There are only 3 sports: bullfighting, motor racing and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.
- Ernest Hemingway
Mountaineering is the original way for an individual to experieince high adventure. It still is the best way.
Mountaineering = Trekking + Alipine Expeditions + Rock Climbing + Ice Climbing
Peaks to Climb
The more I go into the mountains, the more I want to go into the mountains. It seems the list of peaks I want to bag just keep growing and growing.
- Little Guys
- Mt Fuji, Japan
- Big Guys
- Mt Kenya, Africa
- Grand Tetons, Wyoming
- Aconcagua, Argentina
- Orizaba, Mexico
- Mt Ranier, Washington
- Mt Hood, Oregon
- Cotopaxi, Ecuador
- Chimborazo, Ecuador
- Big Cold Scary Guys
- Denali, Alaska
Guides & Schools
- Freedom of the Hills
- Glacier Mountaineering
- Appalachian Mountain Club
- American Alpine Club
Mountaineering is a rigorous sport that requires an equally rigorous pre-Climb tune-up. In order to ensure a fun and safe Climb, the Mountaineer should undergo trainings and preparations to condition one’s body and mindset. Train specifically for the physical activity you will face in Mountaineering, since other extreme sports or gym exercises may be different when you’re already carrying a heavy backpack while Climbing up the jagged hill.
Physical conditioning may sound very demanding, but this will help you much in your mountain Climbing. Keep in mind your motivations for engaging in this sport, and make your own body workout an enjoyable experience. Make progress at your own pace, and do not put too much pressure on yourself! Start on one training procedure after the other to see improvements on your performance.
Here are some guidelines to get you in tiptop shape suitable for the Climb:
- Your primary concern before anything else should be your own physical condition. Have you gone to your doctor recently? Have a medical check up to know your current health condition, and minimize potential problems when you’re already doing strenuous exercises or Climbing the rough terrains.
- Know your strengths as well as your weaknesses, and work out on improving them. Your personal training routine will depend on what you would want to workout on and what your specific goals are.
- Take some time to stretch. Stretching exercises to relax muscle tensions should be done prior to your regular trainings and before the Climb itself. This activity would make your muscles flexible, and thus prevent strains and injuries.
- Learn some breathing exercises. An important aspect in Climbing or in any physical activity is knowing how to breathe properly, so as not to lose your breath and get tired easily. Train your body to breath efficiently, and increase your capacity.
- Workout on your cardiovascular stamina. Mountain Climbers should always be on the go. Try different physical activities that would keep you going and test your endurance. Walk, run, bike, walk up and down the stairs, or engage in sports. These variety of activities will strengthen your muscles, and develop strong legs suitable for the Climb.
- For your upper-body strength, do regular push-ups and sit-ups. An overall fitness program is necessary to Mountaineering. Work on your upper back, lower back and abdominal muscles.
- Mountaineering involves a lot of Climbing, especially in irregular slopes and rough terrains. Develop your Climbing skills by engaging on activities such as rappelling, wall Climbing, Rock Climbing or Hiking.
- As part of your technical training, get used to Climbing with a heavy load on your back. Do not settle with Climbing up and down the stairs. As you progress, carry a backpack while doing the exercise. The actual Mountaineering activity requires you to carry a pack as you tread a rough trail. Challenge yourself as you go further by taking on difficult hikes and adding up your load.
- Furthermore, get used to walking on rough terrains and rugged pathways. A mountain’s trail is not flat and smooth. Try trekking on rocky roads or a nearby place with grounds that are not yet asphalted. This will make your movement in mountains more efficient.
- Lastly, anticipate difficulty. Increasing the level of your exercise to develop your body condition and endurance. Challenge yourself, this will greatly prepare to the difficulties on your actual adventure.
Mountaineering requires strengthening of body and developing on specialized skills. The tips above will help your body adjust to be suitable on the challenges of Climbing. After gearing up on the essential skills and body fitness, complete your equipment list and make sure you have everything important with you. Read the Mountaineering Gear and Apparel section and learn more on basic Mountaineering gear.
Rules and Etiquette
Like in any sport, Mountaineering requires you to follow certain rules and regulations. These set of rules are very basic that anyone can do it, but some just tend to forget to follow them. Here are some of the basic rules you should keep in mind in order to make your trip fun while avoiding being destructive to anyone or to the environment.
