How To Start Mountain Climbing featured image

How To Start Mountain Climbing?

Are you interested in trying out a leisure activity such as mountain climbing but wondering how to start climbing mountains? If yes, I just might have the answers you need.

The activity of ascending to high points in mountainous terrain is known as mountain climbing. This climbing is typically done for fun and excitement.

Mountain climbing is a leisure sport activity involving reaching or trying to reach peaks on steep terrains or steep slopes just to enjoy the climb. The phrase ‘mountain climbing’ is also known as mountaineering.

Mountain climbing only requires basic trekking up a hill, although it may also require advanced technical knowledge and the use of essential gear or equipment like ropes, crampons, ice tools, and protective mountaineering gear (i.e. helmets, anchors, belay devices).

In this blog post, I will share with you a few steps to take on getting started with mountain climbing while sharing all that mountain climbing entails and its dangers to help you prepare yourself adequately for the whole idea behind the activity of mountain climbing.

What Is Mountain Climbing?

What Is Mountain Climbing

Mountain climbing is simply the ascending and descending of a mountain face.

It can be as simple as going up a slope, or it could need highly technical abilities and the use of equipment like ropes, crampons, ice tools, and protective clothing (i.e. helmets, anchors, belay devices).

Mountain climbing is the perfect example of the thrill of putting one's fortitude, skill, and strength to the test in a hazardous circumstance.

In other words, mountain climbing is a method of ascending steep slopes, frequently in the mountains of Asia, Africa, and America.

Generally, the activity of mountain climbing is known as mountaineering. Mountaineering uses a variety of techniques such as scrambling, mixed climbing, and alpine climbing.

The activity of mountaineering simply entails moving both vertically and horizontally on mountain terrain. The demands and difficulty of the terrain typically determine the style and abilities utilized when climbing mountains.

If you want to know more about What is Mountaineering, make sure you check our in-depth article here!

Types of mountain climbing/mountaineering

Different mountain climbing types require diverse techniques utilized to scale mountains.

These types of mountains climbing offer a variety of styles and techniques that demand a variety of skill sets.

This implies that you will need to know and master the skill sets needed for each type as a beginner.

Here are common types of mountains climbing and what it entails.

1.    Alpine rock-climbing techniques

Alpine rock-climbing techniques

Alpine climbing is a type of mountain climbing that essentially involves the act of rock climbing in the mountains.

The type of mountains climbed in this type is those of lower elevation with less difficulty.

Rock climbing often requires the need to use ropes, anchor materials, trad gear, belay devices, and harnesses.

2.    Scrambling rock climbing

Scrambling rock climbing

This is another form of mountain climbing that involves rock climbing but this is done without the use of ropes. The only technical mountaineering gear required is a helmet.

The mountains climbed in this form of mountain climbing are either tall or short mountains that only require a short duration of time such as just the afternoon of a day to reach the summit of the mountain.

3.    Glaciated peaks climbing

Glaciated peaks climbing

This is a special form of mountain climbing that requires special knowledge of glacier travel.

The equipment needed is team roped systems, snow anchors, crampons, and ice axes. The mountains climbed contain snow and ice moving along a glacier path.

4.    High-altitude mountain climbing

High-altitude mountain climbing

High altitude mountaineering is a type of mountain climbing that involves climbing mountains of over 18000 feet and at air thin.

Folks that engage in this type of mountain climbing are those who love heights.  Many of these high-altitude mountains require ice climbing, rock climbing, glacier travel, or snow climbing skills.

What Does Mountain Climbing Entails?

Mountain climbing requires spending long hours carefully climbing and descending a mountain while even carrying a hefty backpack of basic accessories and food.

This makes mountain climbing a very physically and mentally taxing activity.

Therefore, to engage in such activities as mountaineering or rock climbing, as a beginner, you must possess technical knowledge, such as how to use an ice axe and how to save a climber from a crevasse, before you can begin.

