Climbing a mountain may seem like it’s a matter of fitness. While it is, to a certain point, there are many things you need to consider and many mistakes you can make along the way.
Here are some of the most common mistakes you can make while climbing a mountain.
Going too fast on a steep route
Many young people consider the mountain a challenge – they want to compete with all of their predecessors and friends on who will get there the fastest. The irony is, those are the ones that fail the most when climbing. They get sick and tired which is never good from them or the rest of the group – if they are doing it with a group.
Mountain climbing is all about being patient and being fit, preparing for each challenge and then enjoying the nature and wilderness and the very enlightening experience of climbing a mountain.
Go slowly, mind your reactions to different elements and enjoy the journey.
Many people believe that it doesn’t take a lot of training to climb a mountain – especially if it’s not a big one. They think that being fit is enough. However, that’s far from true. In order to climb a mountain of any size, you need proper training to get fit in the right way, that will help you climb the mountain and correct preparation.
“The best way to train is to climb hills and mountains, but in the gym you can do stamina and cardio, crossfit, running machines and swimming”, – explains Thomas Thompson, a Sports writer at Academized and Writemyaustralia.
Not eating and drinking right and enough
When climbing, it’s extremely important that you watch what and how you eat. Every calorie matters and every bit of energy used. People often bring their favorite foods to the mountains, thinking that it will be enough when in truth, it won’t. You burn calories faster on the mountains and regular food is not good enough.
You need slow burning calories in your body, calories that will take you through the mountain and keep your body going.
Water is also important. You spend a lot of it as you go up so you need to intake enough.
Straying too far from the rest of the group
When you are hiking as a group, you need to start and finish as a single person, as a unit. While this may sound fun and interesting as you begin, you will see as you climb that it’s not. Everyone walks at a different pace and everyone has a different amount of energy and strength. However, you should still remain together as you climb and all the way to the top, as a single person.
If you stray off the trail and leave your group behind, you become exposed to all kinds of elements and factors, some of which could endanger you. This is why it’s best to stay with your group.
This way, you are not risking your life and anyone else’s since someone will have to save you once you get lost.
One wrong turn and you could find yourself lost in the darkness of the mountains, with no way of contacting anyone. You could fall or get injured or get caught up in a storm.
Schedule a hike for the entire group instead of scheduling just for you. Ensure that everyone makes it to the destination safe and on time. Take some of the weight off the slow hikers and give it to the fastest hikers so that the speed can be approximately equal and no one has to wait up for anyone. Set a moderate pace that everyone can keep track of and schedule frequent breaks.
Poor interpretation of the maps
While exploring new places without a map is perfectly fine – even fun – in big cities where you can always meet new people and ask for help, this is not the case in the mountains. You can’t find anyone for miles and miles, the nature can be cruel, especially if there are animals out there and you can also stumble upon some bad weather. So, getting lost in the mountains is not an option.
If you have never been on a trail and you didn’t hire a tour guide, definitely use the right maps. However, they won’t be of much use if you don’t know how to interpret them properly. If you miss a single sign, you could get off your trek and miss your destination which could be extremely dangerous in these conditions.
You need to learn how to read your map accurately and use it together with a compass which will help you understand your location a lot better and possibly save you from a dangerous situation.
“Using a compass and a map of that area is far better than getting lost in the mountains without a clue about the path, surroundings or anything else. These tools can be valuable but only if you use them with understanding and knowledge,” – says Carmen Smith, a travel writer at Bestaustralianwriters and Australian reviewer.
Not having the appropriate gear
Hiking on a mountain can be one of the most beautiful experiences of your life – wonderful views, fresh air and peace of pure and untouched nature. However, it can also be difficult. Many factors can attribute to this, but one of the most common mistakes and elements that make hiking a poor experience is if you come unprepared.
It’s essential to ensure that you have all the right clothing and gear which will largely depend on where your adventure will be happening.
The things you need to pay most attention to when it comes to clothing are your shoes, pants and jackets. For one, shoes are extremely important because you’ll have to wear them as you hike and a poor shoe choice can lead to a lot of pain in your heels or toes. Pants and jacket are there mostly to keep you warm and protected and that’s why you need to make a good choice there.
If you are hiking in cold places, this is especially crucial. If you are trekking where it rains a lot – or even a little – you need to make sure that all of your gear is waterproof and can withstand coldness and wetness of the area. Again, make sure that your shoes are waterproof and warm enough for the area you are in.
Keep in mind that while owning and wearing new shoes to your hike can be good-looking and fulfilling, you need to understand that new shoes often hurt your feet, they are unreliable and you are not aware of how they feel.
To make your experience on the mountain memorable, you need to forget about looking good and start focusing on comfortable and safe.
Not being safe from wild animals
Being in the mountains gives you a chance to connect with the nature. You can see beautiful forests, charming little shrubs and flowers, experience the fresh air and lovely sights that will inspire you and guide you seamlessly even through toughest places on the trek. But, there is also that other side of nature that might not be so pleasing to see while hiking.
There are many life threatening situations that can happen even on the safest of hikes and encountering wild animals is not that uncommon. However, you might not have any time to figure out a solution if this happens.
Before you head out to a hike, research all of the possibilities like which animals live there and what you can expect as well as how you can deal with animals that you meet on the road.
Depending on the region that you are visiting, there can be different animals there but one of the most common animals to see that is also a big threat to your safety is a bear. You should know that if you ever encounter a bear, you need to make as much noise as possible. You can make noise even if you don’t see one because they will not bother you and they will keep at bay.
While hiking can be enchanting, you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times so you can never be surprised by an unexpected and unwelcoming host. Never carry any kind of meat with you because animals can smell it and they will attack you to get it. Learn the signs of animals being there like scat or digs and make sure that you always have your bear spray with you and know how to use it properly.
Believing you don’t need sun cream
The UV light on the mountains is very strong and it can seriously damage your skin in the present and in the future. You need to cover up and put sun cream everywhere on your body before you can go out in the mountain sun.
Since the snow – if there is some snow – reflects the sun rays, the burning will happen on the most unexpected places like under your chin, behind the ears or even on the palette of your mouth which can be really painful. On top of that, wind and cold air dry out your lips which can make it hard to move them or chew or talk.
Make sure you cover up all of the mentioned places before you head out. An moisturise frequently against cold air effect on your skin
Thinking that you will get to the top just because you paid
The key thing to understand is that paying for a guide doesn’t guarantee you anything. In fact, the higher the mountain the more expensive it gets and the lesser the chances are of you summiting the first time.
Guides are there to understand all of the dangers of a climb and make an informed decision whether to continue or stop.
Climbing a mountain is no easy feat. But if you are persistent and if you come prepared, you can do it.
Freddie Tubbs is a lifestyle blog writer and editor at Bigassingments and Australian help. He regularly takes part in online blogging events and contributes articles to online magazines and blogs, such as The Vault and State of writing.