So, you’ve decided to climb a mountain. This could end up being the best, or worst, decision of your life, depending on the outcome, of course.
Since you are new at this (if you’re not, stop reading, you probably know more than I do), I should probably tell you that there two ways that this venture could end up panning out, either with great success and an amazing feeling of achievement, or with harsh failure and most likely life-threatening injuries. In order to avoid the latter, we’ve compiled for you a very important tip list, a “how to climb a mountain for dummies” list, if you will.
Know what you’re up against.
Climbing a mountain is no walk in the park. It is extremely challenging, mentally and physically draining and entails many different risks and dangers. The first step to climbing a mountain is getting to know the mountain. What is the hike plan? What are the expected weather conditions? What are the risks involved? These are all questions that must be asked and answered before the first step on the mountain can be taken.
Being out-of-shape is not an option
Hiking up a mountain is physically demanding. Seriously. The constant upward hike will take a toll on your legs and lower-back. The heavy back-pack with water and supplies won’t be doing you any favors either. As you continue to ascent towards the summit, oxygen levels drop and breathing becomes no easy task as well. Basically, to climb a mountain is like taking a physical beat-down, so while you may be hoping for the best, prepare your body for the absolutely worst.
In order to achieve success and safely reach the summit, physical and mental preparation is key, but not enough. Having the right clothing and accessories is just as important. So what exactly should you pack for this adventure?
Hiking shoes, obviously.
Thermal pants and a thermal shirt.
Wind-breaking jacket and pants to go above.
It is very important that all layers be quick-dry, water resistant and not made from cotton.
As for accessories, a good hat to keep you warm and protect from the sun, as well as sunglasses, are important to have. Light-weight, heavy-duty tents are imperative for over-night hikes, along with a comfortable backpack that can contain whatever your climb may require. On a personal note, if there is one thing that I learned from my experience as a soldier, it is to change your socks, as often as you can, so feel free to pack a ton of pairs!
Flexibility is key
So, you’ve meticulously planned your hike from day 1 all the way to the summit, thinking and over-thinking about every detail along the way. Only one problem, nature never takes your plans into account. Mountain weather, especially the higher you climb, can drastically change in the blink of an eye. One minute the sun is beating down your neck, the next, it’s raining and you’re starting to freeze. Also, you don’t really have complete control over injuries that may occur, to you or your climbing partners. This is why flexibility is key. Learn to adapt, improvise and, if necessary, completely scrap your original plan.
What goes up must come down
After a long, physically and mentally draining journey, you’ve finally made it safely to the summit. The sense of achievement and pride is overwhelming, you’re officially on top of the world. Along with this great sensation of achievement, exhaustion starts creeping in, adrenaline starts to wear down, replaced by muscle pain and aching joints. All of a sudden, a thought comes to mind, “how am I supposed to get down now?”. Well, the same way you got up, by foot. Yes, as is true with everything else on this planet, what goes up must come down. This is why it is extremely important to pace yourself, not to get caught up in the moment and to remember that the climb up is only half the journey.
Now, with our help, you are officially ready to begin your climb. Meet you at the summit!