How to Get into Mountain Climbing: The Newbie’s Intro


Mountain climbing is one of the most exciting outdoor activities available and for newbies who want to get into it, this is a good introduction.

How do you start mountain climbing? The first step would be to choose between rock climbing and mountain climbing since these two are not the same. Afterward, you can enroll in a training class or start a DIY climbing regimen. The former will provide you with the basic information that you need but the latter gives you more freedom of choice.

How you start your mountain climbing journey will have a huge impact on your experience and a bad one can lead to unfortunate circumstances like injuries or death.

Beginning Mountain Climbing

If you are intent in becoming a mountain climber, there are a few things that you will need to do first. One of them is to research what that activity entails and why I’m assuming you are here reading this guide. Once you have a good grasp of what mountain climbing involved, it’s time to assess your physical capabilities.

Make no mistake about it. Ascending tall peaks will require you to be reasonably fit because of how even the mildest slopes can be challenging for the body. At the very least, you should be able to climb a set of stairs without breaking into a sweat. If this is the case, the first order of business would be to get you fit enough to accomplish a less challenging climb.

The goals for doing this are simple, as well, which are to:

·         Make sure that you are fit enough for the climb

·         Discover any issues with your physical condition

·         Provide your body with the means to resist injury

·         Reduce the risks associated with the climb

·         Enable you to respond to emergencies

If you are not physically fit, even if you do manage the climb, you will be vulnerable to the dangers that come with the activity. For a more complete picture of what you would need to do to get into mountain climbing, you can refer to the steps included in the table below:

StepsDescription
1. Get fitStart doing cardio and strength training exercises
2. Train or take classes for climbingDo some simple hikes through elevated landscapes or take classes directly
3. Equip yourselfGet some gear, supplies, and clothing appropriate for climbing
4. Choose an easy climbFind a mountain that is relatively easy to summit
5. Make the climbGo to the site, ascend to reach the top, and descend
6. Record or remember your experienceWrite down the details of your experience if you can or just try to remember everything
7. Choose a harder climbEscalate the difficulty of your next climb
8. Rinse and repeatRepeat step one

Now, it’s worth pointing out that these steps are predicated on the assumption that you have already done your homework. With that being the case, you should have no problems understanding any of the terms and the practices that come with mountain climbing even as you prepare for it. With that being the case, we can proceed to discuss the steps themselves.

Getting Fit – The reasons for you getting fit have already been brought up, but how exactly do you go about doing this? Not all forms of exercise will be useful for climbing after all. Can you imagine swimming as a preparatory course for an ascent? This is why you need some context with regard to the kinds of things that you will need to do.

To start with, you need a ton of cardio exercises. This is meant to train your heart muscles more than anything else because a weak heart will be a liability when you climb. This means jogging, sprinting, and HIIT training. Anything that gets your heart used to extreme circumstances will be helpful once you make that climb.

You will also want to throw in some strengthening exercises, but not to the point of bodybuilding. You will mostly want to focus on compound weight training and bodyweight training. Pushups, squats, pull-ups, that kind of thing.

The goal is not to make you strong enough to lift double your weight. The goal is to make you strong enough to carry your own bodyweight with ease as well as the heavy gear that you are likely to be carrying. If you can focus on developing endurance muscles, this would be even better for you.

Training – Next is the actual training for the climb, which is not the same as getting physically fit in terms of the goals. This is basically where you get used to the motions of climbing uphill for the majority of your trek. After all, no matter how many rounds you go with the stair master, it won’t be the same as walking on natural terrain.

What you want to achieve here is to have your body get used to the uneven surfaces, slippery landscape, and risky footing that usually comes with climbing. You will often be dealing with mud, loose gravel, snow, wet grass, and soft earth when you climb, after all. You can’t get any of that when you are just training in the gym.

On the other hand, you could always enroll in a mountain climbing class where the instructors can just walk you through everything that you would need to know about the activity. They are relatively cheap if we are talking about beginner courses and they are the most expedient methods of actually getting used to the activity.

What’s more, you will be getting the knowledge and perspective of experienced climbers, which is far better than whatever you can do just by doing your own thing. This is just something that’s worth considering if you are actually serious about mountain climbing.

Equipment – If you are going to climb a mountain, it only makes sense that you should be equipped for the task. To that end, you should start gearing up for the particular climb that you would want to do. You should understand, though, that different types of mountain climbing activities might require you to bring different pieces of equipment.

For example, in general, mountain climbing activities where the goal is to simply follow an established trail until you get to the very top, you won’t really need that much equipment. A walking stick, the right climbing outfit, and some supplies would often do the trick. This applies even more so to climbs that won’t take more than a few hours.

