s responsible for any information or opinions it offers you during your stay and that you do everything during your stay with Collett’s at your own risk
Our Walk Organisers attend these on a goodwill basis so that you might partake in an itinerary you might not otherwise come across during your stay in a sociable atmosphere with like-minded people.
By signing this disclaimer you confirm the following:
- You understand the Walk Organisers are not qualified mountain guides.
- You join them at your own risk and of your own free will.
- You are part of an autonomous group, responsible for your own safety and happy to accept the discretion and actions of any or all participants on that Organised Walk or activity in the event of injury to you, the need to have you rescued or otherwise.
- You will only sign up to an Organised Walk having independently studied the route sufficiently and deemed it to be within your capability.
When joining an Organised Walk, you might be asked to drive/accept a lift from someone, who is not in your booking party, to and from an excursion. The system works well but by signing this disclaimer you accept that Collett’s will not accept any liability in the event of a road accident and that you enter into any such arrangements at your own risk.
Activities supplied by Third Parties
We are happy to inform you of (and book) activities supplied by third parties, but it is important that you understand that: these excursions and activities are neither run nor controlled by Collett’s (even if advertised by us); that we only act as your agent; and that your contract for these services is with the third party supplier in question and not Collett’s Limited. Consequently, we are not responsible/liable for the provision of any such third party excursions or activities or for anything that happens during the course of its provision by the supplier. This applies to all activities advertised by Collett’s in our brochure, on our website and in resort.
Finally, during your stay, you might inadvertently (or not!) be included in photography that subsequently appears in Collett’s promotional materials. By signing this disclaimer, you agree that this is ok with you.
Signature 1 :
Print Name :
Signature 2 :
Print Name :
Signature 3 :
Print Name :
Signature 4 :
Print Name :
Thank you. Have a good and safe stay in Switzerland.
Collett’s Limited trading as Collett’s Mountain Holidays – 3a Market Hill, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 1HQ
Checklist & Packing Suggestions
☐ Euros or credit/debit cards (there is one cash machine in Sils)
☐ Holiday Insurance
☐ EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)
☐ Mobile telephone & charger
☐ Signed disclaimer
☐ Flight tickets and/or printed boarding pass
☐ Have you checked the size & weight of your baggage?
☐ Driving licence
☐ International Driving Permit (if required for driving in the EU)
☐ Printed copy of driving licence ‘check code’ Visit gov.uk/view-driving-licence
☐ Car hire voucher
☐ Credit card of the lead driver
☐ Sat Nav & European road map
☐ Driving licence
☐ International Driving Permit (if required for driving in the EU)
☐ Ferry / tunnel ticket
☐ Insurance & car registration documents
☐ European breakdown cover
☐ GB Sticker (must be displayed in the EU)
☐ Warning triangle (must be carried in the EU)
☐ Fluorescent bibs (must be carried in the EU)
☐ Spare bulbs
☐ Sat Nav & European road map
☐ Clothes, footwear & wash kit
☐ Sunglasses, sun hat & sun cream
☐ Swimming kit (indoor pool in Ehrwald)
☐ Camera, memory card, batteries & charger
☐ Pocket reference books (e.g. flowers)
☐ German phrase book
☐ Games, playing cards, books?
☐ Continental plug-adapter (European voltage for normal appliances is 220-240 Volts)
☐ A level of fitness to suit your own intentions!
