Getting Started With Climbing

Profile of a mountain climber

A mountain climber must be in excellent physical condition as well as agile. The mountain climber must have an attitude of determination to overcome every obstacle, focused and positive, as well as the predisposition to mind and master safety procedures.

Getting Ready

The best way to prepare is by reading books on climbing. This will help give the mindset you need to climb a mountain. Climbers learn how to make decisions quickly, so access your mental ability to size up a situation and react.

Mountain climbing is a little like learning a dance, but with a terrible, potentially fatal partner! No matter what the season, climbing can be dangerous. Avalanches are alone an unknown killer; between 120 and 150 people die in ice or snow avalanches every year – ski instructors, mountain climbers, etc.

Physical Conditioning

Walking, jogging, long distance endurance training, scrambling exercises up a hilltop, skiing, and swimming are all good ways to get in shape before your first major climb.

Tools and Equipment

When it comes to hiking gear, it’s said that mountain climbers are obsessed with weight, and for a very good reason. No matter how strong you are, be prepared to carry no more than 25% of your body weight. Here is a checklist of what you need to bring. Cotton is heavier than synthetics, which is the reason for the “no cotton” rule. It can vary upon the trip and terrain, but here are some of the basics.

What to wear

Hiking Pants no cotton jeans. Socks, shoes, and sneakers (hiking boots are usually unnecessary). A non-cotton T-shirt, long sleeved with or without a collar and a baseball cap and/or cheap sunglasses.

What to bring

  • A map 1:24,000
  • A good quality Compass
  • Sunscreen (packaged in an eyedropper bottle)
  • LED headlamp with fresh batteries
    Small toothbrush with toothpaste “dots”
  • First aid. This consists of 4-5 band-aids, ibuprofen, Imodium, gauze pads, medical tape rolled onto a plastic straw.
  • For fire building, bring a few Matches, stored in a zip-lock plastic bag. For fire-starter, (essential!) use another other zip lock bag filled with ordinary dryer lint, or cotton balls soaked in Vaseline.
  • You will also need a 1 litre sized water bottle, and a 33 gallon garbage bag to use as a raincoat or emergency shelter.

Climbing Ethics

Never climb alone – bring along friends who are experienced climbers. When you go on your first climb, remember that it is a privilege to climb in a pristine, natural environment. Many climbers adopt a “Leave No Trace” mentality – no garbage left behind, not even smashing flowers as they pass, whenever possible.