If the climb will go on for days, you will need to bring a tent and some sleeping gear, along with cooking implements. However, this only really applies to climbs that are of the easiest levels. Once you need to do some rock face scaling, you will now need to bring some rock climbing shoes, ropes, anchors, slings, harnesses, and a helmet, to start with.

This is why it is very important for you to do some research beforehand so that you can decide exactly what can of a climb you would want to do. Naturally, since you are just starting out, you would want to choose the easiest type of climbing. This will allow you to only make the minimum amount of expense for your first trip, thus saving you from unnecessary costs.

First Climb – Speaking of your first climb, it is only understandable that you might be dreaming of the most difficult mountaineering conquests when you are just starting out. However, it cannot be emphasized enough how important it is for you to start with the easiest climb that you can find. Of course, it needs to be an actual mountain, but it should not be that dangerous.

The reason for this is to have you get used to the motions and the conditions that are involved in climbing mountains. If you have never done it before, you might not be able to understand exactly what goes into this practice. It’s not about just going up a moderately elevated natural formation. A lot of things change once you get high enough off the ground.

The air pressure, for example, will drop incrementally as you ascend. This means that there will be various changes in your body’s fluids, which may take some getting used to. The higher up you go, the more extreme these changes will be and they will eventually become quite overwhelming. You need to give your body the chance to get accustomed to this.

If you have to throw in other challenges associated with mountain climbing on top of those changes in your body, you will likely have quite the unpleasant time of it. One of the reasons why a lot of novice climbers quit after their first time is because they tried too hard too fast. Take it slow and you will have a more pleasant experience that will benefit you long term.

Ascent – Once you have chosen the mountain that you are going to climb, which offers the least amount of challenge for you, it’s time to begin the ascent. Now, there are a few things that you are going to have to keep in mind here. First is that this is meant to be a learning experience for you more than anything else with regard to what goes into the act of climbing mountains.

You can certainly do some sightseeing if you want, and the mere act of climbing a mountain is quite the exhilarating experience all on its own. However, the main goal is still to take in the surroundings and the effects that the ascent has on your body. It would be unreasonable to expect that you will master mountain climbing on your first try. However, it’s more educational than theory.

Simply being on that mountain can teach you more about what you can expect for when you do the next climb. You will be able to understand many of the details of mountain climbing better than just reading about it since you will be letting your body learn along with your brain. In the end, you will start to develop an instinct appropriate for climbing mountains.

This can be more important than all the research in the world. After all, there are some things about mountain climbing that can be difficult to express into words and are best learned through action.

Record – On that note, just because you are meant to learn about the experience of climbing through your body, this does not mean that taking notes is not worthwhile. If you can, it would be great if you can basically jot down everything that you learned during the climb and how it differed from what you expected.

This can serve as a reference point for you going forward since things are bound to change as you become more and more used to the activity. It goes without saying that the more challenging climbs will also offer different perspectives that you might appreciate. So this is just something that it is worth considering.

On that note, if writing things down is too much of a hassle for you, then simply remembering as much as you can, will have to do. The point is simply for you to not disregard whatever you are seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling when you are climbing. All of that will be important for when you are doing your future climbs.

You can only benefit when you pay attention to the smallest details, as well. Things like the heat of the sun, the sound of the birds, the strength of the breeze, and the chill of the air can be excellent indicators that will serve you well when you climb. You certainly don’t need to become like an expert hunter or mountaineer, but the more tools you have in your arsenal, the better.

Next Climb – With your first climb done, your next item on the list would be to choose your next destination. Naturally, you will need to up the ante a bit by choosing a more challenging mountain. Not anything too crazy, mind you. Just one with steeper slopes, longer trails, or moderately more harrowing climates. The goal is still the same as the first but with some additions.

The point of the next climb is to simply get your body in the right state of readiness. It happens often enough when gym rats hit a wall when they plateau. The same goes for climbers who only really stick with the easy trails. You need to constantly challenge your body so that it starts anticipating those times when you have to put in more effort.

Doing this will get you to a point where you can basically adjust to any climb regardless of how challenging it is or the conditions that come with it. You won’t automatically be able to do it with ease, but you won’t have as hard of a time with it. The task will also become much more satisfying once you are able to accomplish it.

Speaking of which, it’s just more satisfying for you to keep on overcoming mountains that are more difficult than the last. This way, you can say with certainty that you are improving since you have tangible results to prove it. As far as factors that will encourage you to keep climbing goes, this is one of the most essential.

Repeat – With all of that said, the rest of the things that you really need to do is just repeat the cycle and I do mean repeat it. You will need to do additional research whenever you are done climbing with the new information that you managed to get as a means of choosing a new course for study. You can never learn enough about climbing, after all.

You will also need to train in accordance to the difficulty of your next climb. Sometimes, you might even need to do some additional preparations to get ready for certain eventualities such as altitude sickness. Shifting weather conditions and new obstacles will also need to be taken into consideration when you are training.

