When it comes to climbing, there are many disciplines or types of climbing that enthusiasts can do. But one of the most adventurous and challenging climbing activities is alpine climbing or alpinism for short.
But what is alpine climbing? This type of climbing activity aims to reach the summit of a mountain. In order to do that, each climber must have diverse skills since it involves a wide range of climbing activities, including rock climbing boulders, hiking, and technical and non-technical climbing.
Why is Alpine Climbing Dangerous?
Alpine climbing requires various climbing skills since it is a multi-disciplinary sport. If you need to climb an alpine successfully, an alpine climber must be familiar with climbing rocks and ice while also hiking long distances. The alpine climber also carries heavy packs while navigating on glaciated terrain.
A climber navigating a rocky portion of the route at a high altitude will use different types of skills, such as scrambling over boulders. Traditional climbing skills will also be used, but the difference is that the climbers will only be dealing with the rock’s natural features, making it more adventurous and dangerous.
A climber reaching a higher elevation must also have the skills to use an ice ax. This climbing tool will be used to stab crampon tips into thin ice. The ax can also be used for boring holes for ice screws. When navigating a glaciated terrain, you must know how to self-arrest once the crampons slip on the ice. Knowing how to travel in a glacier during a wipeout is also essential.
You also need to have the skills to do big wall climbing, which will require you to use air gear without climbing holds. This situation usually occurs in more advanced and technical alpine climbs.
How to Get into Alpine Climbing
If you are a climbing enthusiast who wants to do alpine climbing, there are specific steps that you need to do to prepare yourself for the challenge and difficulties of alpine climbing.
Master the Skill of Trad Climbing
If you want to perform alpine climbing, you need to be proficient with trad climbing. You must master and learn how to improvise anchors, properly place the gear, be efficient in rappelling, and be good at multi-pitch transitions. Being proficient in these trad climbing skills will make you more confident in moving safely and smoothly in any terrain.
Get Acquainted with Altitude
Alpine climbing will make you climb to a higher altitude, so you must first get acquainted with the altitude. Doing this activity will prepare your body, especially the lungs and gut, for the difficult condition of being in a place with a high altitude.
You can try speed hiking to a peak with the same elevation as your target route for your alpine climbing. Doing this exercise can help you adjust the condition of the elevated area. It will help you understand how your body will react in that elevation.
Learn the Skills for the Approach
If you are planning to do a technical alpine climb, you need to master the skills that are needed for the approach. You need to be familiarized with crossing the glacier or climbing the snow. For you to learn and master the skills, the best way is to look for an experienced trainer that will show you how to use the ropes.
If you live in a place where there is snow, it will be much easier for you to practice the needed skills. If not, you can learn and practice the skills on the field, in your home, or in the gym. The most important thing is to understand the skills needed for the approach.
Look for the Right Companion
Since alpine climbing will not be easy at all, finding the right partner is essential for you to mitigate the difficulties. You need to look for an experienced alpine climber with excellent mountain sense.
When you are doing rock climbing, it is essential to have a companion that you can trust all the time with all the challenges that you will be facing. Your partner must have the ability to make the right decisions and maintain your composure all the time.
Always Have a Safety Plan
A safety plan is always essential when doing a challenging and dangerous climb far away from home. So, you need to make sure to bring sufficient food, water, or clothing, just in case you will be lost in the wild.
You also need to bring essentials like a first aid kit, headlamp, and even communication devices which will be used if you are separated from your partner. Another essential thing to do is to communicate with someone at home to let the person know where we are going and the other details. This person must call for help if you do not come back to a specific schedule.
Always Start Small and Level Up Slowly
If you are new to alpine climbing, you can skip the challenge immediately to the most difficult route. Start with easy climbing, preferably in the summer, which is relatively easy to do since the conditions are more forgiving.
After your initial alpine climbing, you can level up slowly by picking a more challenging route, whether a longer approach or a tougher grade. But make sure to do it slowly to enhance your climbing efficiency and other skills.
This article teaches what is climbing and its difference from the other climbing disciplines. Alpine climbing is unique as it requires different types of climbing skills. It’s challenging but also dangerous. So make sure to learn the correct process should you plan to get into alpine climbing.