☐ Strong, light, comfortable walking boots,
which support the ankle
☐ Waterproof jacket and trousers
☐ Clothing suitable for hot and cold temperatures
☐ Lightweight rucksack (25 litres plus)
☐ Telescopic walking poles
☐ Basic first-aid kit
☐ Water bottle (min. 2 litres, 3 litres is recommended for harder walks)
☐ Map case
☐ Compass, whistle, torch, survival bag
To Add to Your Mobile Contacts
☐ Resort Mobiles: 0044 7456 043 762
☐ Hotel Sonnenspitze: 0041 818 326 100
☐ Collett’s UK Office: 0044 1799 513331
☐ Emergency Services 1414
At Your Own Risk, Duty of Care, Procedures & Mountain Safety
As you will know, we offer a weekly programme of organised walks which you can join at no extra cost. Our walk organisers are not qualified guides and you join them at your own risk. Similarly, if you choose to walk independently, we cannot take responsibility for information gleaned from our Ideas & Information Files, Route Laminates and the first-hand knowledge/opinions of our own people. To this extent, it is essential that you ultimately decide independently whether any itinerary you choose to do – be it self-guided or ‘organised’ – is suitable for you and your party.
In short, everything you do during your stay in the mountains is done at your own risk. In the event of personal injury or death, we are not liable for efforts made by us to enhance your stay, amongst which are our organised walks and various printed and verbal suggestions. It is a fact that activities undertaken in the mountains are associated with personal injury and death. By coming to such an area with Collett’s Mountain Holidays – or indeed independently – you are exposing yourself and your party to the (thankfully small) possibility of personal injury or death. In such an event, Collett’s Mountain Holidays will not be held responsible for your interest in mountainous areas and your involvement in mountain pursuits, which can occasionally have tragic consequences.
We put safety first but you are as responsible as we are!
You join our organised walks as part of an autonomous group, in which each member has a duty of care to each other. Not being professionally responsible for you does not mean we turn a blind eye to safety, nor does it make us exempt from owing a duty of care to you. Your safety is essential to us and we therefore take our own safety measures, endeavouring to minimise the possibility of personal injury and death. We do this in line with legal requirements pertaining to duty of care. We assess, communicate and manage risk as part of a formal company Health & Safety Policy, which is regularly reviewed and includes the training our own walkers. We try to make people aware of the importance of mountain safety and their responsibilities as part of a group. As with any person or organisation involved with activities where there is a possibility of personal injury or death, the issue of duty of care is ever-present and, in the absence of a qualified guide in ‘non-professional’ activities anywhere in the world, such as walking (whether organised by a company, club, university or even a friend) every member of the group has a legal commitment to all involved. This commitment to your fellow walkers should form the basis of your behaviour and actions during an organised walk, especially in the event of accident or injury. Our focus on safety should not influence whether you decide to join an organised walk or not, for at the heart of our procedures are basic mountain safety measures, which should be undertaken by any walker when preparing for a day out in the mountains, especially when walking/climbing in a group, where your actions (or inaction) could compromise your safety as well as that of other people in the group.
Some notes about our Organised Walks
Our programme of organised walks is put together on a goodwill basis by our own walk organisers and we ask you to accept their discretion where the selection of walks is concerned. You won’t be disappointed. Each week the programme changes and is duly published to our guests. Everyday except on our local day-off, Wednesday, we offer two different walks, one more demanding than the other. Prior to joining up to an organised walk, please remember somebody else’s opinion of a walk is their opinion, not your knowledge. Try to acquaint yourself independently with the proposed route using the relevant map to help you decide if it is suitable for your level of fitness and experience. Also, ask about precipitous features if prone to vertigo. Some walks feature ledge paths with significant drops and switchback tracks on steep slopes. Wednesday is our staff day off and there are no organised walks on this day. Our organised walks take place in a sociable and informal atmosphere and, whilst you are encouraged not to join one unless you are certain it is within your physical capabilities, we walk at the pace of the slowest person and pause regularly. You do not pay to join our organised walks and in the event of a walk organiser being ill, we cannot guarantee the excursion will take place. Children can join our organised walks but only if accompanied by a guardian, who takes full responsibility for their safety and behaviour.
Guest Car Sharing & Taxis – With various people choosing to join various walks in various locations, you might be asked to give (or take) a lift with someone. Please do not do either unless you are happy that, in the event of an accident, Collett’s will not accept any liability. If ever taxis are used, the cost is shared across the party.
