Complete Guide: How to Prepare for Your 1st Mountain Climb


So, you are getting ready for the first climb and now you are thinking about what you should do so that you first mountain will not be your last.

How do you prepare for your first climb? The first priority would be to toughen you up with exercise. The next is to get the right gear for the climb that you are about to embark on. After that comes the training for the climb, which can consist of lessons about what to expect and what to do during the excursion.

Whatever the case may be, preparation is extremely important in order to prevent injuries and maximize your enjoyment of your first mountain climb.

Preparing for Your First Mountain Climb

If you are going on your first climb, preparation is going to be your first priority. If you are not ready to climb, then there will be no climb happening. Period.

This is non-negotiable and trying to climb a mountain without adequate preparation is just tempting fate. On that note, what form will these preparations take, exactly? To start with, the following would be worth considering:

·         Accumulate information

·         Preparing your body

·         Stockpiling clothes, food, and tools

·         Looking for the perfect mountain

·         Finding a group to join

·         Scheduling your climbing trip

Suffice it to say, there can be a lot riding on your preparations for your climbing trip, especially on the issue of where you are planning on going and when. After all, there are certain times of the year where climbing is not recommended in some parts of the world. So it would definitely be worthwhile to remember that along with all the items in the table below:

PreparationDescription
ResearchGathering data on climbing, mountains, and the risks and requirements involved
FitnessGetting physically fit enough for the climb
TrainingBecoming accustomed to the climb
DietShifting the diet to prepare for the climb
EquipmentGathering the necessary tools and gear
ClothingPreparing the clothes, accessories, bags, and footwear for climbing
Target MountainFinding the right mountain to climb
GroupDeciding whether to join a group and which group
TimingChoosing the right time to climb

At this point, the importance of preparation has probably already been hammered into your head enough times, but you can throw in the importance of how you do so in there too. There are different ways for you to go about getting ready for a climb, after all, and not all of them are equal. In fact, depending on your circumstances, some stages might not even be necessary.

So, it is important to be flexible when discussing matters related to preparations and the corresponding conditions that come with them. If you are able to deal with the particular changes in your own case as compared to those of others, you won’t have to waste time with steps that you did not need to take.

Research – The first thing that you absolutely must do before beginning your climb is to conduct some research into the activity and everything to do with it. Pay attention to even the smallest details and don’t dismiss anything even if it seems unimportant or confusing. After all, mountain climbing can refer to a whole host of activities and what you are picturing in your head when you talk about it might not be the same as reality.

For the most part, you need to understand the specific details about what makes mountain climbing what it is. How it differs from other outdoor activities like hiking, trekking, camping, or wall climbing. You also need to understand what dangers come with the activity that you will need to watch out for.

You certainly don’t want to be caught unprepared on that front. Getting caught in a blizzard while climbing a mountain without adequate preparation will spell a very bad time for you. This goes double for mountains that have predators around them like wolves and bears. And those are just the obvious dangers.

Fitness – The next point on the agenda has to do with fitness. Specifically, the kind of physical condition that you would need to be in so that you will actually be able to climb a mountain. Make no mistake; this will not be like climbing a flight of stairs. You will be fighting gravity the whole way and with the added weight of your equipment, you better believe that you need to be fit.

More than fit, though, you also need to be strong. You need to have enough strength to not only pull your own bodyweight but also of pounds of gear and clothing. So you will want to focus on exercise that will be able to help you on that front. Giving your cardiovascular system a boost would be to your benefit, as well.

Apart from the importance of your strength, endurance, and general robustness, your mind will also need to be in good condition. You will not be able to climb that well if you are mentally disturbed or if you are stressed for any reason that could affect your excursion. More than that, you need to make sure that you are psychologically sound and are not a threat to yourself or others.

Training – If you are fit enough to attempt a climb, you might think that you are ready to go. This is not necessarily the case. You might need to get some training done in the form of simulations and classes. Climbing a mountain only sounds easy and it won’t be until you actually do it that you can appreciate the difficulty that comes with the task. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate this issue.

By joining a class, you can be taught the basics of mountain climbing by experts and you can be guided with regards to the various aspects of the activity that might not be known to you. You can also borrow from their experience by asking some questions or asking for some tips on things you might be having some difficulty with.

You could also just go on hikes with the main purpose being to traverse elevated landscapes. Find places that do slope upwards but do not go nearly high enough to be called a mountain. A hill would work, as well, so try to train using those if they are available to you. Just remember that this is just one aspect of the training and climbing involves more than walking.

Diet – The next point on the list is your diet, which will need to change a bit or a lot, depending on what it is. If you eat fairly healthy with a good balance of proteins, fibers, fat, and greens, then the only real shift that you will need to make is to add some dried fruits and nuts. However, the changes will be bigger if you are more used to eating fast food items.

