Colorado’s weather can change in an instant and the ability to quickly find shelter in the backcountry is crucial to survival.
An unexpected change in weather over Ridgeway State Park. Photo by Nick Clement/CPW
A great option for an emergency shelter is a brightly colored 4mm thick trash bag. The bags are affordable, easy to transport and provide a durable and effective shelter. Read more
Rapidly changing weather above French Pass. Photo by Dennis Mckinney/CPW
Changes in weather may come at any time, especially in the high country. In the event of an unexpected change in weather, the only shelter you can truly count on is your clothing. And your clothing’s ability to keep you warm may be the difference between life and death. Read more
Water purification tablets. Photo by Nick Clement/CPW.
Dehydration is one of the greatest threats to hunters, hikers and outdoor recreationists. Each year, hundreds of people face potentially life-threatening situations in the outdoors simply because they didn’t bring enough water with them. In this Colorado Outdoors Survival Series, we’ll discuss the best methods for purifying water and offer tips on how to stay properly hydrated in Colorado’s backcountry.
Click HERE to visit the previous chapter in this series.
CPW Photo by Nick Clement
Colorado’s backcountry and rugged terrain can confuse and disorient even the most experienced outdoorsman. Therefore, it’s important to know how to use a map and compass to avoid getting lost when venturing into remote areas. In this chapter of Colorado Outdoors‘ Survival Series, you will learn how to navigate your way to safety in any situation. To view the previous chapter in this series, click HERE.
If you happen to find yourself lost in Colorado’s backcountry, panic is a normal reaction. I have found myself lost while exploring new areas and that initial rush of adrenaline from the panic can be intense.
Using the STOP acronym can help immensely.
- S – SIT for 30 minutes and drink water
- T – THINK and evaluate your threats
- O – OBSERVE your surroundings and take in options
- P – PLAN then implement that plan
In this fourth chapter and video, we explore the steps necessary to your survival in case you find yourself lost. These steps allow the chemicals in your body to subside, ensuring a rational thought process. Click HERE to go to the previous chapter in this series. To view the next chapter, click HERE.
The most important thing to remember is that your survival kit is NO GOOD unless it is with you. When I venture more than 200 feet from the truck, trailhead or camp I always make sure I have my survival kit.
Photo by Nick Clement/CPW.
This small kit includes those things that will enable you to survive an unforeseen situation. Your kit should contain the tools necessary to build a fire, provide shelter, signal for help and stay hydrated:
- FIRE – metal match and Vaseline-soaked cotton balls
- SHELTER – 4mm-thick bag, 8×10 tarp
- SIGNAL – whistle, mirror, orange flagging tape
- HYDRATION – chlorine tablets
In this third chapter and video, we will take a closer look at the essential items to stock in your survival kit. Click HERE to go to the previous chapter in this series. Click HERE to go to Chapter 4 .
To understand outdoor survival, it is crucial to be aware of what hazards are present. Although the Rocky Mountains are generally a very safe place to recreate, the key is being able to identify potential threats and practice the skills needed to endure those threats. The following are the top risks to look out for and, more importantly, prepare for:
Lightning: Lighting can be common in the Rocky Mountains anytime of the year. If you are at high elevations in the summer, lightning storms can appear out of nowhere. Here are a few basic tips:
- Don’t be connected to the tallest object in the area. Reduce your exposure by moving to a lower altitude. If you are at timberline, move to the treeline and stay there until the storm passes.
- Keep your feet close together with the least amount of contact to ground and get in a tight ball.
- Metal on your body does not increase attraction, but it will burn you if you are struck by lightning.
- Fishermen should get off the water and into a car as quickly as possible.
Thunderstorms can develop quickly, especially in alpine areas. I have been caught in numerous thunderstorms while hunting and fishing in Colorado’s high country. I always assume I can never be too safe. If I hear roaring thunder approaching, I always move to a lower elevation as soon as possible.
CPW photo by Nick Clement
Altitude: Climbing in altitude without proper preparation may lead to becoming hypoxic. Hypoxic is when your brain and body do not function properly due to lack of oxygen. Preventing oxygen deprivation is a lot easier than coping with it after the fact. Here are some general tips to avoid hypoxia: Read more
Peter Kummerfeldt has been teaching outdoor survival nearly his entire life. His approach is practical and proven. Colorado Parks and Wildlife partnered with Peter in the production of a 10-chapter outdoor survival series. As an avid outdoorsmen and survival enthusiast, I was fortunate to produce the project. I learned a number of skills and knowledge that have helped me immensely.
With 22 million acres of public lands, Colorado has endless opportunities to recreate far off the beaten path.
CPW photo by Nick Clement
A common misconception is “I will never get lost” or “I would know how to survive because I watch all the survival shows.” The reality is that Colorado’s backcountry can overwhelm you. Weather can change immediately and one misinterpretation of a map or taking the wrong trail can lead you to being completely lost and left outside overnight with no water, shelter or fire.
The first key to eliminating this chance is to define and clearly understand survival. Survival is the ability and desire to stay alive in an unforeseen situation. Ability means skills and knowledge, while desire is not only wanting to acquire those skills and knowledge but also the will to implement them in case you find yourself in a dangerous predicament. Read more