We have come across many articles on the internet but very few articles tell us how to start mountaineering. We would like to share with you ten simple steps that you can take to begin your first mountaineering adventure.
- Make a decision about the big items
- Choose the best time for your trip
- Climb the right mountain
- Decide who you will climb with
- Choose the best route
- Get started on your training
- Become familiar with basic survival skills
- Acquire technical skills
- Shop for apparel, gear, and equipment
- Don’t forget to pack your bags
1. Make a decision about the big items
It is entirely up to you how much you spend on a mountaineering trip but it is virtually impossible to not spend a single cent when you start mountaineering.
By knowing your budget, you can make better decisions about many things as you choose. At the same time, do not make your decisions based solely on money, especially if that compromises your health.
You will be expected to pay for the following purposes:
- Transportation: this can include a flight, train, bus ticket, car rental, or even just fuel to get to the mountains.
- You will have to sleep either in tents (rented or purchased) or mountain huts when climbing multi-day routes.
- Equipment and attire: you will need to rent or buy climbing equipment and attire besides your basic workout clothes.
- Guide or porters: some mountains cannot be climbed without the help of a certified guide. It is always a good idea to have a guide for your first few climbs. Many climbers also find it more convenient to hire porters to carry bulky items like tents and water and food.
- Books or courses: climbing courses are typically quite expensive. There are probably lots of free videos online and people can lend you books.
Your climb’s duration
Beginners may prefer climbing trips that last between 2 and 3 days.
You can’t fully experience the climbing experience if you only climb for a day (carrying a backpack of clothes and food or spending the night outdoors, etc.).
It is possible to develop cumulative fatigue if you climb for more than three days. Getting to the summit or atop a mountain is great, but going back down is painful.
Level of comfort desired
A lot of climbers live for challenges – they want to be challenged to the limit and emerge triumphant on the other side.
Many climbers enjoy the social aspect of climbing, which includes making memories with family and friends while accomplishing a common goal.
If you are new to mountaineering, you might want to start looking for “more developed” mountains. Climbers might sleep in huts and shelters rather than tents and bags in these mountains. In mountains, there should be built-up toilets along the routes instead of digging holes in the ground.
You can also do without these creature comforts on your subsequent climbs if you feel they make you feel like a cheater. Nevertheless, at least you know now if mountaineering isn’t for you even with these facilities!
2. Choose the best time for your trip
If you plan to go mountaineering, you should start preparing at least a few months before your trip. In this way, you will have plenty of time to train and learn basic survival skills or even technical climbing skills.
Beginners should plan their mountaineering trips during the warmer months (late spring, summer, early autumn and by doing so, you will not only reduce the amount of clothing and equipment you will need for your climb, but you will also eliminate the more challenging snowy and icy conditions.
A climb in an area with harsh summers is also not recommended as this increases the chances of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Hydrate yourself properly by carrying more water as well. In turn, this adds weight to your backpack, which in turn causes you to sweat more, resulting in a vicious cycle
During certain seasons (such as periods with heavy snow or typhoons), some mountains may also be closed to climbing, so make sure to check ahead of time.
3. Climb the right mountain
Having your eyes set on a specific mountain is awesome!
Following are some guidelines to help you get started if you’re clueless:
- You can find a mountain near you.
- As a result, it will be less costly and you are less likely to procrastinate.
- Try to find a mountain that is lower than 13,000 feet (4,000 meters).
- You will need two or three days to climb this.
- At this elevation, altitude sickness is less likely to occur.
- Search for non-technical mountains.
- This means that no special tools are needed to climb the mountain.
- Terrain isn’t very steep.
- Additionally, there is no ice or snow on the route.
- You can climb the mountain without taking any courses or requiring any climbing equipment.
You may also need a permit to climb certain mountains. Before making a wasted trip, make sure to make the required application.
4. Decide who you will climb with
It is mandatory for climbers to be accompanied by a certified guide on some mountains, as mentioned above. Although guides are not mandatory on many mountains, it is always useful to have someone with experience when you first begin to climb.
Guides who have climbed and climbed the same mountain hundreds of times have a vast pool of knowledge and experience you can draw on.
In addition, your route will also be planned, so you’ll just have to follow along.
There have even been times when guides have carried climbers down mountains in emergencies.
Moreover, they always know where to set up camp and where to catch the best sunrise views.
If you are climbing for the first time, we recommend hiring a guide.
Porters are there to assist with transporting equipment such as tents, cookery supplies, food, water, and so on.
If you desire, you may also hire a porter to transport your backpack.
Even if you climb without a guide or porter, it is still advisable to climb with someone.
