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How to Climb a Mountain Safely with 6 Tips

Knowing how to climb a mountain is quite important as inadequate preparation will lead to serious injuries or death. This article shows a detailed guide on how to climb a mountain and lists useful suggestions to ensure you have a safe climbing experience.

By Joy | @Joy

Updated on Aug 09, 2019

Mountain climbing is regarded by some people as an exhilarating pastime that provides the ultimate challenge of strength, endurance and sacrifice, while for others it is an extreme sport as it is highly dangerous, even fatal, just like free solo climbing. When a climber is out of his depth or simply overwhelmed by terrible weather, terrain or other hazards of the mountain, mountaineering becomes a particularly dangerous outdoor activity. Knowing how to climb a mountain is quite important for you as inexperience, poor planning and inadequate equipment will lead to serious injuries or death. 

 how to climb a mountain 2019

How to Climb a Mountain Safely with 6 Tips

However, mountaineering is not as easy as many other interesting and challenging activities. A mountain climbing usually requires adequate preparations and you have to make sure that you are both physically and mentally prepared for the adventure, because there is no easy way to turn back after you set out. Don’t worry. This article will show you a detailed guide on how to climb a mountain and list some useful suggestions to ensure you have a safe and happy climbing experience.

1. Study the mountain and terrain you are going to climb

Be sure to do your research carefully and find out the most basic and important information about the mountain, including the altitude, approximate time to reach the peak, terrain, etc. Before climbing, you’d better do as much reading as you can about the required skills and the experiences of other mountaineers. It’s not hard to find good books as many bookstores have sections devoted to mountaineering techniques.

• Mountaineering: The Freedom of The Hills is a good primer for you.

• Learn about the best time to climb mountains in different regions. For example, the best time to climb in Europe is from June to September, in New Zealand it’s from December to March, and in Alaska it’s June and July. If you have the ability and interest to travel to the mountains beyond your own country, it will provide you with more opportunities to travel in different alpine seasons around the world. 

• Get all the information about weather conditions and mountains. Mountains create their own weather system, so spend some time on learning how to read the signs of bad weather, how to read clouds, how to test wind direction, and what weather changes throughout the day affect your climbing, how to deal with lightning strikes, etc.

• There are many good documentaries and movies focused on mountaineering, so if necessary, watch a DVD about the mountain climbing experience. 

2. Physical Preparation

To make your mountain climbing enjoyable, your body needs to be in good working order. To effectively exercise your cardiovascular system, you can spend some time on regularly running, cycling, aerobics, hiking and swimming. Indoor stair climbing helps build up leg muscles for your climbing. Weight lifting can strengthen the upper body, allowing for weight bearing and rock climbing.

 climb a mountain

>> Also read: Don’t miss the 10 tips for cycling in the rain when exercising.

Remember to climb a mountain with a group of people as it’s the best training for you.  You’d better put some weight on your back and head uphill. You can try a nearby hike, where you can gain elevation for your climbing. Or just find a long staircase and do some repetition to improve your endurance.

TIP : Be sure not to overexert yourself before climbing. We recommend you consult your physician before considering this activity. Note that mountaineering is not advisable for those who suffer from cardiac and lung disease, or those who have experienced similar problems in the past.

3. Mental Preparation

Mountaineering requires more than athletic ability and technical climbing skills, because it also takes a different mindset from climbing close to civilization. A good mental attitude is needed as you have to make reasonable and quick judgments for conditions, direction and safety while climbing. You must put in more time and energy to complete an alpine climbing and you have to be prepared for some difficulties, discomfort and risks along the way. You can ask yourself the following questions to assess your mental strength.

• Do you panic easily or make rash decisions? People with this temperament are dangerous when climbing mountains as climbers need to have a steady mind, calm and clear thinking, and an ability to quickly find the best solution. 

• Can you overcome the painful obstacles or do you prefer to give up and find something else that is not so hard?

• Are you naturally positive? Note that overconfidence is undesirable as it can cause some serious trouble while climbing.

• Are you a good problem solver?

4. Prepare your climbing gear

If you are going on climbing mountains, prepare your gear a month in advance, particular for a multi-day or extremely high or cold expedition. Don't wait until the last minute to see if your equipment is working properly or if you need something new, even as simple as glacier glasses. 

If you don't wear and carry the necessary climbing equipment, you might end up your hiking earlier than expected. Remember to only pack the necessary things as excessive packaging will result in a heavy pack and you'll regret once you climb and do a lot of walking. Check the things you may need:

• Something worn : cotton - free and warm clothing; wear socks that can remove moisture; gloves; balaclavas or face masks; extra socks; climbing boots with crampons; helmet; gaiters.

• Sunscreen and lip salve, sunglasses, goggles.

• Head lamp

• Backpack. Choose one that is lightweight but sturdy and big enough to meet all your needs.

• Rope and carabiners. Never buy fragile hooks.

• Ice screws, nuts, slings, etc. Note that these items are dependent on the type of mountain you climb.

