What is Mountaineering?

Mountaineering, also known as alpinism, is a sport where climbers scale large mountains. It is a unique sport because there are not many formal rules or governing bodies. Mountaineering can be done solo but it is most often done in groups.


History

Humans climbed mountains before the sport was created in the 19th century, but these ascents were associated with economic, political, and religious purposes. Many peaks were conquered in the early 1800s, but the start of mountaineering is dated back to 1854 in the United Kingdom. The sport then expanded around the world to the Himalayas. Mount Everest, K2, and Shisapangma were the last big mountains to be successfully climbed in the mid 1950s.

Playing Surface

Large mountains are the main terrain for participating in mountaineering. There are two types of surfaces that climbers will encounter as they ascend. Most mountains are made of rock, which requires vertical climbing. Ice also becomes a factor as climbers reach higher altitudes, forcing a change of gear and technique. Some mountains have paths created by former climbs, but obstacles are inevitable if the goal is to reach the peak.

Mountaineering Equipment

One of the most important parts of mountaineering is remembering to bring all of the equipment. All the tools made for this sport will be used to help with the climbing process. The list below will highlight the equipment needed to summit a mountain.

Here is the essential mountaineering equipment you should have:

  • Backpack
  • Boots
  • Carabiners
  • Crampons
  • Harness
  • Helmet
  • Ice Axes
  • Rope
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Tent
  • Water

Objectives

The only objective of mountaineering is to ascend and descend the chosen mountain safely. The ultimate goal is to reach the summit, but it is equally important to return to ground level unharmed.

Rules and Regulations

Mountaineering does not have any concrete rules, but it encourages the use of developed techniques for both rock and snow climbing.

Techniques

Mountaineering is a combination of walking and climbing. Therefore multiple techniques are required to participate. Walk-up terrain is known as areas where no equipment is needed. Climbers should follow designated paths until they hit rough terrain. The other technique is rock climbing. A belayer stays at the bottom of the climb and creates tension on the rope while supporting a possible fall. The first climber will become a leader who creates an anchor for the rest of the group.

Lingo

Here is the common lingo and slang in mountaineering:

  • Approach: The approach is the path or route that leads up to the base of the climbing portion of the ascent. Most climbers set up their base camp at the end of the approach.
  • Chimney: A vertical crack wide enough for a climber to fit inside.
  • On sight: When the leader of the climbing group has no prior knowledge of the route or mountain they are about to ascend.
  • Pumped: To be worn out or exhausted after performing a complex maneuver or climb sequence.

Mountaineers

The best mountaineers are known for their absurd feats while climbing the toughest of terrains. Climbing 14 mountains in 6 months, skiing down treacherous mountains, and not using extra oxygen are only some of the fantastic performances. The list below will highlight some of the biggest names in mountaineering.

Here are the most famous mountaineers you should know:

  • Nirmal Purja
  • Andrzej Bargiel
  • Denis Urubko
  • Conrad Anker

FAQ

What is the tallest mountain on the planet?

Mount Everest, located in the Himalayas, is the tallest mountain above sea level on earth.

What is the best weather to climb in?

Every season poses its own challenges to climbers, but a mild and clear day will keep you focused on the climb.

What are the dangers of mountaineering?

If not properly prepared, climbers can run out of supplies such as food, water, or oxygen. Also, avalanches are common on many mountains.

What colors should be worn while climbing?

Bright colors are smart to wear in case someone gets lost during the ascent or gets trapped in an avalanche.