If you’re considering attempting mountain climbing during winter, here’s what you should know before hitting the sports shops for crampons and other ice climbing tools.
Do Acclimate Your Body
If you don’t come from a place that’s visited by winter, make sure that you spend an adequate time allowing your body to adjust and acclimate itself to this season. Mountain climbing during winter is only a viable solution for you if you’re sure that your body has adjusted properly to the intensely of the colder climate.
If you don’t come from a place where there’s snow, be sure to spend sufficient time as well acquainting yourself to traveling in snow. Take the time to learn about basic emergency tips as well as for common accidents, injuries, and illnesses caused by winter.
Do Practice and Be in Shape
Ice climbing is arguably the most difficult of all types of mountain climbing so if your skills belong only to the beginners’ category, you definitely need to polish your skills and make sure you are in shape before you can be sure that you won’t die on your first attempt. Ice climbing, albeit exciting, is absolutely a dangerous sport as well.
Consult with a professional and see what he thinks about your skills. If he doesn’t think you’re up to the rigors of mountain climbing during winter, don’t push your luck and proceed with your plans. Read more, practice more, and you’ll soon be ready for it. Be patient!
Do Bring Proper Clothing and Equipment
When choosing what clothes to wear or bring for mountain climbing during winter, always consider practicality over fashion. Although the latest trends in winter clothing may seem irresistible, looking good won’t get you anywhere if they can’t provide you with adequate protection as you start climbing icy slopes.
There will be times that your hands will seem too numb or frozen to be as nimble as they are, and this will make tying knots more difficult. As such, it’s important that you learn how to tie your rope quickly and efficiently so that you can continue doing them successfully even if you’re slightly handicapped because of the weather.
The usual shoes you’re wearing for mountain climbing is probably ineffective if you’re planning to climb during the winter. Do purchase a pair of mountaineering boots that will allow you to tread safely on snowy and slippery slopes.
Do Learn the Etiquette
Out motto is “don’t take anything but pictures and leave nothing but footprints and memories”. Seriously, though we aren’t kidding. Many others have a simple acronym LNT or Leave No Trace.
Don’t leave anything behind as it would spoil the trail for whoever visits after you. The mountains are a beautiful, unspoiled piece of paradise and should be respected as such and left just as pristine and natural as it was for you.
Before you go, read up on proper toilet etiquette while mountaineering as each place may have different rules.
In general, take an extra plastic bag for your leftover foodstuff and whatever other waste you generate and carry this with you for the rest of your climb to discard when you get back to civilization.
Do Carry Enough Food and Water
Food is important but water is vital. Stop and read that again. You can survive several days without food but not without water. So stop and read that again.
Mountaineering makes you sweat, which means you will dehydrate faster than for normal activities. Consuming enough fluids will keep your body in good condition and enable you to finish the climb.
Severe dehydration has serious medical consequences and should be avoided at all cost. When packing your food and gear, make sure you have space for water purification tools. There is no way you can’t possibly carry enough water with you for the entire trip so make sure you have some water filtration device.
Also, pack some electrolyte powders – most sport nutrition brands have some easy to use packets that you can just add to your water and gulp down. These are lightweight to carry and won’t take up much space in your pack, but they will pack a serious energy and nutrient punch when you need it.
Do Watch the Weather
Mountain weather is notoriously fickle. Before you head out, make sure to check the latest update on the local weather.
While you’re out climbing, keep an ever watchful eye on the weather. Be prepared and cautious if it looks like there’s a storm brewing.
Getting stuck in bad weather, especially when you’re deep into the mountains, is never fun and unfortunately, can be fatal.
If the weather isn’t playing along, it is best to postpone your trip by a day or two and wait for better weather. Trust us, it’s worth it.
Do Have a Means of Communication
Take your phone, radio or gps with you (sealed in a waterproof bag of course) when you are mountaineering. In the event of an emergency it may save valuable time if you are able to contact the emergency services immediately.
Be aware that network signal strength can be non-existent in some remote areas. For such expeditions, radios are essential as they enable party members to communicate when out of sight of each other on the mountain, but also to radio for assistance if it is needed.
Do Have a First Aid Kit
Taking the time to learn some basic first aid training is useful knowledge to have (not only for mountaineering but for every day occurrences). Courses are very affordable, easy to learn and short in duration, but can prove invaluable out on the hill or at any other time.
Always carry a personal first aid kit with you. They won’t take up much space but can help save your as there will always be scrapes, scratches and other injuries on your climb.
Don’t Climb Alone
Last but not least and I cannot emphasize this enough, avoid climbing alone. Whether you’re mountain climbing during summer or winter, you should have at least one companion with you because two brains always work better than one.
Don’t Keep Medical Issues a Secret
Since you aren’t climbing alone (see above), don’t keep anything medical from your team. By doing so, you jeopardize not only your self, but also everyone on your team.
It does not matter the size or scale of the injury. It could be a scrape, a cut, a blister, a rash or whatever. Let your team know and together you can all figure out the best way to proceed.
Don’t Venture Off Your Trail Plan
If you have done your proper trip planning, you will have a trail plan. Make sure to leave a copy with someone who is staying behind. In the event of an injury, the rescue team will first focus on this plan in your search and rescue. If you venture too far off your trail plan, they will take longer to find you.
So there you have it–our list of Do’s and Don’ts for Mountain Climbing. Hopefully, there is something on the list that you can add to your list to ensure you have a safe and uneventful climb.