Mountaineers or mountain climbers need to be able to walk for long periods without getting tired. The hours spent hiking on the trails of a mountain's lower slopes are some of the most challenging of a climb.

The satisfaction of the whole activity of mountain climbing comes from the sense of accomplishment of reaching the peak or summit of the mountain at the end of the trek. This makes the effort worthwhile.

For the majority of mountain climbers, the joys of mountaineering come from more than just reaching the summit; they also come from the physical and spiritual triumphs attained through constant learning, arduous personal effort, and encounters with the grandeur of nature.

A mountaineering adventure's actual success and the main objective, aside from summiting a mountain or finishing a ridge climb, is successfully navigating every danger that arises.

Pieces of Equipment Required for Mountain Climbing

Equipment For Mountain Climbing

A lot of equipment is needed by mountain climbers for mountain climbing. Some of such equipment are ropes, cleated boots, heavy socks, warm and windproof clothes, a compass, a map, a backpack, matches, a knife, a flashlight, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

You will also need to bring a lot of the same gear that campers and hikers do. If your climb will last all night, food, drink, a tent, and a sleeping bag are required.

Other pieces of equipment more specifically used for mountain climbing are:

1.     Ice axe

Ice axe for mountain climbing

An ice axe can tie a rope, carve steps in ice, investigate crevasses, and aid with balancing when climbing mountains.

2.     Crampons


Crampons are sets of spikes fastened to the bottoms of boots that enable people to climb and walk on ice or ice-capped mountains

3.     Pitons

Pitons equipment mountain climbing

A piton is an iron spike with a ring at the end intended to be driven into an ice or rock crevice to provide support. Pitons are attached to carabiners or snap rings, and a rope is threaded through them. These facilitate mountain climbing.

4.     Carabiners


A carabiner is a metal loop or ring latched into an anchor through which the rope can be dragged for essential safety factors during mountain climbing.

5.     Chock

Chock equipment mountain climbing

A chock is a small metal piece tied to the wire cord or rope and inserted into a fissure in the rock by hand to shield the cord or rope.

6.     Bolt

Bolt equipment mountain climbing

The bolt is a metal rod bashed into a hole dug by the climber and to whose visible, machined end a hanger is affixed. This provides an additional level of stability and safety during a mountaineering trip.

7.     Helmets


Climbing helmets are important especially on when climbing to a very high altitude. However, In some cases, they can be undesirable since they may obstruct mobility or vision.

8.     Bottled oxygen

Bottled oxygen

High-altitude mountaineers might need to bring bottled oxygen with them. The air at high altitudes on the mountain has less oxygen which makes it difficult to breathe.

Potential Dangers of Mountain Climbing

Mountain climbing is a risky activity. Even if a mountain is regarded as "safe" and is frequented by both young and old tourists, there will always be a chance of getting hurt. So what perils do mountain climbers face?

Lack of knowledge is the main risk when climbing mountains. Environmental risks are unavoidable during mountain climbing. But frequently, it is human action's perils that produce tragic outcomes.

This does not imply that you should never attempt to climb a mountain. Or stay away from specific mountains after learning about previous mishaps. You should be aware of potential threats in the world and make yourself ready for them.

Here are 10 potential hazards of mountain climbing

1.     Extreme temperatures

2.     Equipment failure

3.     Incorrect mindset

4.     Bad weather

5.     Dehydration

6.     Natural disasters

7.     High altitude

8.     Lack of visibility

9.     Getting lost

10.   Falling

Getting Started with Mountain Climbing: Tips for Beginners

Tips For Beginners Mountain Climbing

Different skill sets are needed for different types of climbing. It takes years to develop into a well-rounded mountaineer who is capable of navigating any terrain.

Beginning mountaineering first feels really intimidating. However, after a few years of experience, you will have developed advanced rock-climbing abilities.

Keep an open mind and let your passion for the mountains determine the kinds of climbs you want to attempt.

