Planning walking timesBefore starting a hike, one should have a rough idea about how long a certain part of the walk will take. This is especially important when planning trips of more than one day with a group. It would be a little naive to rely on the times given on signposts - what you find there can easily vary by a factor of 2, depending on the region where you are.
So, how to estimate the time in advance?If there is no technical difficulty (hikes, ski tours, easy pathless terrain) one can estimate the expected walking time based on the horizontal distance and the ascent height.
The total time is simly the sum of the time for the distance and the time for ascending the height difference.
t = t(distance) + t(ascent)
For the distance, usually a speed of about 5 km/h can be used, for the ascent about 400-600 height meters per hour. At higher altitude one should decrease this value, for example to 300-500 m/h above 3000 m, to 250-400 m/h above 4000 m.
t(distance)=distance / (5 km/h)
t(ascent)=height meters / (500 m/h)
This formula gives quite realistic times for me personally, already including smaller stops. If you are very fast or underway with a large group, you will have to modify the parameters up or down correspondingly. After a couple of trips you probably have found "your" values and then you can apply the procedure further on.
For the descent on foot, you can simply take the distance. Ski descents, however, are usually much faster than on foot; I normally use about 10 km/h for the distance and no consideration of the descent height difference. But often one can simply use 1 hour for the ski descent.
ExampleAscent to Fridolinshütte, Glarneralpen, Switzerland:
Distance 8 km, height difference 1300 meters
Time: t = 8/5 h + 1300/500 h = 4.2 h
From Fridolinshütte to the summit of Tödi:
Distance 5.5 km, height difference 1500 meters, ascent rate reduced to 350 m/h due to altitude
Time: t = 5.5/5 h + 1500/350 h = 5.$ h
Remark about the formula used by the German Alpine ClubIn the tour leader courses of DAV, a slightly modified formula is used: take the time for the distance and the time for the ascent, and add the bigger one and only half of the smaller one. It is easy to see that this formula gives different results if you split a given hike in different ways. Therefore I always use the formula given above and I am always on the safe side.
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