What is there to know for Mountaineering? One of the most beautiful feelings for all involved in hiking or mountain climbing, is the freedom feeling. That is the freedom that comes while moving from one mountain top to another.
For many amateur climbers that kind of experience happens mostly during summer or autumn months. The -so called- easier to hike months. Yet, what happens with the remaining 6 months of a year?
How climbers satisfy their thirst for climbing higher? Sure, there are always higher (still easier) summits to trek through, but isn’t that just a mediocre thing? Such cannot offer the deep satisfaction; the one to climb the mountain tops, during winter.
Of course, mountaineering is not a game. It is not as simple as hiking or trekking. There are days where you encounter such a bad weather or so rough conditions that you may not be able to get out of the summit.
On top of all these, there is snow and ice that make things far more difficult. But, you have to taste the experience of mountaineering.
You will acquire new skills for that and along will come new thrills. Who knows… maybe then you will start looking around for mountains where snow is always there calling you.
How to get into Mountaineering?
Best way for beginners to learn mountaineering? Find a mentor and a school.
It is very important to find a person who really knows their way around mountaineering. That person needs to come with lots of experience and will be your climbing partner. You will get good advice from them and they maybe save your life when you get cocky!
Where to find such a person? That is relatively easy. Experienced climbers are not unknown and if you look into the climbing sector you will find one. The easiest way to find a few is to join a climbing school that is about mountaineering and not just hiking.
Such a school will have more than one persons that are experienced in this and you can find your climbing partner and a friend there. Some times such a “mentor” may choose you and not vice versa.
Train for Danger
You need to learn quite a few things in order to be able to estimate different situations. Evaluating the possibilities of an avalanche, or being able to “read” the terrain and snow is one of the skills to develop.
Knowing how to understand the dangers and traps that lay under snow or ice is fundamental. Make sure you are trained in such (theory and practice) and mark it as a prerequisite prior beginning your mountaineering endeavors.
You need to be able to “read” the weather and predict the upcoming conditions, along your designated route. That is additionally important on multi-day mountaineering missions.
Don’t go for Mount Everest from the beginning. Experienced climbers say that you need to build up your experience and knowledge. Thus, pick easy targets at first.
Choose a route you can climb without a rope first. I can be in summer time too. That same route will be an absolutely different challenge in winter with all the snow and ice.
What are the Mountaineering Equipment Essentials?
No need to say that being dry and warm is absolutely crucial. Apart from the fun you need to be safe. A basic clothing set consists of:
- Warm Socks
- Long Sleeve Thermal Shirt
- Insulation Fleece
- A Soft-Shell or Hard-Shell pair of pants (depends on conditions)
- A Hard-Shell Jacket or even a Parka
You also need:
- A hiking hat
- A neck gaiter (buff) to protect you from cold air
- Suncream, as sun reflects on snow and you can get sunburns
The Importance of Insulated Gloves
Tip: Have more than 1 pair of gloves with you. In case of rainfall you will need backups. Your hands must be kept wet all the time. Carry 1 or 2 pairs of thin ones and 1-2 pairs of thicker ones. A combination of these with waterproof gloves is better, though your hands will get moist from sweating.
Read this detailed post for hiking gloves.
Mountaineering Climbing Gear
You can’t avoid investing on good, reliable, durable gear. Avoid any cheap solutions when it comes to mountaineering.
A good tactic -if you don’t have the budget all at once- is to gradually acquire the gear you need. In that way you will get familiar with all and won’t break the bank in one day. Sometimes you need to test some gear and make sure it fits for you.
Not sure if mountaineering is for you? You can still borrow all the gear you need, from friends or from outlets that provide such.
If you are new in mountaineering then this is the Best Mountaineering Gear you need:
- A 45lt backpack for a single day trip
- Climbing harness
- Climbing rope
- Mountaineering boots (they are less bendy than the hiking ones)
- Ice axe
- Climbing Helmet
- Trekking poles
- Avalanche Snow Shovel
- Avalanche Beacon
- Insulated water bottle
- Map and Compass
- Climbing particulars (belays, carabiners, etc)
- Bivy gear
- First Aid Kit
- Trash bags
A really good 4-seasons tent for multi day trips is needed. Many who climb high carry a tent and all the tent gear, as you never really know what you may encounter. Weather conditions can change fast on a mountain.
Study weather carefully. You may need to pack a sleeping bag, pad and all.
Gear changes a lot when you plan for multi-day climbing; even your backpack will be different.
Eating and Drinking while Mountaineering
Do prepare you food portions carefully for cold weather. When you climb under such temperatures, have warm liquids like hot chocolate, tea, soup and warm water. It will help you keep your body warm.
Make a note that under such conditions your body will need far more calories to sustain its levels of energy. You need food with high calories and bit fatty, easy to consume. You can always carry some snacks or candy.
Do remember that food and snacks high in sugar will raise your energy fast but it will also drop fast. Proper nutrition is important, especially in multi day trips.
Do not neglect your water consumption. Cold weather gives the false impression that you are not thirsty but that is false. You need to consume water every 30 minutes, otherwise you will get dehydrated.
Remember! Start small and easy, exploring what you like best. Find the right opportunities to build up skills like ice-climbing or mountain skiing.
The most important thing is to get out there and enjoy winter along with the snow and all the nice things that season has.