Now let’s look at the simple steps you can take to start your first mountaineering adventure or mountain climbing exercise on an easy path.

Ten (10) steps to take to start mountain climbing

Here are 10 simple steps to take to kick-start your mountain climbing adventure

1. Decide which mountain to climb

The first step in getting started with mountain climbing is deciding which mountain you want to climb.

This will help you to gain knowledge about the basic mountaineering skills and equipment required for climbing such mountains to prepare you adequately for the mountain climbing activity.

In deciding which mountain, you want to climb to get started with mountain climbing, follow these guidelines;

·        Create a list of mountains. Remember to start with smaller mountains first.

·        Find and choose a mountain near you.

·        Choose a mountain that is not so technical. This means as a beginner, don’t go for high-altitude mountains at the initial stage.

·        Progress to bigger and more technical climbs as you gain experience and skills.

However, as a beginner mountaineer, you should know that the type of mountain climbing will determine the number of hours of training, gaining knowledge, planning, and preparing that you will put in.

2. Select and research in depth the specific route you are planning to climb

Your research step is crucial because it will show you what equipment, abilities, and fitness level are required to successfully complete the trip as well as what obstacles you will meet.

You are prepared to go on to the planning stage of your preparation once you have exhaustively researched your climb.

3. Decide when to go mountain climbing

Decide when to go mountain climbing

As a beginner, knowing when to go and the duration of your mountaineering trip is very important.

It is beneficial for you to plan your first mountain climbs for periods within the late spring, summer, and early autumn if you're a beginner.

This is because at this time, you will need less clothing and gear for your climb as a result, and you won't have to struggle with the more difficult snowy and icy circumstances.

Additionally, climbing is not advised in regions with stifling summers because doing so raises the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Also, it is crucial to plan your mountaineering adventure at least two to three months away from when you intend to go to enable you to get the adequate mountaineering class to prepare for the task.

4. Decide whether to climb with a guide or with a team of other climbers

The type of mountain you decide to climb will help you to know and decide whom you can climb with. Some mountain climbs require a mountaineering guide or mountaineering friends while some don’t.

However, I strongly recommend that as a beginner on your first time climbing a mountain, you do so with a guide or a couple of competent friends.

Although there are many mountains where guides are not required, it is always helpful to have an experienced companion by your side when you first begin.

Guides have a wealth of expertise and experience to draw from because they have frequently climbed and descended the same mountain hundreds of times.

Climbing with other climbers is a cost-effective approach to learning climbing abilities and techniques while giving you the chance to interact with additional people.

5. Decide on the budget you intend to spend for your mountaineering adventure

Decide on the budget

Knowing your budget is very important as numerous decisions you make along the route may be influenced by your willingness to spend what you are willing to spend on it.

Therefore, it is important to decide on the big items on the budget such as accommodation, mountaineering training fee, transport, feeding, mountaineering courses or books, mountaineering gear such as mountaineering boots and attire, etc.

6. Start mountaineering training

Of course, the more physically fit you are, the more fun climbing mountains will be for you.

Although, you don't need to be exceptionally athletic or fit to start mountaineering. Taking it slow and steady will help you climb your first few mountains.

However, starting training ahead for the mountain climbing adventure is important to prepare you adequately and get into the form of what you are about to engage in. Try to begin your training three months before your climb.

Registering for mountaineering courses and engaging in some basic mountaineering exercises are crucial training steps that help you build strength to climb a mountain.

7. Learn and pick up basic survival skills

Learn basic survival skills

It is no doubt that mountain climbing is a dangerous activity. Therefore, it is important to learn some skills that will help to weather the storms during this activity.

This is why it is very important for you to start mountaineering classes or training where you get to learn some basic mountaineering skill sets from guides, porters, and even other climbers.

As a beginner, you need to learn and pick up some basic survival skills in terms of how to navigate your way, first aid during injuries, how to identify poisonous plants, how to pitch a tent and many more.