Procedures on meeting up for a walk – All organised walks will depart from the Hotel Sonnenspitze at a time established at Office Hour the night before. Prior to leaving, the walk organiser will run through an equipment checklist and at the start of the actual walk, he/she will state the following:
- They are not qualified guides and everyone joins the Organised Walk at their own risk;
- The party is walking as a group of non-qualified individuals and the walk organiser, as someone who knows the route, is the nominal leader only;
- Everyone should follow the course and progress of the route on their map checking the correct route is being adhered to;
- They will generally walk at the pace of the slowest person in the party and it is the responsibility of each member of the party to keep the rest of the group in sight;
- If anyone wants to rest at any time, they should not hesitate to ask;
- If anyone wants to leave the party at any time could they please let someone in the group know, otherwise we might have to assume you are lost and alert mountain rescue;
- Everyone owes a ‘duty of care’ to each other. In the event of an accident, the organiser will act in a way they deem safest to offer assistance, but would of course appreciate the assistance of the rest of the party;
- If it is the first time the organiser has done a route, the party understand this and it is an ‘adventure’ for all involved.
Mountain Safety & Emergency Procedures
Here are some notes that might help you refresh or improve your awareness of safety in the mountains. When in the mountains and when planning itineraries, apply your mind to safety at all times. Poor preparation is often the cause of many accidents and dramas. As a general guide to safety we have used information published by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) and the British Mountaineering Council to produce the following notes:
Prevention Of Accidents – Basic Rules For Increased Safety In The Mountains
- Never underestimate the dangers and the risks attached to a day out in the mountains – hostile environments, rapid changes in weather conditions, etc.
- Select itineraries within your level of fitness and technical/physical ability and within those of your party members.
- Do not go alone – if possible, go with others or, for more safety, go in the company of an alpine guide or a qualified organisation. (Collett’s is not a qualified organisation but we will endeavour to arrange local guides if requested to do so). Prior to departing, research and familiarise yourself adequately with the characteristics and difficulties of the itinerary. Study carefully the relevant topographical map.
- Let someone know where you are going and leave details of your itinerary. (Do not change your itinerary without informing somebody).
- Have a contingency plan in the event of the unexpected. An innacurate or out of date map, route deterioration or a landslide, could all cause a change in your itinerary.
- Mountain Weather conditions should always be taken into account. A forecast is available from local tourist offices every day and whilst variations in mountain forecasts are not uncommon, they are worth consulting.
- Have the right clothing. You should have a robust pair of walking boots/shoes, which support the ankle. Take a waterproof/wind-proof jacket and some spare clothes in your rucksack.
- Be responsible. Always carry the relevant map at all times. Carry safety equipment such as a compass, torch, whistle, spare food and an understanding of how to use them in case of emergency. If you have a health condition, please ensure that you carry any necessary medication at all times, and inform another member of your party so that somebody is aware of your circumstances.
- Have adequate insurance cover. Don’t leave home without it, you can’t take out insurance after you departure!
Some Points Specific To Mountainous Areas
- Avalanches – residual snow and early snow falls, coupled with high summer temperatures can lead to the risk of avalanche. Avoid walking on steep sided, snow covered slopes.
- Lightning – thunderstorms are a feature of mountain weather. If lightning is close, avoid any cables, summits, ridges, trees and caves. There are various opinions as to the best course of action in this event, but it is probably safest to sit the storm out on a rucksack in open ground.
- Residual Snow – in early-mid summer be aware of residual snow on some trails. Late lying snow can be treacherous underfoot, and if you slip it may be difficult to stop. There may also be hidden hazards underneath (ditches, streams etc). If you are concerned, talk to members of your party and if appropriate, consider walking around these areas. If you are thinking about crossing any snow, always ascertain, as far as possible, what risks are involved and only cross if you think it is safe to do so.