For example, you will eventually encounter climbing treks where you will have to scale ice walls. If you have never done that before, you are not advised to try it on the real thing for the first time. You have to train for that along with the equipment that you are going to be using. You can’t just look up at a glacier and think you can climb it without any prior preparations.

This goes doubly true for when your goal is the tallest peaks in the world, all of which present their own unique challenges. The more difficult the climb, the more time you need to take in order to get ready for it. Otherwise, you will be risking your life more than you need to.

How Do You Learn Mountain climbing?

If you are intent on learning how to climb mountains, there are two main routes that are open to you. One is to take a class, the benefits of which have already been explained in the earlier sections. The other is to simply do it yourself and conduct the necessary research, preparations, and training. Both have their pros and cons.

In the case of taking a class, for example, you basically get the benefit of being taught by qualified professionals. Sure, you are paying money for it, but you will be freed from the anxiety of wondering if what you are doing is right or wrong. There will be somebody there who will correct you on the spot so that you can know for sure that what you are doing makes sense.

On that note, it also can’t be denied that it is possible for you to learn about mountain climbing as you go. After conducting the necessary research, you can then try to apply it by doing some preliminary climbing excursions. The results might be slower than if you were to go with a class, but you can be confident in the skills that you gained through your own efforts.

At the end of the day, the choices will be up to you. After weighing the risks against the benefits, you will likely be able to come to the conclusion that would suit your needs the most. Just remember that you are aiming to improve yourself, either way

Why Do Mountain Climbing?

Now that you know how you can start doing mountain climbing, you might be wondering why you would want to do that, in the first place. To be honest, there can be a thousand reasons for it, with climbers having a different one from the other. As such, you can only really focus on the general benefits of the activity if you are trying to make a decision.

To start with, mountain climbing is undoubtedly one of the healthiest forms of physical excursions that you can get involved in. You are basically getting in touch with nature, which is good for your mind and spirit, and you will be constantly moving your body. There is no denying the benefits that this can then have on your muscles, bones, and organs.

You will also constantly have that feeling of accomplishment when you are climbing a mountain, which is essential for your mind. Having that flood of happy hormones while being outdoors simply cannot be discounted in terms of the benefits that it can impart to you. Then there is the matter of being away from the confining effects of the city.

Being able to get away from your busy life and the people who are always pushing you down can be unbelievably refreshing. Climbing mountains has even become a favorite pastime for office folks since it allows them to have a radical change of environment from the one that they are usually immersed in. It allows them to recharge in a healthy manner.

Related Questions

How to Choose Mountains for Beginners?

The best way to choose mountains for a beginner to climb is to take a look at the technical difficulties, the elevation, and the availability of trails. A mountain would need to be relatively short, well-traveled, and managed in order for it to be acceptable as a beginner’s first climb.

Is Kilimanjaro Harder Than Everest?

Kilimanjaro is actually one of the easiest mountains to climb with the only real issue being its elevation. It doesn’t pose too many technical difficulties and the availability of porters and guides makes it almost a breeze. As such, beginners will likely find this mountain to be quite a good choice.

Dangers of Mountain Climbing

So, you have now learned how to climb a mountain and are reasonably confident that you can do so. The next question, then, is what you should watch out for. And the frank answer is everything. You will need to watch out for absolutely everything while you are mountain climbing.

Before you stress out, though, this is not actually as difficult as it sounds. You won’t have to stay so vigilant that you can’t ever relax. Simply put, you just need to understand that there are going to be certain threats and dangers in certain areas of the mountain that you will need to be aware of.

These dangers will vary and will depend on a lot of factors, including the environment, the wildlife, the climate, the weather, and the terrain. You might even need to watch out for other climbers or the mess that they might leave behind, which can then attract predators. As long as you are aware of these things, though, you should be fine.

Everything from falling, to slipping, to freezing, and getting mauled can all be prevented as long as you know about them and what to watch out for. Vigilance is only meant for the unknown.

Consequences of Poor Climbing Foundations

Now, assuming that you did not do any kind of preparation to climb a mountain and just went ahead with an ascent. What exactly is going to happen to you if you do this? To start with, you are going to experience a lot of unpleasantness that can come in many forms. What’s more, they can all come at you at once.

It would be no exaggeration to say that the lack of preparations can lead to your death when climbing a mountain. However, even if you don’t die, you could end up in a pretty sorry state. You could get injured because your body could not handle the strain. You could get sick because your body could not adjust fast enough. You could also get torn up by animals that were attracted to you thanks to your careless actions.

There are literally hundreds of ways that you could have a very bad time of it when you are climbing without the right foundations. Fitness, training, knowledge, equipment, supplies, and experience are all necessary to make climbing as wonderful of a time for you as possible. Forgoing all of that is just the height of arrogance. 

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