• First aid kit.

• Climbing permit.

• Sleeping bag and tent. You much select a tent that is able to withstand high wind and snow.

• Passport if crossing borders.

• Feces and urine removal kit and toilet paper.

• Cooking supplies, water and some high-energy food. Check the guide on how to purify water in the wild and how to make a fire in the wild.

5. Climb a mountain with a guide

If you are new to mountaineering, the best way to directly participate in the sport is to hire a tour guide service. If you are healthy, there are countless guides around the world who will take you to any mountain you want. You can even sign up to climb Mt. Everest if your checkbook is big enough and you have some previous climbing experience. However, most beginners will choose something less ambitious and learn the basic climbing skills from the guide along the way.

6. Make sure there's enough time to get back safely

Note that the descent is quite difficult and dangerous, so ensure you have enough time to get back safely. Although it may seem easier than going up, this is when accidents are most likely to happen, and when your concentration tends to lapse. Check the tips below:

• You must stay focused on finding a good foothold while scrambling and climbing down the mountain.

• Remember to scramble where it is safe to do so as it's faster and easier to scramble facing out.

• Be very careful when going downhill. The abseiling at the end of the day will tend to have a high accident rate because of the tired climbers, misplace anchors, and sling breaks. People usually don't have enough vigilance when running downhill. Remember to check the falling rocks, avalanches, and weakened snow and snow bridges.

• You must keep roped. When crossing the last glacier, you may feel like you are almost at the base, but if you don't have a rope and fall down a crack, it will be very dangerous for you.

 climb a mountain GPS tracker

Apart from the 6 tips above, you can also get some specialized training courses from a mountain club to keep improving your skills for climbing. When everything is ready, plan you first climb.

Things to Pack in Emergency Kit before Climbing a Mountain 

Mountaineering is an extreme and dangerous outdoor activity, so is vital for anyone to carefully check your emergency kit before planning to climb a mountain. See the things below:

1. First aid kit

Don’t forget to pack any medications you use in the first aid kit. It also includes bandages, gauze, tape, preservatives, lotions, sunscreen and other items that might need in the event of an accident or emergency. Note that the possible problems include poisoning, injury and becoming stranded. 

2. Supplies

Dehydration can be your downfall, so make sure that you prepare enough food and water for climbing. Read carefully about the types of food supplies. In general, they are usually high in fat, like chocolate, nuts, candy, cookies, condensed milk, cheese, dried fruit, candy bars, olive oil, energy bars, etc.

3. GPS Tracker

Carrying a GPS tracker is quite important for climbers as it’s easy to get lost when you are in the mountains. GoFindMe is a top option for you as it can monitor and track your location in real time without needing network. It allows you to communicate with your team members via text or voice messages. It is also waterproof, dustproof and shockproof. You can set Geo-fence for others and you will receive alerts while they are beyond the boundary. Furthermore, if you encounter an emergency, you can press the SOS button.

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4. Survival bag

It is an amazing bag especially designed for climbers. If you are trapped or injured, you can climb inside the survival bag to keep warm and safe. It is usually in bright orange and will attract the attention of anyone who is looking for you. Don't use a silver safety blanket instead of a survival bag.

5. Flashlight

Remember to pack a flashlight in your emergency kit, but don’t forget to bring spare batteries.

Things to Avoid When Climbing a Mountain

Mountaineering can bring a range of conditions and environments that are not often encountered in sport climbing. Therefore, to enjoy a safe climbing experience, you must ensure that you know the things to avoid when climbing a mountain. Just check the suggestions below:

1. Avoid a solo hiking

We advise you not to climb the mountain alone, especially if you plan to a place where you are not familiar with. Climbing with a group of members is always the best. If you still want to enjoy a hiking alone, don’t forget to read the 5 solo hiking tips for a safe and happy trip.

2. Don’t ignore the marks

The trails are always marked for a very good reason, so don’t ignore any marks while climbing. If you finally choose an alternate route, your shortcut may get you lost or may lead you to a dead end where you can't continue. If you do so, your climbing will end up taking more time than you originally planned. 

3. Inappropriately dressed

The closer you get to the top of the mountain, the faster the temperature drops. Never wear cotton clothes. Be sure to wear multiple layers of clothing to help keep your body warm. Remember to wear moisture-resistant clothing to dry quickly. You must avoid wearing some camouflage patterns. Instead, you can choose brightly colored clothing to help your partners keep an eye on you. It also makes it easier to find you if you get lost.

4. Avoid climbing on waterfall

Waterfalls are one of the most impressive creations in the world, but trying to jump over them during the climbing is not a good idea for you. There are many fatal accidents and deaths are recorded as some people decide to take risks after seeing this in too many movies. Don't let the scenery lure you over the precipice.

Bottom Line:

Despite mountaineering is a dangerous sport, it can be an exciting, exhilarating and rewarding experience if done well. Hope the guide on how to climb a mountain can help you experience a safe and happy trip. Don’t forget to share the tips with your friends and families.

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