- Before anything else, make sure you are fit to Climb. Mountaineering when you are out of shape and healthy condition will increase the possibility of injuries and accidents. This sport requires proper training and a focused mindset. Getting into trouble during the Climb might also get in the way of your fellow Mountaineers’ chance to enjoy the activity.
- Mountaineering does not only require skills, but also specific equipment and apparel. Make sure that you have all the necessary equipment with you, and bring enough food and drinks for the Climb.
- Mountain Climbing is more of a team sport. Avoid Climbing alone, as you’ll have no one to help you when the need arises. Moreover, some of the technical skills of Climbing like belaying or leading will need more than one person to carry out.
- Be informed of your destination. Do not Climb a mountain you haven’t researched about. You can either join an expedition team that knows a lot about the mountain that you wish to Climb, or equip yourself with the latest trail map.
- Inform someone of your Climb so that he or she will know where to find you if you seem to take too much time Climbing.
- Preserve the environment’s beauty for other people to enjoy. Do not leave anything or take anything from the mountain.
- Use environment-friendly products such as soap and detergent. Do not damage and pollute the water source.
- Always obey your team leader. Follow his commands and do not stray away from the group. Trailing off may cause harm to nature, and will probably increase your chance of getting lost.
- Never Climb beyond your ability. Know when you have to turn back. Use your best judgment. Many Climbers have lost their lives because they decided to go on Climbing even if the odds were already against them.
Following the rules and etiquette above, you will not only give others the chance to experience the pristine environment of the outdoors, you are also ensured of having a beautiful place to go back to in the future. That makes you a sure-winner in this sport!
Climbing trips can be very exhausting so you need to replenish the lost energy by taking in fluids and Food. While you can obtain water from various sources in the outdoors, Food, on the other hand, can be hard to come by. You should therefore take an ample supply of Food with you. This section will deal with the various considerations when bringing your Climbing Food.
First, there are the typical freeze-dried Food which are especially made for climbers. These packages are easy to carry and can supply you with the right amount of Food to last you a day with enough calories and vitamins. However, these packages are quite expensive and they may not be suited to your taste as well.
Alternatively, you can also prepare your own Food with ingredients that you can get from local supermarkets. They include dry soups, dry potatoes, pudding mixes, dried milk, instant hot cereal, instant rice, dried fruits, dried meat, pasta, and processed cheese.
Many vegetables are also cheap, easy to find in the local markets, nutritious, quick cooking (if you chop them up small enough), and long-lasting. Soft fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, bananas, or avocadoes) have a much shorter life span so you should avoid bringing them as much as possible. If you do bring them, you should carry them very carefully.
When Climbing, it is always better to carry as much fresh Food (fruit and vegetables) as possible and to cut down on tins and packets. This could save weight and reduces the amount of rubbish you need to bring down. The key here is to pack as much food and as lightly as you can.
Finally, remember that when you are above 4000 metres, water will boil at a lower temperature. This means that your Food would take more time to cook. Therefore, do not bring lentils, beans, or rice as it would take too much fuel to cook them. Pasta is a better alternative.
In sum, there are only three things to consider when deciding on what Climbing Food to bring. They should be easy to carry, easy to dispose of at a later time and can be easily cooked. Keep them in mind before you go to your next climbing trip. They can save a lot of time and load.
Aside from being responsible for your team's safety, it is also your responsibility as a Mountaineer to keep you surroundings Clean. That does not only refer to where you set up camp but also to anywhere you set foot on. Keeping them Clean will ensure that others who will take the same path will be able to appreciate the beautiful and pristine surroundings that you have seen yourself. Here are some ways by which you can help in Cleaning up when you are in the mountains.
Everything must be carried off the mountain. Each person must make a strong personal commitment to remove all of his or her garbage, excess food, fixed lines, and all other equipment. Sleds or haul bags make excellent descent towing bags, allowing an additional 20-30kg to be taken out. Keep litter dry by consolidating it in plastic bags or waterproof stuff sacks.
Temporary caches should be buried under large snow blocks at a minimum of 1 meter deep. When relaying loads, be careful to bury your food caches to protect them from ravens. Mark the cache with long wands, 1.5-2 meters above the surface. Clearly mark the cache with the name of your expedition and expected date of return. This will prevent other climbers from thinking the cache was abandoned.
At lower altitudes, animals like wolves and bears have been known to destroy caches near the edge of glaciers. Secure these caches in three layers of garbage bags so no scent is emitted. At higher altitudes, high winds often scour the snow, exposing caches.