If most of your diet is comprised of processed stuff from many of the major chains available, then you have got to make some radical adjustments. This is because the food that you will be eating in the mountains will largely differ in terms of quality and components. Doing this is mostly for the purpose of getting your stomach accustomed to such items.

You cannot afford to have an upset stomach while you are ascending a dangerous peak and this is likely what will happen if you suddenly started eating dried meats, fruits, berries, and nuts on a regular basis. Beans, packaged food, and similar consumables will also become daily fare. If you are not used to eating those, they can do some damage to your digestive system.

Equipment – With regards to your equipment, there are a few things that will need to be brought up first. To start with, the gear and tools that you will be bringing with you will be dictated by the kind of climb that you are planning on doing. If it is something similar to a hike where all you really do is follow a trail until you get to the top, you won’t have to bring that much stuff.

In fact, it can even be argued that the less you bring, the better for those kinds of circumstances since you would be preserving your energy. However, if you are planning on climbing a highly technical mountain with a ton of ledges, rock faces, ice walls, uneven terrain, and crossing over ravines, this is a different matter.

Then again, since this is your first climb, you should not be doing so dangerous climbs yet, anyway. As such, the equipment that you are likely to bring for your first excursion is a walking stick, a water canteen, and depending on how long you will be gone, some camping gear. Once again, this will all depend on the circumstances surrounding your climb.

Clothing – Same with the question of the equipment, the clothes that you will need to prepare for your climb will be dictated by your target activity. That is to say, if you are planning on ascending a mountain that is surrounded by ice and sees frequent blizzards, then you had better cover up from head to toe. If you are climbing in a more temperate area, though, thinner clothes would be the norm.

This is where the research that you need will come in very handy. You will be able to find out just how cold the peaks of the mountains that you are going to will be. You can then compare that to the temperatures that you usually experience in your surroundings. If the top doesn’t really get that much colder than your area, your regular winter clothes will suffice.

Then there is the matter of mountains that are not really tall enough to offer much of an issue with cold temperatures. For mountains like these, you won’t need to prepare thick clothing at all. In fact, you would be far better off going with breathable clothes that are made of light materials that are sewed tough. There are also cases where you need to find a middle ground to work with.

Target – With all of that out of the way, it’s time to talk about the actual mountain that you are going to climb and it will need to be one that you can actually handle for your first time. Remember that mountains have personalities and their own difficulty ratings. Some mountains are a cakewalk, relatively speaking, while others can literally be hell on earth.

Mountains with high technical difficulties should be avoided until you become skilled enough at climbing to actually be able to merit such a challenge. If you are unable to do even basic rock climbing, you can forget about mountains that will require you to scale walls and the like. If possible, you should also avoid mountains that require you to traverse natural ledges.

It would be no exaggeration to say that the choice of your first mountain to climb can impact your future in mountain climbing. You could sustain injuries that could follow you for the rest of your life, so you really don’t want to make your choice based on pride. It just is not worth the risk and you really don’t have to prove anything if you are just starting out.

Group – Another point that needs to be made here is that you are not advised to climb a mountain on your own without any backup. You just are not. You will be risking life and limb when you are ascending those peaks and no matter how easy it may be on paper; you never know if anything should happen. When it does, it would be good to have other people with you to help.

Even experienced mountaineers rarely ever venture out alone if they can help it because they understand just how dangerous these natural formations can be. You will never be able to predict what will happen next and you better believe that you want someone watching your back. This goes doubly true when you are resting, eating, or relieving yourself.

The question now is how you are going to join a group, with some of the most common options being finding one or creating one. If you are going to create a group, the easiest people to take with you are friends or family who might be interested in going. If you want to join a group, there are tons of them available via climbing agencies or travel sites.

Timing – Finally, there is a matter of timing and you really want to get this one right. Depending on where you are, there are certain times of the year that you simply do not want to go climbing. If you are planning on traveling to faraway places just for your climb, you will also need to consider the traffic that will be made up of other climbers that you will find there.

Starting with the weather, you need to think about such things as snowstorms, heatwaves, hurricanes, and thunderstorms if you are going to go climbing. If the mountain that you are planning on tackling is at risk of hosting any of those during that particular time of the year, you need to change your plans. Your either schedule your trip for another time or you find another mountain.

As for the traffic, it is often a good thing for there to be other climbers on a mountain because of the safety thing. However, there are also times when the mountain becomes so congested that the cons significantly outweigh the benefits of going there. When this happens, what would be the point of your trip? You might as well turn back.

