Don’t get me wrong, the mountains are lovely. And from a purely tactical standpoint they present one of the best possible locations for your bug out. They’re inhospitable, they’re difficult to pass, and the natural formations give you all sorts of wonderful advantages against an attacking force. You’ll likely have the high ground, and an ample view of anything coming your way, while being shielded from anyone circling around.
But the mountains are not without their own dangers. Dangers that many people are not quite ready to face unless you’ve put a significant amount of effort into your plans. So pay attention, and learn what it’s really going to be like bugging out in the mountains, and what you can do to set your family up to survive when it really is your only option.
Every step will be a challenge
Gazing up at the mountains yourself, it’s easy to understand what I mean. Even if you’re following the paths, the way ahead of you will be steep, with crumbling and uneven terrain underfoot. You might walk a mile on flat ground in 10-15 minutes, but in the mountains this same distance could take you an hour or more. Which means you’ll be burning more calories too. You need to be fit if the mountains are in your plans.
The weather works against you
Despite a nice forecast, the weather in the mountains can quickly switch to the extremes and temperatures will rapidly fall once the sun sets. Some ranges will have snow year-round, while there are many more that seem wonderful during the day only for the late afternoon winds to pick up and give you a miserable night. You’ll need the appropriate gear to survive these changes in conditions, and always ensure you have a suitable camp.
Food and supplies aren’t there
Of course, there is a certain level of abundance in every environment. But generally, there’s far less available resources the higher you get in a mountain range. That means you need to plan ahead, knowing exactly what you can and can’t eat at your location, and stockpiling all the other necessities your family needs to survive. You can’t hope to scavenge and hunt for what you need in the mountains, you need to get these sorted in advance.
Mountain air can be thin
There’s a reason that hikers carry oxygen tanks as they ascent Mount Everest, and it’s because the higher you go the thinner the air gets. Or in other words, there’s less oxygen for you to breathe, and your body will work even harder to get what it needs to survive. It takes time to acclimatize, which you may not have in a SHTF event. And ignoring altitude sickness can result in lightheadedness and fainting, and injuring yourself with a fall or a stumble.
You can defend with ease
Because of the height advantage a mountain offers, anyone who is on your tail will be facing the same arduous path that you climbed earlier. So if you’ve holed up in a position, not only will you be attacking from the high ground, you’ll also be facing opponents who are exhausted from the climb. You’ll also only have a few key routes up the mountain to defend, which makes it perfect if you’ve got a smaller party and you’re being followed.
You won’t see many people
Thanks to all the challenging terrain and lack of resources, you’ll actually find that other people living in the mountains are very few and far between. But please be careful of the people you do come across. Unless you know them and they’re part of your group, you need to remember that you are incredibly isolated, and if something goes sideways help could be very far away. In the mountains, you’re going to want to avoid other people too.
Do your dry runs
Much like any part of your survival plans, it’s important you have real experience on the mountain, so you’re not caught out by surprise when you’re actually on your bug out. Think about game trails and routes up, the different weather and seasons, as well as anything that you can hunt, scavenge or forage. It takes time to gather this kind of intelligence, and it’s something you can only learn with your boots on the ground. So get your practice in.
Get your shelter sorted
It might just be a simple tent, or you may want to build a more permanent structure if there’s a particular area you call home. But you need a shelter, especially in winter when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Exposure is a real killer, and there’s no place more exposed than the side of a mountain when a storm is ranging. Plan ahead, and either bring what you need, or know exactly where you’re going to get shelter on the mountain.
Practice long-range firearms
Finally, and this should come as no surprise, but a long-range rifle will be one of your best assets in the mountains. More than just hunting the game you need to survive, being a good shot will serve you well in defending against anyone coming after you. Add a high-quality optical scope, and you’ll be a deadly presence in the mountains, one that even the most aggressive attackers will be unwilling to approach without suffering the consequences. Just remember to get your target practice in.
Bugging out to the mountains is a part of your planning that needs to be done right. At the surface level it always sounds fine, but the details are what matters most. You need to understand the conditions, the supplies, and the approach you need to take towards survival if you want to have any hope of a successful bug out.