Gear For Safe Mountaineering
Mountaineering has been a popular pastime long before it became a sport. It’s a great way to test your endurance and all that fresh mountain air is perfect to get away from the city and forget your everyday responsibilities. It’s something you can do with your family or a group of good friends.
Climbing a mountain is one of the most amazing and rewarding things you can do. Those high altitudes offer views that are nothing short of breathtaking. Getting so close to nature gives you a real appreciation of how beautiful our world can truly be.
The beauty of mountaineering is that almost anyone can do it. It is not just one specific activity. Skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, and hiking are the main activities but there are others as well. Although some aspects of mountaineering are for those who are a little more rugged and in good physical shape, most people can simply hike at a nice steady pace.
Being prepared in the mountains is extremely important. That means packing the right gear so that you are prepared for any situation even if you only plan on spending a couple of hours hiking or climbing, you must have some essentials with you. While extremely beautiful, trekking in the mountains is not without its problems so it’s crucial you have the right gear with you. We’ll look at 10 pieces of gear you need for safe mountaineering.
1. Appropriate Footwear
The terrain in the mountains can be quite rugged and often very steep. This is one place where you simply can’t skimp on your footwear. You need a good pair of mountaineering or hiking shoes. These shoes are made to support your feet and ankles while you make your way up the mountain and also keep your feet dry. Apart from being sturdy and made of good quality materials, your comfort is important too. Look for boots that are sturdy and durable but aren’t too heavy. Team your boots with a good pair of compression socks and take a spare pair with you as well.
2. A First Aid Kit
Mountaineering will take you to lots of remote places, each with its own beauty. You’ll also see many forests and huge open fields. One thing you need to have with you at all times is a first aid kit. You never know what can happen and you want to be able to administer first aid if someone gets hurt. This is especially important because you most likely will not have medical facilities close by.
Make sure you have all the essential items in there like bandages and antiseptic cleansers, but you should also throw in over the counter medication as well as any prescription medication you may need. If you’re not sure what you need in your first aid kit, ask your local pharmacy to put all the items together for you or learn how to build your own first aid kit.
As insignificant as it may sound, you should also look at sun protection. The sun can be very bright in the mountains so you want to protect your skin from these elements. Make sure you throw in some sunscreen with a good SPF rating and also pack plain colored lip balm. Whether it is summer or winter, you will also eye a hat to protect you from the sauna and also prevent you from getting the nasty sunburn.
3. A Sturdy Backpack
There are so many things you should take with you when you go hiking so you’ll need a good external frame backpack to put everything in. The backpack should be big enough to hold all of your essentials but not too big as to cause you discomfort. Fortunately, there are now ergonomically designed backpacks that have been specially made for mountaineers. Make sure your backpack is water resistant though. If you get caught in the rain, you want your survival odds and ends to stay dry.
4. Shelter From The Elements
You may not plan on spending a night in the forest, but you may unexpectedly find yourself needing to do just that. If you expect your mountaineering trip to take most of the day you should look at bringing along a blow-up tent and sleeping bag. You may still be on the mountain when night falls and you definitely shouldn’t try to navigate your way down the mountain in the dark. You may also find yourself caught in adverse weather conditions like a storm so again, you’ll need to take shelter. If you find yourself in this situation you will need to set up camp for the night or until the weather clears. Make sure your tent is easy to set up and that you have a nice warm sleeping bag as well.
5. Flashlight, Batteries and Matches
Things can change quite quickly in the mountains and forest and you could end up being close to the base of the mountain again when the sun starts to set. You will need a good, heavy-duty tactical flashlight to light your way through the trees and to avoid obstacles that may be in your path or you may need to spend the night camping out. Either way, a flashlight is one of those pieces of equipment you will need when mountaineering. Don’t forget to throw in a spare set of batteries too. You don’t want to be left out in the dark.
If you do need to camp out for the night, you’ll need to light a campfire so don’t forget to pack a firestarter or matches. A campfire will deter wild animals from coming too close but will also serve as a beacon if someone comes looking for you.
6. Climbing Gear
You never know what to expect when mountaineering and you may find yourself climbing a steep incline. There are many mountains with gentle slopes that are relatively easy to climb, but then there are also great formations of rock that take a considerable amount of skill and the right gear to conquer. If you find yourself climbing the latter, safety is a top priority. Make sure you have good climbing gear such as a mountaineering ax, climbing harness, rock climbing shoes, climbing helmet, climbing ropes, etc. check your climbing gear every time you need to use them to ensure you stay safe.
7. Food and Water
That crisp mountain air and all the effort you put into mountaineering can make you hungry sooner thank you think. Depending on how long you plan on trekking through the hills will determine how much food you need to bring with you. Look at packing small pre-packaged dehydrated camping food or sandwiches that are light and easy to carry with you. Energy bars are great for mountaineering because they are individually wrapped to maintain freshness and they are packed with nutrients. Also, take some fruit and nuts with you for natural energy. These are all easy to carry and won’t take up too much space. Also, pack a few bottles of water. There may be a freshwater source where you can replenish your supply of water but if you’re not sure, it’s best to take extra with you or make sure you get yourself a filtered water bottle. You should look at bringing enough food for whatever length of time you plan on being in the mountains and perhaps enough food for one extra day.
8. A Means Of Communication
You should never even consider going hiking or mountaineering without telling someone where you are planning to explore. But it’s not enough to just tell your buddies where you are, you need to be able to communicate with your family and friends, particularly if you unexpectedly end up camping for the night. More importantly, if you get into any trouble you want to be able to call for help. Make sure you take your smartphone with you and make sure it is fully charged. Keep in mind though, you may not always have good reception in the mountains so you will need to bring along an alternative form of communication like an emergency radio or a walkie talkie.
Smartphones have made it very easy to get around town and practically any other place we want to go to. Mountaineers have also found using the hunting GPS on smartphones very convenient. However, some areas may be out of range of mobile internet. As well as bringing along your smartphone, take a plain old compass and map with you. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get lost in the mountains. You can try and get your bearings by getting to higher ground but mountains have their own mini-climate and if thick fog sets in, finding your way around will be difficult without a compass to point you in the right direction.
The right clothing is probably the most important aspect of your mountaineering experience. You absolutely must make sure you are warm and protected from the elements. Hypothermia is a very real threat at high altitudes and forests in general. You may think you have dressed correctly but when the cold sets in the mountains it happens almost without notice. You could be feeling the sun shining on your face one moment and be freezing the next.
Depending on the season you go mountaineering in will determine what clothing you bring with you. In the winter you will need thermal base layer clothing that will keep your warm and dry and then put on something like ski pants and ski jackets. If you’re hiking in warmer months, you may not need the heavy jacket and ski pants but you will still need to find a way to keep warm. A tracksuit is quite fine in the women months, but even if you don’t want to wear your thermal underclothes, take them with you anyway.
Fortunately, many clothing labels now make clothing specifically for mountaineering with high-tech materials that are lightweight, moisture wicking, soft on the skin and very warm. One thing you should avoid is wearing shorts when mountaineering. Apart from ensuring you keep warm, long hiking pants will keep your legs protected from all the things you can be exposed to in the forest like sharp branches, rocks and ticks.
Before you set out on your mountaineering experience, you need to make definite plans. Keep in mind that this activity comes with quite a few risks. Depending on the exact activities you plan on engaging in will be a factor in the type and amount of equipment you will need to take with you. Planning is the key here so first, plan your destination and the activities you plan on doing. Then pack your backpacking backpack accordingly.
Check and double check your backpack before you leave your home and pay attention to your surroundings and enjoy your time in the great outdoors.