Importance of Research Pre-Climb

Since this is going to be your first mountain, it is incredibly important that you first do research on it. That is to say, you have to make sure that you understand everything that you can about the practice of mountain climbing itself and its accompanying dangers, as well as the matter of your first climb. Naturally, among the biggest reasons for doing so is safety.

Whenever you go outdoors, you are taking a risk while doing something completely natural. You will be exposing yourself to things that you are not really used to and unless you have been doing it your whole life, mountaineering is always going to riskier than staying at home. Fortunately, there are ways to make it safer such as by having the necessary knowledge.

If you know the usual dangers that come with climbing, you will be able to take the necessary precautions in order to avoid them. You can even make it so that you are never exposed to the danger, in the first place. After all, among the biggest hazards to climbing can be tied to the seasons and certain times of the year.

You will also be able to gain some peace of mind if you already know what to expect. There are a lot of issues that come with being a climber and they can weigh heavily on your mind. However, as long as you know what can hurt you during your climb, you won’t have to jump at shadows. It will be good for your psychological health.

In terms of the benefits to your climb, research also allows you to know about the ways in which you can prepare your body for the activity. You will also know what to do, what to bring, and how to improve. By doing research, you will know how you can become a better climber than you were before and this is how you can strive for it.

How Fit is Climb-Ready Fit?

If you are wondering how you can know if you are fit enough to climb your first mountain, you will first need to know which mountain you are climbing. There are certain peaks that don’t really offer much in terms of a technical challenge, so even those who are moderately fit can climb them. There are also mountains where practically only the superhuman are allowed to even try scaling them.

Assuming that the mountain that you are going to climb is reasonably easy and doesn’t really offer much in the way of challenges except for its steepness, you can devise a few methods for testing. First, you can try climbing a few flights of stairs without stopping to see just how well you cope. If, after the first three or four, you are already breathing like a bull, you are not fit enough yet.

Even if you are able to pass that particular test, you will also need to see if you are strong enough to carry gear with you while on foot. You will not be riding all the way up to the top of the mountain, after all. To that end, you must be capable of carrying your own equipment, which is bound to add some pounds to your burden.

If you try the stairs test again while carrying the stuff that you intend to bring to the mountain with you and this results in your wheezing, you are not ready. You should also remember that this is the bare minimum of what you will need to accomplish. If you want to have a good time of it, you have to make sure that you are more capable than what this test confirms.

Then again, it would all depend on your goals, at the end of the day. What exactly do you want to accomplish with this mountain climbing trip? Are you just trying to prove something to yourself or do you just want to get involved with an outdoor activity that offers some challenges? Mountain climbing is suitable for both.

However, the demands that it will have on your body will still be the same. As such, you had best find the motivation to actually get in shape for the task.

Related Questions

What Is The Best Time to Go Mountaineering?

The very best time to go mountaineering is the window between summer and autumn. Spring is great, but this is where the predators start coming out to look for food. There are also some vestiges of the previous winter still clinging to the mountains, so you need to watch out for slippery surfaces.

Can You Climb Mt. Everest All Year Round?

No, you cannot climb Mt. Everest at any time of the year that you want. There are certain times of the year where the weather is good enough that it allows for the climb to occur with relatively lower risks. For the rest of the year, this mountain is a death trap and that goes for all climbers.

Climbing Dangers to Watch Out For

There are many dangers to climbing that are worth watching out for and if you want to stay safe during your ascent, you need to pay them some mind. Among the most obvious is, of course, the risk of falling to your death. There are many ways in which this can happen and there are also many causes for it to usually happen.

You can slip, you can tip over, the ground beneath your feet can suddenly give way, or you can be pushed. The way in which you fall can also differ, wherein you can fall directly via a cliff or ravine, you can roll down a slope before falling, or you can fall, get caught by something, and fall again. All of these are dangerous, but some do provide you with the chance to survive.

Then there are the extreme weather conditions, the predators, the dangerous plants, the altitude sickness, and of course, running out of food. With so many ways in which you can die while trying to scale a mountain, you might start wondering what is even the point of it. The point, for many, is that these dangers make them feel alive.

When Not to Climb?

There are many occasions in which climbing is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. However, there are also clearly days in which it is not the wise thing to do and you can usually tell when these days are from a mile away. To start with, there is winter, which is a season where only those who are trying to end it all would even attempt a climb in certain places.

The top of the mountain is already cold enough without you throwing in frigid blizzards and snowstorms into the mix. With the earth being so far from the sun, you really don’t want to risk it. On that note, there are also mountains that you will want to avoid climbing during the summer.

Heatwaves have become all too common lately and when you think about it, climbing in hot areas during the middle of summer would be a very bad idea. You can suffer from heatstroke or some truly bad cases of sunburn. In the worst outcomes, you might even develop skin cancer, so that’s a really good reasons for just staying put. 

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