Practical stuff

If you're thinking of going walking in Alpine countries, here's some practical detail to help get you started.

Insurance

None of the Alpine countries have free mountain rescue, and the cost of extracting you from the mountains and subsequent medical treatment can be very high. Fortunately, there are several excellent insurance companies catering to hikers, e.g. the BMC and Snowcard.

The Club Alpin Francais and the Austrian Alpine Club both offer good value rescue and medical insurance, as does the French outdoor shop Au Vieux Campeur.

If you normally reside in the UK, carry a European Health Insurance card (EHIC).

The EHIC can be used to cover any necessary medical treatment due to either an accident or illness within all the Alpine countries including Switzerland. The card entitles the holder to state-provided medical treatment within the country they are visiting and the service provided will be the same as received by a person covered by the country's 'insured' medical scheme. This may not cover all of the services you would expect within the UK and you may have to make a contribution towards the care you receive. An EHIC does not cover you for all medical costs - you still need insurance.