A mountain summit is an incredible experience, but what does it take to get there? Mountaineering includes long, non-technical hikes with high camp locations to difficult-nut multi-pitch climbing on icy rock faces. So Lobbying Missouri was another one of the greatest hikes.
Trips can last from a few weeks to several months, but whatever your distance, you'll need decent physical fitness, technical know-how, and, most importantly, the appropriate attitude for the job. If you've sorted everything else and are ready to go, read on for some pointers.
1. Build up the basics
Get in shape by walking and stair climbing daily, and add regular running and cycling to build stamina. Weights will help strengthen your upper body. Going to a climbing gym will give you an understanding of basic concepts such as using a harness, belaying and tying into a rope.
Then put on a heavy rucksack for added weight and go uphill--the steeper, the better. Do multiple-day backpacking trips often, practise scrambling as much as possible, and become confident navigating large crags solo and with another person roped together. Lastly, learn to do all this while being comfortable in cold weather because mountaineering can be very chilly."
2. Take a course
The Freedom of the Hills is a good place to start, "a mountain-biking guidebook for those who can't ride." If you have mountaineering buddies, they may be able to teach you the fundamentals, but nothing compares to taking a class. Going with a guide puts you in the mountains, gives immediate feedback, and provides a personal experience.
Our courses typically last six days and explore topics such as class 2-3 routes, route planning, navigation, safe travel, rock climbing, and mountain rescue logistics like weather analysis. Some also discuss snow and ice safety measures like self-arrest and glacier hiking so you can feel more confident making decisions when mountaineering.
3. Become a master of the maps
Improve your navigational skills by plotting a course between two points on any map. Practice at home with routes you can take, and use all the tools available to you – GPS, compass, altimeter, map contours, triangulation, bearings and sightings. And when you feel confident enough in your abilities, put those navigation skills to the test by purposely getting lost and trying to find your way back again.
Predicting your pace correctly is key for planning any hikes, as it prevents you from overexerting yourself and becoming too exhausted. Get an understanding of your usual pacing by measuring out a distance on a location close to home, making sure to factor in hills as they will change how fast you go based on the incline and how tired you become.
4. Prepare for altitude
If you are 3Ker or above, altitude will likely influence you negatively. Its mildest form can cause insomnia and a loss of appetite, two factors that lead to decreased motivation and fitness levels. However, its worst form leads to pulmonary oedema- when your lungs flood with water- which can be deadly.
It's critical to acclimatize. When you go slowly up, climb high, and camp low, the body has a way of figuring things out. Rehydrate and eat even if you don't feel like it. Use pressure breathing to control blood oxygen levels while hiking at a slower speed and taking measured rhythmic steps out on the trail. If you become lost or have a cough, descend as quickly as possible.
5. Plan, plan, plan
If you're starting, begin with local climbs or well-travelled routes with straightforward access to information. Additionally, consider the difficulty of a route when planning your days – an ascent that initially seems manageable can become much harder after carrying a heavy pack all day. Finally, always be prepared for bad weather conditions and have an alternate plan if your first one falls through.
Before heading out on your hike, plan everything detailed and account for any possible language barriers. It is also important to start hiking early in the morning and end by early afternoon, especially if you are hiking in icy regions where there is a greater chance of rock falling later in the day. Finally, be flexible and adaptable; if you have to camp overnight unexpectedly, you've pushed yourself too hard.
Hiring a guide is always better than gambling on your own when trying to improve your skills.