- Rock Falls – due to the easily fractured nature of limestone, loose rocks and rock fall are a significant feature of the mountains. Take care when walking near the base of cliffs, and consider taking a climbing helmet if planning a long walk in such areas. Be careful not to dislodge loose rocks yourself, as there may be other people below you. Warn other if you dislodge a rock. In English the usual shouted warning is ‘Below!’, but in Switzerland you should shout ‘Achtung!’.
- Steep, loose paths – many of the waymarked routes in the area include sections of steep, rocky track, often loose under foot. Walking poles are widely recognised as being helpful on such terrain. Check the gradient of any paths you are unsure of using a map and looking at the contour intervals (there is a contour interval of 20 metres on the 1:25,000 scale Mayr maps). If faced with exceptionally steep ground, the general rule to remember is not to go up if you don’t think you can come back down.
- Vertigo – many of the routes in the area include paths that traverse steep sided sections of mountainside. If you suffer from vertigo then sections like this can give you a sense of exposure. Plan your walks carefully.
Based on information published by the Swiss Alpine Club and the British Mountaineering Council – for anyone wishing to take the following emergency notes with them on an itinerary, a printed copy is available:
- Stay calm and do not do anything on impulse.
- Evaluate the situation and identify the actual dangers;
- Take immediate and sensible precautions to prevent further risk;
- Give spare clothing to the injured person and do your best to provide shelter
- All reasonable efforts should be made to cope with the situation without resorting to the rescue services, providing that you do not make any injuries worse than they are already. If self-help is not possible, rescue services should be contacted. Call for 112. The rescue team will need to know where you are and have an idea about the condition of the victim;
- If you do not have a mobile, you would have to use a nearby refugio, or descend to find a landline. Choose a safe route – this might not be the quickest, but the possibility of a second accident must be avoided;
- Mark the casualties’ position on a map and take it along with you. Going for help is a relatively easy decision to make if there are four or more people in the party. At least two can leave to ring for help, leaving one to care for the casualty. If there are only two or three in the group then this becomes a more difficult judgement. In this situation, attracting help from others in the mountains will help;
- To attract attention use the International Distress Signal, using either a light, a whistle or by shouting: six long flashes of a torch/blasts of a whistle/shouts/waves in succession, repeated at one minute intervals. Repeat until replied to. A reply is given 3 times a minute (every 20 seconds) in either a visible or audible manner. If a helicopter is involved, the pilot’s questions can be answered as described on the right;
- If no local help is forthcoming a decision will have to be made to leave the casualty alone or potentially sending somebody on his or her own. To make this decision you would have to consider the injury, the conditions and the capabilities of the other members of the party; and
- As far as the injured are concerned, do for them only those things that you are certain you can do safely.
Emergency Contact – Call 1414
If the operator manning the emergency line does not speak English and you are unable to communicate, please try calling one of our staff and we will relate the information as best we can.
- Call 112 – give your full name.
- Say where you are calling from and let them know your telephone number.
- If the location of the accident (and casualties) is far away, try to memorise some landmarks to help the search party find the group.
- Explain in brief what has happened.
- Give the time of the accident and the exact number of casualties and their relative conditions.
- Give the number of people in the rest of the group still at the accident, and try to remember the colour of their jackets etc. in order to aid finding them.
- Describe the weather conditions and the visibility.
- Do not leave the place from which you are making the call, in case the rescue services have to contact you again.
We keep a firm eye on weather conditions and try to ensure it is safe to proceed with an excursion, but it is everybody’s responsibility to consider the possibility of cancelling an excursion (and voice any anxiety) if worried about the risk of adverse weather conditions.
- Winds increase and temperatures drop at altitude
- Snow and ice are not uncommon at high altitudes, especially in early and late season
- Take plenty of liquid (min. 2-3 litres)
- Protect yourself from the sun with high factor sun cream, sunglasses and a hat
- Plan your route according to the weather
- Plan for worse weather than forecast as the weather can change rapidly
- Always carry clothing for poor weather, even if the day starts fine