How To Get Started With Mountaineering
Mountaineering as an idea is far more intimidating than scaling peaks are in practice, and once people get started they are often amazed at what they are capable of, regardless of their fitness level at the foot of the mountain.
Like all hobbies, you get better the more you practice, the more you learn and the more you try. Guided mountain walks are a great place to start to see if it is for you, but if you want to go from scaling local hills to climbing the highest peaks, here is the best way to get started.
Learn To Navigate
The difference between mountaineering and other walks and hikes is the more challenging nature of the terrain and the need to ensure you have a plan for every scenario.
The best skills to start learning at home is how to navigate using a compass and a map, as you cannot always rely on GPS maps at colder temperatures or with gloves on.
A great way to start is to buy an ordinance survey map of your local area and try orienteering, travelling from one point to another just by following the map, compass and local landmarks.
The best place to start is simply to get out there. Have a look at local hiking or trekking routes and start on marked trails, bringing a backpack of equipment and getting used to walking with the weight for longer periods.
As you get used to harder, marked trails, try practising your navigation skills and leaving the marked trails, so long as you have a backup plan.
Practice Survival Skills On The Ground
Mountaineering expeditions will often take more than a day, so it is important to learn and practice a range of survival skills whilst at low altitude so they are mastered before you start scaling the peaks.
The most important skills to learn are how to erect your tent, build emergency shelters, cook outdoors, first aid skills, purifying water, tying knots and leaving no trace once you are finished camping.
This will also help you understand what you need to carry in your backpack for an expedition.
Get Used To Winter Camping
Camping is a fundamental part of mountaineering and one you can scale up in difficulty to ensure you can handle the high altitudes and low temperatures.
Start out by setting up camp near to your car so you can keep warm in it if there is an issue, and then hike about 30 minutes away and camp out there. Half an hour is far enough away to feel like you are away from civilisation but close enough in case of an actual emergency.
Once you feel ready, try to go on a backpacking trip that takes at least three days, to get used to having multiple days worth of equipment and food on your back, as well as knowing what you are likely to need during a mountaineering trip.
Practice Climbing Skills
Learn different styles of climbing, as well as how to belay and abseil. This will include scrambling, rock climbing, via ferrata climbing and placing climbing protection.. The more you get used to any skill, the more proficient you will be and the more you can rely on it in conditions that are less than ideal.