It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, sometimes stuff just happens like a twist in your ankle, a loss of bearings, or just a need for motivation might prevent you from continuing.
Look for climbing clubs or community groups nearby if your family and friends are not interested in mountaineering. Another way to connect with other climbers is through online groups or forums.
You can pick up climbing skills and techniques for less money by climbing with friends.
5. Choose the best route
A mountain can usually be climbed and descended in several ways. A few questions to ask yourself:
- Is it your intention to climb and descend the mountain the same way?
- One might find it easier to climb steep terrain one way and descend the other (personally, I find it easier to climb steep terrain than to descend).
- On some routes, the view might be better.
- Is the longer, less strenuous route more appealing to you, or are you willing to take an easier, faster route?
- By ascenting more slowly, you have a greater chance of adjusting to the altitude.
- Do you know where you want to start?
- The majority of climbers start at the middle of many mountains (e.g. Mount Fuji reaches a height of 12,388 feet (3,776 meters) in Japan, and most people climb from a height of 7,874 feet (2,400 meters)).
- You can usually reach the starting points by car, bus, or cable car.
- You will reduce your climbing time significantly by starting at these midpoint
- Would you prefer a less crowded route or would you prefer a popular, busier route?
- When climbing a popular mountain, you might be unable to do this if you follow the popular route.
- There is a tradeoff between going down a popular route and going through a difficult route.
6. Get started on your training
Mountaineering does not require extreme fitness or athletic ability. You should adopt a slow-and-steady approach to ascending your first mountain.
You will have a more enjoyable climbing experience if you are fit, and you won’t be as concerned with holding up the group.
Train three months prior to your climb.
You don’t need to overthink it. Here are a few basics you should work on:
Stamina and endurance
Running a marathon isn’t what we’re talking about here. But you have to be prepared to be hiking for about 8 hours every day and with a heavy backpack on your shoulders.
If you find that fun, train your endurance and stamina that way. You can run, swim, bike, do yoga, or play some sports.
It’s important to work out for three hours a week. That’s just 30 minutes every day, or 1 hour every other day.
Spread out your exercise sessions instead of cramming in 3 hours on the weekend.
You need to start training with your backpack at least two months before you climb.
Around 30 pounds (14 kilograms) is the weight of a fully loaded 55-litre backpack.
- Put 20 pounds (10 kilograms) in your backpack, and walk for at least two hours.
- Go for a minimum two-hour walk with a backpack loaded to 10 pounds (20 kg). You can also take stairs if there is an inclined terrain.
- Put 25 pounds (12kg) in your backpack and walk for at least 2 hours. You can also take stairs if there is an inclined terrain.
- Go for an at least two-hour walk with a backpack loaded to 30 pounds (14 kg). You can also take stairs if there is an inclined terrain.
These are probably only feasible on weekends. These would be ideal places to train if you have easy access to parks or nature reserves. You can climb steep slopes in your neighborhood or just walk around your neighborhood to find stairways.
Part of your endurance and stamina training can be replaced by this.
Specific muscle groups
You can workout your whole body while mountaineering. The result is usually that you will experience aches in places you didn’t even know could hurt.
Train the following muscles:
- Glutes (your buttocks)
- Hamstrings and thighs
- The calves
- The core
- The lower back
- The upper back
- The arms
Despite the fact that your climb is not technical, you will still need a strong core and back to carry your backpack all day.
Visit an area with an elevation of at least 8,000 feet (2,500 meters) at least one month before your climb. As you do this more often, your body will become more acclimated to the lower oxygen levels at higher elevations. It is important to do this at least once to determine whether you are prone to altitude sickness.
A few repeated visits might help you acclimatize and your symptoms should lessen if you suffer from mild altitude sickness.
Other medications can be administered to prevent altitude sickness, such as diamox and acetazolamide (diamox). Before taking any medication or drug at high altitudes, you should consult your doctor.
7. Become familiar with basic survival skills
No matter how many guides, porters, and fellow climbers are with you, the following basic survival skills are still helpful:
- Learn how to read a compass
- What to look for on a map
- Learn how to use a compass and a map
- The basics of first aid
- What are the best way to treat cuts and bruises
- The treatment for sprains, strains, and twisted ankles or wrists
- What are the signs and treatments of heat stroke and heat exhaustion
- What to watch out for and how to treat altitude sickness
- Among others
- The best way to collect and purify drinking water
- How to light a fire and cook
- The proper way to pitch a tent
- Tie a knot
- Identifying poisonous plants
- Staying away from wildlife
8. Acquire technical skills
For non-technical climbing, this is typically not necessary.
