How to become a mountaineer!
For me mountaineering is all about the adventure! I love the feeling of moving through steep terrain using all my knowledge and experience to reach the top and sharing that experience with a friend. It’s the knife edge ridges, it’s the awkward chimney’s, it’s the scary moments, it’s the fun moments and it’s all these experiences that keep me tying back on to the rope time and time again! I love it!
“One of my favourite memories of mountaineering was climbing Main Wall in Snowdonia with my mate JD. We walked in during the night and slept in our sleeping bags on a slab of rock. After a very cold and uncomfortable night we started up the route, switching leads and enjoying the warmth of the morning sun. The last pitch has an awesome slab that looks like it drops off into oblivion and was my favourite pitch of the whole route. We topped out in the blazing sunshine and descended back down Crib Goch into the valley. It was an incredible day”
So now you know what it’s all about let’s talk about how you get into mountaineering. Mountaineering is a mixture of many skills and techniques and the more you know the harder and more remote places you can climb. It will test your physical strength, technical knowledge and above all your determination. It comes with a good dose of risk but how much risk you take on is generally down to you and your comfort zone.
HOW TO BECOME A MOUNATINEER.
Step 1 | Gain time in the hills!
Before you even start using ropes you need to develop an understanding of how to navigate and how to move around the mountains safely and competently. Take some navigation instruction and learn how to navigate in bad weather. Take on some classic grade I scrambles like Crib Goch, Striding Edge and Tryfan so you can expand your comfort zone and learn how to move on rock. These fundamental skills create the foundation and set you up to become a more competent mountaineer further down the line.
Step 2 | Learn the ropes!
Once you move away from Grade I scrambles everything starts to get a bit more vertical and more exposed. Its at this point you would want to start learning how to use guidebooks, how to use a rope and technical climbing equipment and how to descend safely. To gain these skills you may want to attend a specific a course like our Advanced Scrambling Course so you can understand how to use the equipment safely and effectively. Gaining some climbing experience is also useful and attending an Introduction to Climbing course will help you move more confidently on rock and improve your belaying and rope skills.
Step 3 | Consolidation
Lots of learning in the last section so the next step would be to go outdoors and practice it all and consolidate what you know. At this stage you will probably know one or two ways of doing things so consolidation will allow you to explore other options and methods to do the same task. This will help you become more efficient at climbing and will make you feel slick on the rock!
During consolidation it’s also important to keep learning and expanding your knowledge. Attend courses, ask lots of questions and make sure you keep developing and learning.
Once you have a good understanding of fundamental mountaineering skills its up to you where you go with it. From winter climbing in Scotland, Alpine climbing in the big mountains or large-scale expeditions to 8000m peaks, the choice is yours.
“Mountaineering and climbing is an inherently dangerous activity and comes with the risk of injury or death. This guide is to give readers an idea of the fundamental skills required to get into mountaineering and in no way should be a substitute to common sense or good instruction”
About the Author.
Matt Cooper is a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (MCI) based on the North Wales coast and owner of The Mountaineering Company. Matt is a full member of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI), Mountain Training course provider and member of the British Mountaineering Council. Matt is also a Montane ambassador, gear tester and contributes to articles in Summit Magazine.
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