Human Waste and Sanitation
Intestinal disorders, vomiting, and diarrhea may result from contamination of your food or drinking water caused by human waste. The resulting dehydration can become a serious problem at high altitudes. All drinking water are obtained from melted snow in this situation. Therefore, precaution must be taken into consideration when gathering snow from well-used camps. Traveling out a rope length away from older tent platforms will generally suffice. Conditions become worse as the season progresses and improperly deposited waste melts out. For the health and safety of everyone in your team, it is imperative for everyone to follow these simple steps:
Use pit latrines where they are provided. At other locations:
- Dig a shallow hole in the snow or use a plastic bucket.
- Line the hole or bucket with a biodegradable sack.
- Stake the corners of the bag open with wands and use a snow block to cover the top when not in use. A little attention to prevent overfilling will make the process of disposal much easier.
- Use this bag as the latrine for all members of the expedition while at camp.
- Develop a separate urinal spot and mark with a wand.
- When you move camp or the bag fills, simply tie it off and toss it into a deep crevasse. If no crevasses are available, the bag should be carried until a suitable crevasse is found. The wastes are usually frozen and will ride well on a sled. On steep technical routes, the bag can be tossed away from the climbing route or feces can be deposited on snow blocks and shoveled off the route.
- Please note that only human waste should be thrown in the crevasse. All other trash must be carried off down the mountain.
Planning an Expedition
Mountaineering is a fun and rewarding activity that lets one enjoy the splendor of Mother Nature. But you can’t just go out and start moving in an instant. You need to prepare yourself for the journey ahead. As much as it is enjoyable, Mountaineering can be dangerous as well. Here are some guidelines for Planning a Mountaineering Trip or Expedition:
- Know the area. As much as possible, do a pre-Hike or survey of the Mountain so that you’ll have an idea of how hard the Hike is and how long it will be. It’s also a good idea to ask people who have previously Climbed the said Mountain for tips and advice.
- Take a guide with you. If possible, have someone who knows the area or trail to go with you during your expedition. At least there will be someone to help you in case you get lost.
- Know the weather. Weather depends much on the time of the year. But most experienced Mountaineers will tell you to always expect the unexpected because weather is quite unpredictable. One minute it’s bright and sunny, a few minutes later the rain is pouring. So it is important to consider the next item.
- Bring all the necessary equipment. These include food, drinking water, a jacket, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, and extra clothing. Like some people say that when you’re out on an Expedition, you’re at the mercy of the weather. So you must prepare yourself for everything that can happen.
- Waterproof your bags or packs. This is done by putting your things in a plastic bag before putting them inside your bag. That way, if it rains and your bag is not made of waterproof material, the water won’t get through to your stuff. There’s nothing as frustrating as getting your clothes and electronic equipment (like cell phones and cameras) wet by an unexpected rainfall.
- Wear proper Mountaineering apparel. Proper clothing will keep you warm in high altitudes and will allow you more freedom of movement as well. For more information on Mountaineering clothing and footwear, check out our Mountaineering Gear List .
- Prepare yourself physically. Jog and do other physical exercises before going on your expedition. This will help prevent cramps and other injuries. It is best to do these exercises about two weeks before the big day. You can also Climb other lower and more accessible Mountains as part of your physical training
- Prepare yourself mentally. You must have a mindset that is prepared for any hardships that you might encounter along the way as well as committed to your goal. You have to be positive, but not overconfident. Just think that you can do anything if you put your 100% into it.
Some may say that Mountaineering is not for everyone and maybe they’re right. But if you work hard to prepare yourself both physically and mentally, as well as equip yourself properly, among other things to consider when Planning an Expedition, then you just might be up for the challenge. You can take pleasure even in a very strenuous activity such as Mountaineering if you are completely prepared for it.
How about climbing rivers, for a change? Enormous frozen rivers, or glaciers, that is. If you’re up for Glacier Mountaineering, read on.
Before anything else, having the right equipment is basic to climbing. Trekking on ice and climbing on ice walls require special equipment distinct from those used in rock climbing.
Be sure to be warmed enough by your clothing; the cold can be unforgiving. The neck area and the backbone generate much of your body heat so be watchful in keeping those areas warm. The head and the hands are next in generating the most amount of body heat so mind that these body parts are kept warm. Wool and polypropylene, among other materials, are good insulators that preserve body heat. So basic clothing list for Glacier Mountaineering will include the following:
- wool shirt and/or light sweater
- rain jacket
- light gloves
- bandana or scarf
- ice axe
- trekking poles
The outdoors, aside from being a wonderful place to explore and have adventures, is also home to wild flora and fauna. In fact, a climb in the mountains can be an intrusion if not handled properly. It is very important to keep the environment you travel in as intact as possible - manage your waste, avoid trampling on plants, and leave no trace behind as much as possible.