In most schools, you can take an introductory course in mountaineering and/or Alpine Climbing. The best way to learn technical climbing is to take a course at a climbing school.
The topics covered in an average course are:
- Tools and their uses, such as knots, ropes, and hardware
- What you can do to protect yourself
- The best way to protect others
- Practice climbing is usually included
These courses are priced as follows:
- Courses lasting 1 to 3 days: USD 500 to USD 800
- Courses lasting 4 to 6 days: USD 1,000 – USD 1,400
- Courses lasting 10 to 12 days: USD 2,200 – 2,800
It’s a good idea to climb a non-technical mountain before investing time and money into such a course, since the investment is quite high.
Several cheaper alternatives are available as well:
- Get trained in belaying, ropeway, and knot tying at a local rock climbing gym
- Watch videos online
- Book reading is a great way to pass the time. Mountaineering: The Freedom Of The Hills is a classic text. Over 40 experts have contributed to this book, which is considered the standard textbook for mountaineering and climbing.
9. Shop for apparel, gear, and equipment
You probably have more stuff than you think if you climb during the summer months.
As minimum, you can do the following:
- Put on gloves
- Although it’s hot outside, gloves are useful when you need to protect your hands when you grab rocks or stones to climb
- Shirts that are breathable
- Long sleeved ones provide better sun protection
- For wet weather, a rain jacket or poncho
- Stretchable, squat-resilient pants
- Two pairs of socks
- Trainers or hiking boots
- To make sure your trainers are grip-worthy even on wet or sandy surfaces, check their grip
- Underwear and sleeping apparel
Mountain night temperatures should be checked. You will find that the temperature drops dramatically after sunset as you ascend higher in the mountains. Depending on your elevation and region, it may be 50 to 70 degrees F (10 to 20 degrees) colder as you go up.
- Rather than packing one thick jacket, it’s better to have two thinner ones. To handle the varying temperatures, you can put on and take off layers as needed.
- It is best to pair an inner fleece or down jacket with an outer windbreaker. You can wear your rain jacket as a windbreaker layer as well.
- Pants that are windproof
- A thicker pair of socks, such as wool
- Your backpack is something you should splurge on. You will be carrying your backpack for most of the climb and having a good one will minimize aching shoulders and backs.
- Mountaineering backpacks are different from ordinary backpacks you might use for work or school.
- To relieve some of the weight from your shoulders, a mountaineering backpack should have a waist strap.
- For a 2 to 3 night climb, you will need a backpack of 40 to 50 liters.
- A rented or borrowed backpack could be the answer if you do not want to purchase one.
To find more about gear, check out this article!
A pair of hiking sticks can be useful, but isn’t necessary when climbing nontechnical mountains. You can also use a sturdy long branch from the woods.
However, if you want to climb technically, you’ll need the following equipment:
It is possible that a guide has some of these tools, while others can be shared by other climbers. To save some money, try renting or borrowing these items from others.
10. Don’t forget to pack your bags
Surely by now you’ve realized your backpack has turned out to be one of your most dreaded companions.
Keep your enemies small.
Even though it might be tempting to pack a lot of “just in case” gear, you will be regretting it an hour into your climb.
In addition to the clothes, gear, and equipment mentioned above, you should also bring:
- Personal belongings such as wallets, medical or insurance information, watches
- Light source
- Electronics such as camera, cell phones
- First aid supplies
- Navigation items such as maps, compasses
- Shelter such as tents, sleeping bags
- Cooking supplies*
Porters will typically carry the items marked with an * above if you hire them.
Use Ziploc bags or small bags for packing your stuff to keep them compartmentalized. When you’re looking for things and repacking them, this is helpful.
You should also place your heavier items lower down and as close to your back as possible in the backpack. Keeping your balance when climbing is made easier when your center of gravity is lower.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What is the easiest mountain to climb for a beginner?
Here is the list of mountains for beginner:
Mount Baker (USA)
Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)
Mount Elbrus (Russia)
Mount Aconcagua (Argentina)
Mount Fuji (Japan)
Mount Hood (USA)
How do you train to climb mountain at home?
Here are the ways to train to climb mountain at home:
Exercises for Endurance, Strength, Balance and Flexibility
Step Up Exercise
Heel Down Exercise
Single-Leg Deadlift Exercise
How hard is to climb a mountain?
You might spend long hours working your way up and down mountains with a heavy load on your back while mountaineering is physically and mentally demanding. To be able to climb, you must possess technical skills, such as how to use an ice axe or how to rescue someone from a crevasse.