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The summer season is already in full swing, as mountain lovers venture into the mountains in greater numbers. Unfortunately, this also brings about a higher number of accidents and mountain rescues.

Most accidents occur because hikers are ill prepared, overestimate their abilities, or are poorly informed about the conditions and the terrain, which is particularly true for foreigners who come to Slovenian mountains. We therefore urge all hikers to approach the mountains with a high degree of caution and be mindful of each step. We also urge tourism professionals to warn the hikers about the challenging nature of the Slovenian mountains and encourage them to seek appropriate information before setting off. Unreasonable and poorly planned mountain hikes can take a tragic turn for the worst.

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Hiking accidents on a constant rise: equip yourself with adequate gear and information!

Yesterday, the police helicopter crew and the on-duty mountain rescue team rescued a Slovenian mountain hiker on the top of the western ridge of Mt Storžič, who injured himself as he slipped and fell off the trail. The location of the accident was covered in clouds and therefore difficult for the helicopter to access, forcing the police helicopter crew to make three flights to bring the mountain rescuers and their equipment to the altitude of 1,600m from where they walked to the injured mountaineer on foot. By early evening, the rescue team managed to carry the injured down a dangerous terrain and beneath the fog strip, from where he was lifted into the helicopter and flown to hospital. The police helicopter crew then flew back to Mt Storžič to pick up the rescuers. The injured hiker had adequate mountaineering equipment.

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This was the third accident in recent days on Mt Storžič, where two accidents happened last Saturday alone. One involved a mountain hiker, who had set out early in the morning to climb the mountain across Žrelo. She injured herself as she slipped and fell on a wet rock. She was intercepted and most likely saved from the worst by another mountaineer on a very dangerous section of the rocky terrain. She was a Slovenian citizen. The second accident happened in the afternoon and involved an exhausted German hiker on Mt Storžič. The helicopter unit of the Slovenian Army and the rescue teams of the Mountain Rescue Association of Slovenia carried out both rescue operations.

Many mountaineers wrongly believe that mountains are safer in the summer because the weather is nice in general. This year, we are witnessing many summer storms and very changeable weather and mountain trails are often wet and slippery, causing falls, slips and injuries, which can also occur in dry weather. Injuries and accidents are most commonly caused by breakage and falling of rocks, exhaustion and illness as well as poor knowledge of the mountain terrain. We urge the hikers to take maximum care and exercise maximum caution. It only takes one wrong step or move for a mountain hike to turn into a tragedy. In addition to careful and thoughtful planning, adequate equipment (especially footwear – do not hike in flip-flops, sandals or sneakers) and good level of fitness, the weather conditions too must be taken into account when setting off on a mountain hike.

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