How to start Mountaineering

Aig du Moine South Ridge

Looking at mountains, you wish you were standing on top of that peak looking down, instead of the other way around. You are one of those people yearning to experience these remote places where you are exposed to the laws of nature. You are probably an adventurous person who likes to feel the joy and satisfaction of reaching higher than you thought you could.
Here are a few tips for you on how to get started with climbing mountains.

Mountaineering is all about getting to know the mountains while getting to know your self. It takes time and the only way to get better at climbing and mountaineering is to get out there. Starting either together with friends, going with experienced groups or by doing an alpine climbing / mountaineering course with a certified mountain guide.

Liskamm Cresta Sella

If you are a group of inexperienced friends trying to learn on your own, you should make sure that you step up slowly and carefully plan every climb before you go.

Gather all the information you can about your object climb. For example; when are the conditions the best? Which route is the technically easiest and safest one up there? How does the weather change in this area? What gear do I need to bring? What skills do I need to have? And always be sure what to do in case of an accident, such as knowing the direct number for the local rescue and be equipped for first aid.

Learn and practice the skills you need in safe environments before you attempt your climb. You might need to be confident in walking with crampons and using an ice axe. If crossing glaciers you should for example know how to avoid crevasses, how to walk roped up and master some basic crevasse rescue techniques. A good theoretical source for all climbing and mountaineering techniques is the mountaineering bible: Freedom of the Hills.

Pointe Lachenal

Get proper acclimatization by doing exercise in altitude if your object is a longer climb above 2000m. Go on one-day hikes, climbs or ski tours above 2000m and proceed to spending a night in altitude. This is the best way to get fit for high alpine adventures!

Getting introduced to mountaineering by doing an alpine climbing course with a private UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guide is a faster way to get started. This is a common thing to do in the Alps and you will practice what you learn by actually climbing nice routes in the high mountains.

Taking a course will make you progress, starting from the level you are at. It will also equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to continue on your own. The difference between a course and just doing guided climbs is that you will learn how to make your own decisions in the mountains and how to plan your own expeditions.

Aiguilles RougesThink about your goals and communicate to your guide what skills you are looking to pick up. Do you want to progress in climbing technical rock, glaciated mountains, ice and mixed climbing or just walk-ups? On a typical alpine intro course you will try a bit of everything and get a feeling for what you like the most.

Whether with a guide or on your own, start to climb in summer time and move on to winter climbs once you have built up good systems for climbing in summer conditions. Complement your mountaineering skills with a bit of traditional rock climbing. It is a good way to learn the basic knots, belaying, getting used to heights, and getting the climbing skills and strength for more technical alpine climbs.

Gaining the experience you need to become a good mountaineer takes a lot of time, so just make sure that you spend as much time as possible in the mountains.

Categories: Mountaineering and Sharing Knowledge.

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