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10 Essential tips for a successful Mountain trip

Daphne Berg

Mountain Vista

Going out there

Going on a mountain trip is always an unforgettable experience. I remember every summit I have stood on, and every multipitch I’ve made in my life. Being in the mountains is something special. To be surrounded by nature, realising how small and fragile we as humans are. Somehow depending on the mountain in order to get down alive.

Of course preparation is an incredibly important factor. I don’t wear flipflops when I want to reach 2.000 meter summit and have to do an 3 hour hike for it.

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There are actually a lot of things to think about and to prepare, when going on a mountain trip. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of things, especially because of stuff that went wrong or needed serious improvement. So here is your exclusive checklist I put together for you, with the things you have to know when you are taking your next mountain trip!

1. Make a timetable, and stick to it!

Make the timetable at least one day in advance. You should know how much time you approximately have on every factor. How many metres do you ascent in an hour? How long are you climbing on one pitch, and how many pitches are there? And how much time do you want to take for a break, and how many breaks do you need?

Be specific, from the time you park your car, to the time you’re at the summit, and from the break at the summit to get back to the car. Know when it gets dark, and calculate it back to the time you would have to start.

For ascending, the easiest way to calculate the time is with the following formula:

  • Count one hour for every 400 meter ascent.
  • Count one hour for every 4 kilometer distance
  • Take the longest time of one of the above plus half of the shortest time.
    Example: 8 km distance horizontal (8:4 is 2 hours) and 1200 altitude metres (1200:4 is 3 hours) will cost 3+1 is 4 hours.

Most importantly, be realistic. Make a point of no return, set a time that you have to at least be at this point, otherwise go down.

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2. Check the weather forecast.. And check again!

Before making your timetable, check the weather forecast on the day before your trip. There are many good apps you can check or you can look directly on the website of the country you’re in. Remember that a mountainous area, the weather can be different than predicted. The local conditions can vary greatly.

Before going on your trip, on the accual day, check the weather forecast again. It is possible the conditions have changed.

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3. Wear the proper clothes and footwork

When you know the kind of area you’ll be in, what altitude you’re going to, how long you’ll be outdoors and the temperature of the climate, it’s easier to prepare. The most important thing is to wear layers. So when you’ll get hot or cold, you can adjust. The best materials are soft, lightweight and moisture wicking.

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You’ll need to make sure your footwear is durable, comfortable, and appropriate for the conditions. This goes for hiking and climbing. If you are climbing more easier routes, you might want to consider buying comfortable climbing shoes instead of your indoor or project climbing shoes.

4. Take the time to navigate

Make sure you are prepared for your trip. Take a map or copy of the climbing topo. Remember that when you have a map on your phone, it’s possible you won’t have reception in the mountains, or your phone could die out. Especially in cold weather conditions, your phone dies out more quickly. Try to figuer out the exact way to approach and descent, study it before your trip.

During the trip, take your time to determine the right way. It’s better to stop and look around carefully instead of just following a path of which you’re not sure is right. Backtracking takes time, and messes up your timetable.

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5. Don’t take unnecessary risks

Being in the mountains is not without risk. If the terrain gets too steep or dangerous for walking, make sure you go on a rope and set gear or slings in between. And if you don’t carry a rope, consider going back.

Always consider the things that could go wrong, and anticipate on it. Wear a helmet when there is a possibility of rock fall. Take time to learn how to build a proper belay anchor. And talk to your climbing partner on forehand how you communicate when you cannot hear and see eachother anymore.

Even though you checked the weather conditions and it looked fine, it could happen that bad weather is coming nontheless. Prepare by learning to recognize when bad weather is coming, and decide early enough that it’s time to turn around.

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6. Pack your backpack clever

There’s no one right way to pack. Lay out all your gear at home and try out different loading routines until you’ve found what works best for you. It has to feel comfortable on your back. Don’t wear it too low, wear it on your hips, and don’t put the shoulder straps too tight.

Try to pack it like this;

  • Bottom zone: Good for lighter, bulky gear and items not needed until later. Like a rain jacket or first aid kit.
  • Core zone: Good for your denser, heavier items, like extra water supply, food or climbing stuff.
  • Top zone: Good for lighter, bulkier essentials you might need on the trip.

Wear the stuff you need, like water, a map, sunglasses or a quick snack somewhere in an accessory pocket or in a place you can reach easily.

7. Take enough food and water

On a normal day we have to drink more than two litres of water. Because you are so active, it is easily doubled on a day in the mountains, also depending on the weather.

It is incredibly important to carry enough water, but also not too much because it will weigh you down. When you are preparing your trip, try to look for wells or creeks on the map, and bring a waterfilter on your trip. That way you won’t have to carry too much water, and you can fill during your trip.

Try to take food with not only carbs but also protein with you. Your body is in desperate need of protein when you’re active the whole day.

For example, I love to take nuts with me, I put them in my pocket and eat them whenever I feel a little hungry. That way I don’t have to stop to get food and I don’t eat too much at once!

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8. Know what to do in emergencies

Know the emergency number from the country you’re in. You can easily find it online. It’s a good idea to know the basic first aid actions.

Always carry a first aid kit with at least the following items;

  • Antibacterial ointment (e.g., betadine)
  • Compound tincture of benzoin (bandage adhesive)
  • Assorted adhesive bandages
  • Butterfly bandages / adhesive wound-closure strips
  • Gauze pads (various sizes)
  • Sterile pads
  • Medical adhesive tape (10 yd. roll, min. 1″ width)
  • Blister treatment
  • Ibuprofen / other pain-relief medication
  • Complement with own preferations

And don’t forget to let someone back home know where you are, and when you’ll be back.

9. Take the right people with you

Make sure you know about the experience of the people you take on your trip. Are they experienced in the area? How experienced are they in climbing? And how about their mountain experience? Try to decide your role in the situation too, if you’re going with a person with less experience, you will have to take the lead more. It means more preparation. Make sure these things are clear before your trip.

In my opinion one of the most important qualities of a partner, is to go with someone you feel well with. You want to have a laugh on your way, but when things get serious you will want to be with someone who stays calm and takes the situation serious.

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10. Evaluate your trip

Your next mountain trip will only get better if you evaluate your previous trip!

Best is to go over the things with your partner. Discuss the things that went well, but also the stuff that needs improvement. Be critical, but realistic. You will realise that being in the mountains can be challenging, but worth it. And the more experienced you get, the more easy it will become. And the more adventures you can have!

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