These are the dangers you may pose to the wild environment you visit. But it is also necessary to keep in mind that this environment, being wild, can also pose dangers for you and your company. Not least among these dangers are wild animals. Black and grizzly bears and mountain lions are very dangerous. Even deer can turn aggressive and dangerous when surprised or threatened.
Here are some tips on how to walk away unharmed when you encounter wild animals:
- Do not feed wildlife.
- Do not approach animals to take photographs.
- Do not make any abrupt moves or noises that may startle them. Never approach bears!
- Do not directly meet its eyes. Act as passively as possible, diverting your eyes and head down or to the sides.
- Stay calm. Do not threaten it and do not show your fear.
- Talk calmly, avert your gaze, stand tall and slowly back away.
- Attempt to appear as large as possible.
- If an attack seems imminent, act aggressively.
A rule of thumb: act passively when you encounter a bear. Act aggressively when you encounter a mountain lion.
With all these precautions in mind, you can look forward to an exhilarating adventure in the glaciers. Glaciers provide yet another venue for people to challenge themselves and transcend limits. Says a 19th century mountaineer, "the thing to be wished for is, not that mountains should become easier, but that men [and women] should become wiser and stronger."
Winter Mountaineering can range from the simple exercises of Hiking or Trekking to the harder task of Ice Climbing. Mountaineering during this time of the year is generally a more arduous task since temperatures are way lower, and the snow makes Trekking much harder. Those who wish to become an effective winter Mountaineer must at least have basic skills in using ice axes and crampons, a good knowledge of knots and ropework, and advanced navigation skills.
Winter Mountaineering is more dangerous as well. Because of the low temperatures, the risk of suffering from medical conditions like hypothermia is increased. And on snow-covered Mountains, Mountaineers are more susceptible to Mountaineering hazards like ice and snow slopes and even crevasses.
But for some people, winter Mountaineering has a certain charm to it that keeps them going back for more. It’s probably because of the majestic view of the winter scenery that one gets from the peak of a Mountain. Or because there are fewer people who Climb during winter, which means a smaller crowd to deal with and a bigger area to enjoy. Whatever the reason is, there are still things to take pleasure in from winter Mountaineering. But because of the different risks involved here, there are certain equipment that you need to have, as well as some apparel that you need to wear.
- Crampons – these are a set of metal spikes that are attached to the sole of your snow boots. Crampons help you get more traction on the snow.
- Ice Axes – these are pickaxe-like tools that are used to aid in Climbing and also function like walking sticks. Ice axes are important for performing a self-arrest during a crevasse rescue.
- Harnesses – these are worn by Climbers to secure themselves to a rope when Climbing steep slopes or walls. Harnesses are important in Ice Climbing because it safeguards the Climber against falls.
- Winter Sleeping Bags and Tents – these are essential in preventing hypothermia. Some serious injuries have occurred in the past because Mountaineers failed to bring winter sleeping bags and tents.
- Alpine Backpacks – these are backpacks specially designed for winter conditions. They come in small daypacks and larger expedition packs to suit your Mountaineering needs.
- Map and Compass – these, obviously, are used for navigation purposes. Always keep your map in a waterproof case. As for the compass, you may need to practice using it before Hiking.
- Shovel – you will need this for avalanche rescues. Since avalanches are pretty much unpredictable, it’s a good idea to always bring a shovel all the time to make rescues faster.
- Whistle – use this to alert your fellow Mountaineers in case of an emergency or if you get lost.
- Ample food and water – you definitely need these.
- First-aid kit – this is just about as important as the food and water. Always remember to bring one.
- Waterproof Jacket and Pants – you need waterproof clothes because getting your skin wet will take you closer to hypothermia. Do not wear cotton.
- Thick Wool Socks with Polypropylene Liner Socks – these will keep your feet warm and as dry as possible.
- Snow Boots – these will provide your feet with adequate support and water resistance for snowy terrain.
- Hat, Scarf and MIttens or Gloves – again, these are items that will keep you warm. For harsher weather conditions, balaclavas and waterproof gloves are recommended.
- Sunglasses – because the snow can be very bright under the sunlight.
Turning Around From a Summit Bid