Mountaineering is an adventurous and thrilling sport but it also tests your endurance and mental toughness. Despite all the precautions, some mishaps can always occur and the real mountaineer is the one who can not only stand up to the challenge, looks after himself and other crew members well. These tips will help you chalk out a definite plan on how to embark on an expedition and come back successfully.
Training for mountaineering
Mountaineering is a thrilling but somewhat dangerous pursuit that should never be undertaken without a good understanding of the many different aspects involved, ranging from map reading and navigation skills to rope work and understanding the mountain weather. You should definitely consider engaging with a reputable organization that offers expert advice on all matters.
Acclimatization is Far More Necessary
It is better to arrive at your starting point a few days early. This will help you get a brief idea of how weather here is. This info can help you pack the requisite clothes and other gear, suitable for your type of sport. You can help prevent altitude-related illnesses by giving your body time to acclimatize to high altitudes.
Preparation and planning
Always take time to plan and prepare your ascent. This will be the time well spent and chances of your having a successful and enjoyable ascent will be far higher if you have heeded the instructions and prepared well. Plan your route beforehand and prepare your kit regardless of whether you’re going for a short climb or a two month expedition, because once you leave your base, you will live off your bag and some careful planning can make all the difference. It is no good being out on the mountain only to find you left your ice-cutting axe at home.
Prepare a list of items you will be carrying and before preparing your bag, cross check the items twice, just to ensure you have not missed out on any essential item.
It is in your interest to invest in a good pair of rugged mountaineering boots. For summer mountaineering you can get away with a stiff pair of walking boots, but for winter mountaineering a crampon rated boot will be needed. Visit a reputable outdoor retailer who will offer good advice on the best mountaineering boot to suit your needs. Every terrain has specialised needs and the retailer will be the best source of vital information.
Climbers should make sure to carry plenty of food (and water) on any mountaineering trip. Food should be high in energy and light in weight. Looking at the popularity and increased clientele, vendors now stock many high-energy bars and pre-packaged meals. Food is the only thing which can change your mood so ensure that it is tasty and energy-giving and more importantly, enjoyable. Emergency rations are essential on any mountaineering trip in case you are on the mountain for longer than anticipated earlier.
Read Weather Forecast
It is always best to check the forecast for next few days before embarking on any mountaineering trip. If adverse conditions are likely to prevail, you can always postpone a summit attempt for another day, with more favourable weather conditions. However, once you are on your route, changing will be difficult.There won't be any option other than to forge ahead, with little options either to check your progress or look for a retreat.
Carry Emergency Shelter
Mountaineering is a risky sport and nothing can be defined beforehand. Despite too many precautions, many completely avoidable accidents and injuries occur in mountaineering because people simply underestimate the awesome forces of mountain weather.
Carrying an emergency shelter is recommended as they are small and lightweight but can be life savers, protecting you from the elements should the weather suddenly turn. There are many shelters available from two-person to large group shelters, so choose wisely. Some of the best available are Terra Novas Bothy Bags.
Actions for an emergency
Accident is the last thing anybody would want, but they happen with everyone and at regular intervals. It would be foolhardy to think that accidents will never happen with them and this will always be the case. It is better to take some time to prepare for, and practice actions on different types of emergencies.
Intense training means you will immediately react without thinking, which is beneficial as decision-making abilities are severely impaired in stressful conditions.
Whenever you are caught in a mountaineering emergency:
If anyone develops a severe headache or other high altitude sickness symptoms, try to descend at least 3,000 feet immediately and seek medical attention. It can be fatal otherwise.
Emergency Communication Options
PreventingHigh Altitude-related Illnesses
Besides the hardship & dangers of hiking up a mountain, the high altitude itself can cause serious health concerns. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the most common altitude-related disorder. The primary symptom is a severe headache, but other symptoms may include the following:
Some other altitude-related disorders include:
You are advised to always take AMS seriously because it may put you at risk for HAPE or HACE. These are very serious conditions. HAPE happens when excess fluid collects in your lungs. It can cause shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and coughing up of frothy sputum. HACE happens when fluid collects in your brain. It can cause confusion, uncharacteristic behavior, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness.
There are several steps you can take to lower your risk of altitude-related illnesses.
Most high altitude-related illnesses are caused by lack of oxygen. You may be able to avoid altitude sickness by proper acclimatization. It’s important to take your time to travel to high altitudes. Rather than rushing or flying to a high-altitude starting point, start at low altitudes and gradually move your way up.
Once you reach an altitude of around 8,000 feet, do not climb more than 1,000 feet per day. It is also important to stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and other spirits, try to stay warm, and eat regularly. Some climbers and trek leaders also carry an oxygen supply when traveling to extremely high altitudes.
The drug acetazolamide, which works by stimulating your breathing, may help you make ascents without acclimating first. This helps you take in more oxygen. It also mimics the physiological changes associated with acclimatization. It is better to consult your family physician before consuming it.
Sometimes, sleeping at high altitudes can prove to be difficult. Low oxygen levels during the night can interrupt your sleep or leave you feeling tired in the morning. Acetazolamide can help you breathe better throughout the night. The adage most climbers swear by is “Climb high, sleep low”. You should sleep at the lowest altitude possible that’s compatible with your trip.
Everyone should know of their deficiencies before taking up an expedition. If you’re prone to iron deficiency anemia, you may want to consider taking an iron supplement before and during travel to high altitudes. Oxygen is transported throughout your body in red blood cells. If you have anemia, you have fewer red blood to carry oxygen. As a result, you’re more likely to experience altitude sickness than some with normal red blood cell counts. It always pays to consult your family physician who can recommend a suitable supplement.
Stay Safe and Alert
Proper preparation and careful attention to safety, high altitude hiking and mountain travel can be a fun, challenging, and truly an inspiring all-round experience. Always pack appropriate gear. Take time to acclimatize yourself to higher altitudes. And ask your doctor about the potential benefits of taking acetazolamide and iron supplements.