Spring is in the air, which means that Alpine season isn’t far off. Although the topic of mountain climbing safety tips would, could and indeed has filled many a book we’ve pulled together these top alpine starter tips courtesy of James Thacker, IFMGA Mountain Guide and MIC, as a first step in planning a safer, happier mountain climbing experience.
Do your home work.
There are lots of different objectives in the alps, from valley rock sport routes to the very hardest mixed faces, giving varied and different types of climbing. Time spent planning ahead will pay dividends, as will checking local sources for the latest conditions info once you’ve arrived. Resources like Chamonix OHM (office de Haute Montagne) are particularly helpful.
Don’t get high (too fast)
If you’re keen on higher mountain routes remember that coming from near sea level in the UK (especially London) your body will need time to acclimatise to altitude. Make sure that you go steady and ensure that you stay hydrated.
If it’s your first time in a new mountain area consider hiring an IFMGA Mountain Guide for the first part of your trip, they’ll potentially save you hours of wasted effort and their local knowledge is invaluable.
Carry a headtorch with a decent beam (such as the Petzl Reactick + below) and check the batteries the day before – it will often be essential for finding your chosen route in the early morning.
Lose the weight
Light is right. Leave the heavy waterproofs at home. In good weather your 3 layer Gore-Tex will stay in your rucksack, and during bad weather spells you’ll often plan your day or route choice differently to avoid being caught out. Consider lighter fabrics such as Gore-Tex Paclite or Pro and Active Shell instead.
Take a good camera that can cope with low and high light conditions – you will want to record your experience. If you’re planning to use your smartphone instead, make sure it’s charged (of course) and consider using a protective case with lanyard to prevent an accidental fumble turning into a phone drop test.
Consider downloading one of the many iPhone or Android Apps such as echo112 to call for assistance in multiple countries, should it be required in an emergency.
by James Thacker, IFMGA Mountain Guide – book your next adventure here.
Photo: Fabio Palmieri