8. Learn basic technical skills

Although there are some mountains that you can climb without having some technical skills how to climb, it is beneficial for you to learn the basic technicality of mountaineering.

As discussed earlier, there are different forms of mountain climbing and these forms require unique technical skill sets to adequately engage in them.

Therefore, it is important for you before you start mountain climbing to learn some technical skills involve.

The best way to learn these basic technical skills is to take a mountaineering course that covers information on the basic tools and their usage, e.g. knots, ropes, and hardware, how to protect yourself, and how to protect others.

And even give you hands-on climbing practice before the main climb.

9. Decide on what to wear: Shop for your equipment, gear, and attire for the trip

Decide on what to wear

When you engage in the basic planning phase involving decisions on when to go climbing, whom to climb with, the mountain to climb, and even your budget plan, you will be well informed as to what to decide to wear.

Shopping for your mountaineering equipment, gear, attire, and boots ahead of your trip is very crucial to your success rate.

You will likely need attire such as a cap or hat, gloves, long-sleeved breathable shirts, rain jackets, pairs of socks, pants for stretches or squats, hiking boots, undergarments, and sleeping attire.

10. Begin your preparation – Start packing your bags

Now that you know all that you need to know about the mountaineering adventure through training and you have decided on the big items on the mountain to climb, whom to climb, etc., that have informed you of what equipment, gear, and attire to buy, it is time to start packing your bags.

Note that it is good to use tiny bags or ziplock to compartmentalize your belongings when packing. This is useful for repacking and searching for items.

Make sure to pack your heavier stuff as close to your back as you can, lower down in the bag. This keeps your center of gravity lower and aids in maintaining balance when climbing.

Frequently Asked Questions - How To Start Mountain Climbing?

Do you have to be fit to climb a mountain?

While trekking is often done at considerably lower altitudes than mountaineering, certain technical routes call for you to traverse passes that are as high as 17,000–18,000 feet.

Average physical fitness is sufficient to begin mountaineering. You shouldn't have any issues with your heart, lungs, or back if you want to do mountaineering.

How long should a beginner do mountain climbers?

Beginners should aim for the thirty-second mark, while intermediates should aim for the minute mark.

And all of your fitness enthusiasts can try to push themselves to finish in two minutes.

Just so you know, the longer you hold the stance, the more fat you will burn. Your entire body is worked on by mountain climbers.

What is the basic training for mountain climbing?

The basic training for mountain climbing is selecting and engaging in some workout exercise that every muscle that mountaineers frequently need to strengthen.

Mountaineering exercises such as the back squat, front squat, pull-ups, push press, legless rope climbs, and deadlifts.

Are you interested in Mountaineering Workout Plans For Beginners? Our articles will show you what will work best and some helpful tips. Check it out!

Where do I start with mountain climbing?

Attend a class. Nothing surpasses taking a course, but the "mountain bible," Freedom of the Hills, is an excellent place to start.

If you have climbing buddies, they can also teach you the fundamentals. Going out with a guide puts you in the mountains, and provides you with invaluable personal experience, and on-the-spot feedback. 

Final Words – How To Start Mountain Climbing?

Mountain climbing is a more all-encompassing sport. Putting one foot in front of the other while climbing steep slopes with a rope and other rock-climbing equipment connected is a discipline of mountaineering.

You need to master the fundamentals of climbing and complete several introductory courses and tests to become a mountaineer.

However, the art of mountaineering takes time to perfect. To be prepared to climb the larger, higher, and more difficult terrains and call oneself a mountaineer, one must undergo extensive training, education, and experience.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all method for mountaineering, understanding the stages of the process will help you prepare for your trip.

You need to first decide on the big items on the mountain to climb, specific mountain routes to follow, when to go climbing, and whom to climb with. After which, you then go get training in mountaineering to learn some technical skills and basic survival skills, and all the necessary equipment required for a successful mountaineering adventure.

Also, planning and exercising your body ahead are important to help you build strength for the trip.

Ryan S. Mills
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