Watching the sunset high above on a mountaintop can be one of two things: breathtaking or horrifying. Being prepared for your trip, especially for your first time, is vital to your safety and survival.
Here at Alpine Club EDM, we have some long-time professionals that have a few helpful tricks and tips to prepare for your first time out in the mountains.
Starting from the Bottom
Climbing a mountain has many potentially dangerous and complicated scenarios. Start by researching an easy level course and learn what you need to be successful ahead of time. The worst thing you can do with Alpine mountain climbing is going into the situation blind and thinking that it will be a breeze.
Route finding, managing exposure, and weather reading are all valuable assets to have in your toolset before you begin your first trip. Find a route that’s a few grades below your leading limit when heading out to get the hang of things.
Find a Reliable Partner That You Get Along With
Much like any other relationship in the world, a climbing partner can make or break your first experience. Go on several test-runs on smaller rock-climbing challenges to get to know your buddy beforehand. If it’s someone that you trust in life already, that’s great! But it’s important to see how you two will problem-solve in potentially stressful situation.
You’re out there on the mountainside with your climbing partner for hours as you traverse the rocks. You’ll want a partner that is level-headed as well as easy to talk to. Someone who you can’t stand to be around after a few minutes may not be the best choice.
Perfect Your Time Management
Before heading out for the day, create a timetable to plan and track your progress. Know the time of the sunrise and sunset during the current portion of the year. You’ll also want to consider the length, grade, and elevation of the route. There’s a huge difference in travel time spent traversing the land versus how much you’ll actually be climbing.
The worst thing is to be stuck climbing while the sun is setting. Be careful not to cut it too close to sundown. You won’t want to get caught in the dark before you’re able to set up camp or get back to your vehicle.
Kick it Old School
While smartphones and your average GPS are excellent devices, these electronic tools tend to lose power in cold temperatures quickly. While bringing an external battery pack is always recommended on a climb, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared in case a device dies.
Also, with the dependency on cell service, the higher you climb, the more chance you’ll have errors in the information. Take a paper copy of the maps and laminate them or store them in a plastic bag for easy navigation.